If you’re like me, a coffee a day is a basic necessity. And oftentimes, the easiest option is to pop a single serve K-cup into the Keurig machine right before you get ready to leave the house, and wait a few minutes as the smell of coffee permeates around you and coffee fills into your reusable cup. 

But what to do after your coffee is done brewing? That K-cup usually gets thrown into the trash and adding to the increasing amount of plastic that gets thrown out daily. 

In an interview with USA Today, the campaign director of Greenpeasce USA John Hocevar said, “Coffee pods are one of the best examples of unnecessary single-use plastics that are polluting our planet. Many end up getting incinerated, dumping poison into our air, water and our soil. [Others] can wind up in rivers where they wash into lakes and oceans. Over time, the plastic breaks down into smaller pieces that choke and kill wildlife.”

With 41% of Americans owning some kind of a single-cup coffee maker, that means K-cups are in no shortage of use. But since they’re so small, too, it’s often hard to recycle and sort. By this year, though, K-cup producers want to change the composition of these cups to make them recyclable. 

Even with large corporations now taking action to prevent the environment cost of single-serve K-cups from propagating, as consumers, we can easily still get our daily coffee intake (using our Keurig) with other options!

The one I personally use is a type of reusable K-cup, in which I can fill the pod with whatever coffee I want. Pods like these are 100% BPA- and lead-free, and are compatible with most Keurig and commercial brewing systems. After each use, all I have to do is wash out the pod and let to dry, so that I can use it the next morning. Not just that, you end up saving a significant amount of money (each box of single-serve K-cups can cost up to $15, and will only last you a little over a week. But using your own blend of coffee allows you to branch out and even buy local grinds, in addition to serving you for a long time.)

If you don’t want to deal with washing out a reusable K-cup, there’s always the option of biodegradable and compostable k-cups. Certainly, there are some caveats, as these are only possible if there’s a commercial composting service in the area. If you want to completely avoid the K-cups, there’s always the French Press. You can make yourself some good old-fashioned coffee if you’re willing to take the extra ten minutes every morning … but hey, it’s for the planet (and you still get your coffee!)

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