Single-serving coffee pods are not very neat for our environment

I grew up hearing the word ‘keurig’, because it’s a Dutch word – it means ‘neat’.  So it’s a bit ironic that that same word has become associated with single-serving coffee pods (or K-cups), one of the most waste-generating inventions of our times.

The problem is not the coffee, it’s what’s left over: those used pods.  Strictly speaking, they’re recyclable – but there’s a huge catch.  You’ve got to separate the foil from the plastic cup, dump the coffee grounds into your compost bin and then rinse the cup clean before placing it in your recycling bin.  Placing dirty pods into your recycling bins will contaminate everything else, potentially making it all unrecyclable too.

Dissembling, cleaning and recycling pods is just too much hassle for most of us – so they end up in the trash.  Enough were sold in 2014 to circle the globe a dozen times, if placed end to end.  In fact, they create so much trash that the inventor now wishes he hadn’t invented them!

What to do?  If you’re hardcore, you now know: separate, wash, compost and recycle.  But the very best solution is to forego single serving pods altogether, and opt for coffee the way you enjoyed it before pods came along.  Now that would be truly keurig!

The scourge of plastic microfibers

Polyester, nylon and other synthetic fabrics have become mainstays of our wardrobes (including mine – I’m wearing a fleece as I write this).

But every time you wash clothing made from those materials, microscopic bits of fibre break off.  Thousands of these microfibers break off of a fleece like mine every single wash.  They’re too small to be captured by municipal waste treatment systems, so they end up in waterways and eventually oceans.  (Learn more from this recent story from CBC’s The Current.)

So what to do?  Here are 15 ways to help stop microfiber pollution:

  1. Wash synthetic clothing less often
  2. Use a colder wash setting
  3. Use liquid soap instead of powder
  4. Watch the Story of Stuff’s microfiber movie
  5. Most importantly: where possible, buy clothes made of natural fibres like cotton, linen and wool

And read the other 10 tips here.