What about that latte? We’re happy to know its pleasing effects on us, and lots of people along its way to our cup have been employed, growing and shipping the beans, roasting and packaging them, making the cups, and finally making that coffee, which probably originated in South America, possibly Africa or Asia. It turns out the coffee beans make up only about 10% of the carbon footprint of the stuff though, which is about a pound of CO2 per 12 ounce cup (which also results from a mile driven in a car, or some hours watching a large screen television). The U.S. distribution is about 15%; the grinding of the beans, and brewing them, and the making of the cup into which it is poured is about a quarter of the final impact. Half of the footprint is the milk!
The fertilizer, pesticides, harvesting and transport that went into the feed for the cows, the methane coming out of them, and then the production and transportation of the milk, even though it is American, is much more carbon intensive than the coffee, and also extremely water intensive. About a hundred gallons of water is required to produce one quart of 2% milk. Black coffee anyone? Organic milk or soy latte, anyone?
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Barbara Hirsch, recording engineer, eco-person
“Unless someone like you cares a whole lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
– The Lorax, Children’s book by Dr. Seuss
Past ecofacts can be found here: