The term “sustainability” has become a buzzword in nearly every industry. However, far too many companies simply don’t understand what it means to actually promote sustainability. They often resort to short-term initiatives which may create a degree of ecological awareness, but they rarely uncover the heart of the issue.
The coffee industry is particularly susceptible to environmental, social, and economic factors which require a careful approach to sustainability. Moving forward, retailers, farmers, government agencies, and everyone involved in the supply chain will have to do their part to ensure the livelihood of the coffee industry and promote a greener future.
Sustainability Is the Exception Rather Than the Norm
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines sustainability as “a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.” Unfortunately, this practice has become the exception rather than the norm.
According to the Clean Water Action coalition, global coffee giant Starbucks “uses more than 8,000 paper cups a minute, which adds up to more than four billion a year. 1.6 million trees are harvested every year for all of those single-use cups. Since these cups are lined with plastic, they are not really recyclable ─ only four U.S. cities even accept Starbucks paper cups for recycling.” While they have made efforts to reduce the number of plastic straws used in their stores, the straws are only a minor variable in impacting environmental sustainability for a company that has more than 15,000 stores in the United States. In the process of phasing out plastic straws, they have introduced new lids which they have admitted use even more plastic than the previous ones.
Climate Change Can Have a Major Impact on the Coffee Industry
Scientists and researchers universally agree that climate change is a real issue facing our environment. In the coffee industry particularly, climate change can have a major impact. Heavy rains can destroy entire crops, specialty coffees need adequate temperatures to survive, and deforestation can have a devastating impact on farmers. Rising temperatures can result in farmers who have to grow in certain altitudes relocating where it may not be environmentally or economically viable to continue operating. Climate change can also have an influence on the quality and quantity of the coffee supply. Pests known as the “coffee borer” and certain fungal diseases thrive in warmer temperatures and can cut coffee production and result in increased prices.
Social and Economic Factors
There are also uncontrollable social and economic factors that have a tremendous influence on sustainability in the coffee industry. According to reports, “the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to affect coffee supply chains as farmers and producers expect to continue to experience prolonged labor shortages, increased production costs, diminished infrastructure and a reduction in commitments from buyers.”
Countries that export specialty coffees are at a crossroads and it is likely that the coffee trade will look much different as time goes on. As retailers continue to face increased costs and changing consumer preferences, the implications for farmers and everyone involved in the supply chain are far too obvious to ignore.
Every Journey Begins With a Single Step
The issues facing the coffee industry are undoubtedly complex and involve much more than failed initiatives by corporate entities, climate change, and uncontrollable social and economic factors. However, every journey begins with a single step. For those looking to do their part to promote sustainability in the coffee industry, there are solutions and things to keep in mind.
A great way to promote sustainability is to begin by changing standards. While Starbucks has made efforts to reduce the number of plastic straws they use, they still have a long way to go. According to reports, they had a policy that allowed tap water to run non-stop throughout the course of the business day. The policy resulted in more than 23.4 million liters of water being wasted. To combat this issue, there must be an initiative for every coffee company to use less water. By making this a universally accepted and standard practice, the necessary pieces of the puzzle to create a greener environment begin to come together.
At Eco Delight Our Mission Is to Promote Sustainability
Shopping locally is another key component to promoting sustainability. When you support local business owners and independent coffee shops, you not only get higher-quality products, you are protecting local land and wildlife, reducing carbon emissions, and helping the community grow. But buying locally encompasses much more than supporting businesses in your area. When you support a company who makes a healthy relationship with suppliers and farmers a priority, you are also doing your part.
Since 2011, at Eco Delight we’ve made it our mission to promote sustainability and ecological awareness by sourcing artisan coffees directly from farmers. In the process of providing truly great coffee from farm-to-market, we’ve established lasting relationships with growers from all over the world. If you are interested in tasting exclusive and unique single-origin coffees from around the world, we have a selection to meet your needs. We offer coffees with a complex set of aromas, flavors, textures, and aftertastes sourced directly from growers.