Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This Keurig Makes Me Sad

The student body allocated funds to put a Keurig machine in the library for the students to use free of charge.  Its been wildly successful with our students.  The supply cannot be kept stocked with enough coffee and tea for them actually.  So, they love it...and I hate to be a kill-joy...but, I will admit I find it distressing.  Not stay-up-thinking-about-it-at-night distressing or anything.  Just shake-your-head-at-it-as-you-pass-by kind of distressing.  There is so much waste involved in making what can be a simple cuppa that sometimes it almost pains me--primarily because it is really just needless waste.
Boxes and boxes of little plastic cups....
Just in case you're not familiar:  the Keurig works by inserting a tiny plastic cup (called a k-cup), which is preloaded with coffee or tea, into the machine and pressing a button.  This causes the plastic cup to be punctured on both top and bottom and hot water passes through it making one single cup of coffee.  The plastic k-cup is then trash.

Or I suppose one could rip it all the way open, empty out the tea/grounds, compost them, and rinse out and recycle the plastic cup.  But, I've yet to see a Keurig user do any such thing.

In a home use situation as least the k-cup is the only trash, but in the library is also means disposable cups and lids and packets of sweetener.  The trash can is always full of k-cups and coffee cups, often with the coffee only half drunk.
It is such a waste.  I hate to see it every day.  Coffee and tea are among the most widely drunk beverages in the world.  Imagine if everyone drank their daily cup in this wasteful fashion.  I find it most regrettable.    Loose tea is preferred over bagged teas as far as waste goes, but they both beat this disposable plastic business.  (Oh, I will mention that there are some teas in pyramid shaped tea bags that are in fact made of plastic as well, just you know, as a related note since I am already on a gripe about this.) 
And the k-cups are so expensive that I am shocked!  I don't know how they are at all economical let alone ecologically sustainable!

 
I will add that I have now met one person who owns a Keurig, but uses a refillable k-cup instead of the disposable plastic ones (because they were way to expensive for her).  The refillable one can be filled with regular coffee for those who still like to make just one cup at a time.  But, I've met lots of Keurig users and only one of them had this more eco-friendly option.  I am glad to know there is such an option though.
So, that is it I suppose.  This Keurig at the library makes me sad.  I wish it didn't make so many other people happy or I could just suggest we get rid of the darn thing....see...I am a killjoy.  But, for me the bottom line is that as an avid tea drinker I just cannot for the life of me imagine such a disposable approach to getting my daily cup(s).  It would pain me each time I tossed a cup in the trash.  But, that's just me.

5 comments:

  1. The whole machine is an ecological and economical nightmare. Those machines are expensive when you already own a stove to heat water. The machine is just one more appliance for the dump.

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  2. I too think the keurigs are an environmental NIGHTMARE! We have two at work, one for tea and one for coffee, with 30 employees you can only imagine how much waste is generated each day, 60 plus K-cups are tossed in the trash five days a week!!!! The sad part is because of the way the k-cups are made they are not recyclable.
    At home we use a coffee press, no filter, only coffee grounds to dispose of and we toss them into the compost bucket.
    I do partake of a cup of coffee on the days I am in the office, and feel slightly less guilty because I use a real mug at least, rather than adding to the waste by using a new styrofoam each time.
    And, have you priced up the k-cups? It is an extremely expensive way to buy coffee. We choose to purchase fair trade coffee beans from our local food co op and I know it way cheaper per pound than keurig coffee figures out to be.

    Bean

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  3. Here in Australia we have something similar called Nespresso, with little aluminium capsules. I feel immensely guilty about buying and using these capsules, but cannot kick the habit, despite simplifying almost every other area of my life. Last time I was in the Nespresso store I asked if there was a recycling program for the capsules, and it turns out they have just launched one! I can now bring all the used capsules into the store and put them down a chute to be melted down into some other aluminium product. The expense is still a problem though....

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  4. I'm with you. I don't like these either. The machine and supplies are ridiculously overpriced and the waste that goes along with it sets my teeth on edge. I rank them right up there with the quesadilla maker and pre-cooked bacon. I use a cone method, recycle my grounds, then compost the spent grounds and filter. No appliance needed, except for the stove, of course.

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  5. I will never understand this waste. If I make a pot of coffee and we turn it off after we've drunk what we want in the mornings I will have cold coffee to drink as iced coffee later in the day or to use in a recipe that calls for coffee. We rarely just dump it. And the coffee grounds and the paper filter go into our compost pail. Seems that the library is loosing money BIG time on this whole proposition.

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