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Reusable coffee filters are even better than paper products

Are reusable coffee filters made with metallic mesh more eco-friendly than recycled paper filters? – Joel of Ottawa

Yes. Allow the second R of the three Rs to prevail: Reuse!

Reusable filters are even better than paper products made from 100 hundred per cent post-consumer waste (PCW) and processed chlorine-free (PCF), especially if the metal filter is recyclable. It takes effort — energy, resources, etc. — to make all paper products. Many filters on the market are also chlorine-bleached. Chlorine is toxic to produce and poisonous to fish.

If you do use good recycled paper filters, you can compost the grounds and the filter. Coffee grounds are excellent for the garden because they contain nitrogen. Sure it’s snowy in most cities across Canada now, so mix the grounds into your indoor plant pots. Come spring, you can sprinkle the grounds around outdoor plants to create a slug and snail barrier (grounds are abrasive and acidic) or mix them right into the soil to release nutrients.

But hold the bus. What kind of coffee are you brewing?

Coffee is the second-most-traded commodity in the world, after oil. And millions of acres of land have been cleared worldwide to grow coffee, effectively evicting all the forest inhabitants, including migrant boreal songbirds. Most coffee is produced as a monoculture crop, in direct sunlight. These plantations also require chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Make the switch to coffee that has been triple certified: organic, fair trade, and shade grown; this will ensure that it is also bird-friendly.

Bird-friendly plantations not only protect some of the last remaining refuge areas for hundreds of species of birds, they also allow farmers to grow other crops as a hedge against weather hardships, pests and diseases.

Coffee plants grown under the rainforest canopy use organic leaf litter as fertilizer. Insects are controlled by natural predators such as bats and birds.

On top of that, the coffee farmer won’t have to bathe in toxic pesticides to get you a morning caffeine pick-me-up.

David Suzuki Foundation
Lindsay Coulter gives you the straight goods on living green. Send your questions to queenofgreen@metronews.ca. For more great tips, visit The David Suzuki Foundation at davidsuzuki.org.

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