52 Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Footprint – 15. Coffee Pods, an Environmental Problem

Single-use coffee pods have become a status symbol around the world. The reality is, that coffee has now become part of the global environmental disaster that is our disposable economy. There are now billions of the sleek aluminium and plastic capsules ending up in landfill every year. There has to be a better way!

Maybe even something that George Clooney would approve of?


The now legendary advertisement campaign by Nespresso, featuring His Royal Handsomeness, George Clooney, was first shown in 2006. Now, in 2017, there are billions of these pods used every year.

  • Coffee pods take between 150 and 500 years to breakdown in landfill
  • Less than 1% are actually recycled.
  • Coffee pods now account for the majority of sales of the major coffee brands
  • Waste per serving is increased by an estimated 80%.
  • They are up to 10x the cost of regular instant coffee and 2x the cost of filtered coffee.

If you are not convinced how much waste they generate, take a look below. A single year of waste products from 1 company would be over 100m high and 150 long!

Ripped Off!

The fact of the matter is, you have been duped by the marketing companies. We are literally being ripped off.

This coffee tastes no better than normal coffee. It makes almost no difference in our daily lives for convenience. Sales of independent, organic, fair trade coffee have plummetted as the major coffee companies regain their majorities. When you lose this choice it is almost always bad for consumers and bad for the environment.

Is your life really so busy that you cannot take an extra minute to brew your own coffee?


We need to snap out of the marketing trance we are in and get back to using good old fashioned coffee.

Fast and Cheap
  1. Instant coffee – Guess what, it is the same as what goes into a coffee pod!
Slower but Better Tasting
Slow and Pleasurable (And a bit expensive)

But Remember

No matter what type of coffee you use , choose ethical coffee, here are some terms to look for (Source: www.ethicalcoffee.net)

  1. Fair Trade – Fair trade organizations create trading partnerships that are based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade.
  2. Direct Trade – Direct trade is a term used by coffee roasters who buy straight from the growers, enabling better profits for those that need it most.
  3. Bird Friendly – The SMBC requires that producers meet the requirements for organic certification first, and then meet additional criteria to ensure they are maintaining the forest cover that provides habitat for birds and other wildlife.
  4. Rainforest Alliance – The alliance set up for managing forests sustainably.
  5. Organic – The organic standard is intended to assure the consumer that the product has no synthetic ingredients or additives, rather than showing that it was produced in an environmentally friendly way.
  6. Carbon neutral – A carbon-neutral business is one that, through the sum of its activities, does not add to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
  7. Shade Coffee – This generic term is used to describe coffee trees grown the traditional way, under at least a partial forest canopy.


There are so many ways in which we can help reduce our environmental footprint but with so much going on it is hard sometimes to remember. Rather than remember, the best way is to form a habit and the best way to form a habit is by utilising the 3 R’s:

  1. Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
  2. Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take)
  3. Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior)

Each week, for 52 weeks, we will post a new idea to help you reduce your waste and work towards a cleaner less polluted lifestyle. Hopefully, by the end, some of the idea’s will become habitual and stick with you forever. Consider this to be your gift to the world.

#reducewaste #environmentalfootprint #onebrown