Coffee is the world’s most commonly traded commodity after crude oil, and tea is the world’s most consumed beverage after water. So if tea and coffee are up there with oil and water on the world stage, we know there must be a lot at stake here. One thing that’s definitely at stake is our desire to get a tasty, healthy, perky, fairly-traded, and eco-friendly brew to sip. Here’s a quick spin through some of the finer points of green coffee and tea connoisseurship.
Here are the Tips
1. The local brew
Seek out the coffee and tea that have traveled the least distance to reach you and also aim at supporting local, independent farms, cafés, and roasters.
2. Mug shots
Go ahead, find that perfect mug and make the investment. Not only is a reusable mug more pleasurable to sip out of than a paper cup, but it will replace an untold number of disposable cups, plastic sippy tops, “java jackets,” and other disposable paraphernalia. Make a quick tally of how many disposable coffee or tea cups you use in a month…yeah, it’s probably a lot.
Coffee and tea that bear organic certification are more eco-friendly because they are grown and processed without toxic chemicals, are cultivated and harvested in ways that protect sensitive ecosystems, and spare workers from exposure to harmful pesticides and herbicides. Shade grown coffee is another important category that preserves habitats for migratory birds on coffee farms, also letting beans mature more slowly and creating richer flavors.
4. Fair Trade
Not only does certified fair trade coffee and tea help ensure living wages and safe working conditions for farmers, but TransFair and Rainforest Alliance both include rigorous environmental standards in their certification criteria.
5. Home brew
The local café is great. It’s got your friends, good food, free wireless. But if you think you can be greener in your own kitchen, give it a try. When you do it at home you know where the beans and leaves are coming from and also where they go when they’re spent. Plus, you can’t forget your mug, you can choose organic milk, and never toss out another paper sugar packet. Try a bit of quick math on the cost savings of making your morning cup-o-joe at home.
6. Loosen up
Tea bags and coffee filters can be useful but are mostly unnecessary. Great coffee can be made at home with a reusable filter or a stovetop espresso maker. A quality tea infuser can last a lifetime and replace an untold number of (questionably compostable) tea bags. If you do use filters and bags, look for biodegradable and unbleached ones.
7. Milk and sugar
Most people put one thing or another in their hot beverage of choice. Don’t foul up your organic, fair trade, bird friendly, solar roasted brew with chemical and hormone-laden milk and sugar from a little paper packet. If you don’t do the cow thing, look for organic rice, soy, or almond milk to yin up your yang.
8. "Press" the issue
If the local coffee shop you love doesn’t carry coffee and tea that meet your standards, start asking politely. Starbucks has a universal policy under which they will brew a French press of fair trade coffee for anyone who asks. Take the Starbucks Challenge and see if your barista knows what Starbucks has committed to.
9. Compost the roast
Tea leaves and especially coffee grounds make outstanding compost. Coffee’s high nitrogen content has made it a fertilizer of choice since days of yore. Composting leaves and grounds helps keep organic waste out of landfills, makes great soil, and keeps waste baskets dry. If you don’t have a heap to toss it on, just spread coffee grounds on the top of your plants’ soil.
10. Gift the good stuff
Organic coffee and tea make superb gifts for friends and coworkers, as well as effective peace offerings for estranged family members and ex-lovers. It’s also a great way to get people appreciating the many benefits of a “greener” coffee or tea habit.
Posted by silent-thunder
After two months of delay, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has formed a "powerful" climate change council to speed up efforts to combat global warming, a government official said Monday.
The official, who declined to be named, said the council involved 16 Cabinet members, with State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar serving as its executive chairman.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla is not on the council, the official added.
Kalla earlier had said he was not aware of the government's plan to set up the council.
"Hopefully, the President will announce the new climate change council this week before he leaves for Japan on July 7 to attend a G8 meeting," the official told The Jakarta Post.
The plan to set up the council was a main topic after last year's gathering of 170 country delegations at the UN climate change conference in Bali.
The council was originally scheduled to be formed by the end of April 2008.
At the Bali conference, President Yudhoyono launched national action plans to cut emissions and sell credits based on the carbon stores of Indonesia's forests.
"The council will coordinate and monitor the implementation of the action plans to fight climate change and manage climate funds, including those from wealthy nations, to help Indonesia reduce greenhouse gas emissions," the official said.
The council's office will be at the Garuda Indonesia building on Jl. Selatan Merdeka, Central Jakarta.
Rachmat, who is now president of the Conference of Parties (COP) to climate change -- the highest post in the United Nations' climate change convention -- is expected to safeguard the much-hailed Bali roadmap in international negotiations.
Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Sri Mulyani will be vice chairpersons of the council.
Among the 16 Cabinet members on the council are State Secretary Hatta Radjasa, Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriantono, Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi and Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal.
According to the document, the council will comprise six working groups of governmental officials to deal with issues of adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer, finance, forestry and post-Kyoto aims.
Many countries, including Australia, Japan, the United States, Britain, Germany and Canada, have pledged to provide aid to Indonesia to help tackle global warming that has caused a rise in sea level, higher temperatures and unpredictable weather changes.
Australia recently signed an Indonesia-Australia Forest Carbon Partnership to stop deforestation in Indonesia.
Canberra had earlier promised AS$30 million to plant 100 million trees on Borneo Island. Last year, it also pledged a total of A$240 million to curb deforestation in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia.
The Indonesian Forestry Ministry is now under intensive negotiations with Germany, Britain, Japan, Spain and Norway to set up forest partnerships to carry out "reductions of emissions from deforestation and degradation" (REDD) projects.
REDD, adopted in Bali last year, was expected to be the binding mechanism to reduce carbon emissions.
A noted economist and author of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, Nicholas Stern, has urged rich nations to provide around US$10 billion per year to stop deforestation in forestry nations such as Indonesia.
Minister Rachmat has repeatedly reminded world leaders to stick to the Bali roadmap agreement which drafted action plans setting a 2009 deadline for a new treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The roadmap calls for rich nations to take the lead in carbon emissions reductions.
Developed countries have in a series of formal and informal meetings tried to attract the emerging economic states, like India and China, to set emissions targets.