If you are a fan of single-cup brewing systems, a simple switch to replacing single-use, pre-filled plastic pods with washable and reusable k-cups will save you money and put less plastic on our planet as well. Trust me. I made the switch and have never turned back.
I wasn’t an early adopter of single serve coffee machines. I liked brewing pots of coffee and it didn’t seem like a necessary switch. As my sons grew into early adulthood and our household became busier with family and friends, I gave in and bought a Keurig machine. I am now among the 40% of Americans who own a single-cup brewing system.1
From the start, I didn’t like the thought of using all that plastic per cup of coffee.
I tried to overlook the amount of plastic we were throwing away and the amount of money I was spending on pre-filled coffee pods. I didn’t realize how much more costly these little convenient, pre-filled plastic coffee pods were.
It’s been estimated that using pre-filled k-cups costs 5 times more than brewing coffee.
My enjoyment of coffee started to wane when I would select coffee pods based on which brand was on sale versus choosing the coffee I wanted to drink. I realized I needed to make a change for my wallet and for the planet so that I could get back to enjoying drinking coffee again.
When I purchased the single-serve coffee machine it came with a reusable pod but we didn’t use it much at first. I purchased two more reusable pods just like the original one so that we could have pods in rotation for mornings and group gatherings.
Now, I purchase the coffee I want to drink based on what matters — flavor, quality and who makes it.
If I want to enjoy a delicious cup of Larry’s Coffee (a B-corp that makes great coffee) I simply fill my reusable k-cup with the good stuff, insert the pod in the coffee maker, and let the magic happen. The switch to reusable pods was a joyful change for me and the environment. If you would like to eliminate the plastic from a single-serve coffee maker, purchase reusable pods and enjoy your coffee.
1-U.S. ownership of single-cup brewing systems 2005-2020, Statista, 2020
You regularly hear that change is hard. Well, it can be but it can also be easier than you think.
Over the past few years, I’ve made a simple habit change that resulted in big wins for me and the planet. That made it a simple and joyful change — a double win!
Most of us have come to acknowledge that many of our well-intentioned, learned habits are having a measurable and negative impact on our planet. As our lives have become increasingly busier, we have adopted habits that appeal to our desire for convenience and personalization, without considering the dark side of the new habit.
Take, for example, bottled water. Access to good drinking water is an important issue. The low cost and portability of PET bottled water is the reason bottled water consumption has grown from 50 billion bottles per year in 2003 to more than 480 billion bottles sold in 2016.
It’s anticipated single use plastic water bottle consumption will grow another 20% in 2021.
Okay, makes sense, right, since most of us are choosing to drink water over a carbonated, sugary beverage. Water is a much better beverage choice and single-use bottled water is easy, inexpensive, and portable. What’s the problem?
Once the spring, mineral, purified, or distilled water is consumed, where does the single-use plastic bottle go? Most of our plastic water bottles end up in our landfills and oceans. We are learning now, too, that micro-plastic from our PET water bottles are ending up in our bodies. Are we becoming walking, talking water bottles?
This leads to my joyful habit change: replaced single-use plastic bottles with reusable bottles.
My family and I love boating and lake life. We have owned a lake cabin and boat for 20 years and spend as many weekends as possible out on the lake. Like most families, we’d stop at the grocery store and pick up a 24-pack or two of bottled water to last us through the weekend. At the end of each boating day, we’d gather all of the spent and barely used plastic water bottles (those that didn’t accidentally fly overboard into the lake) and throw them away. Overtime, as we learned more about plastic pollution and its impact on climate change, we got better at separating the plastic water bottles from the rest of the trash and bagged them for recycling. We felt good about that change. But seeing the volume of our plastic trash did make us feel a bit guilty.
A couple of years ago, we purchased eight reusable and insulated water bottles that matched the colors of our boat — a nice addition.
Each weekend, instead of buying 24-48 single-use plastic bottles of water, we fill our insulated bottles with filtered water from our kitchen and enjoy them on the boat. We bring extra water in a gallon container to refill the bottles, if needed. The water tastes good and stays cold. No more wasting money on bottles of water barely consumed or trying to figure out whose water is whose. The amount of trash to remove from the boat has significantly decreased and we no longer haul a bunch of plastic trash to our city home for recycling.
I estimate that we consumed 1,000 to 1,200 PET plastic bottles of water each boating season. When you multiply that by 20 years, it totals as much as 24,000 plastic water bottles!
As a result of this simple and joyful habit change, we have reduced our contribution to plastic pollution by 3,600 single-use plastic bottles over the past three summers alone and we are only one family. Also, as a mother I have lowered my frustration level over wasted money, barely consumed water bottles, and wrangling trash pick up after a long day of boating.
Simple changes by each of us can make a big difference especially when added together with others making the same change.
If 10 more families made the switch to reusable bottles, we’d use 36,000 less single-use plastic bottles. If 100 did the same, it would total 360,000. If 1,000 families made the habit change, the reduction would total 3.6 million less plastic water bottles consumed.
What habit will you change to make a difference for you and the planet?
OPL Chief Marketing Officer Amy Bates shares her experience in making simple habit changes to improve quality of life and protect the planet.