Organic gardening, environmental stewardship, canning and preserving the harvest – improving how we live on this planet is Joe Lamp’l’s biggest passion. Showcasing his passion through television, Growing A Greener World, is filled with stories of people across the country doing really good things for the planet, which has been broadcasted to millions with over 160 episodes in seven years. Despite this movement towards a greener world, convenience-driven single serve coffee plastic cups in our landfills can circle the globe over 11 times!
Meet Joe Lamp’l (aka joe gardener®). With his background in horticulture and organic gardening, Joe has given us his insight on how to eliminate excessive waste not only from landfills but from our homes too!
For most families who drink coffee at home, which cups are most wasteful in our country?
Joe: Any single-serve plastic cup is wasteful because none of them are biodegradable. I’m just as guilty as anyone else; I love my coffee and I love the convenience. It’s been a couple of years, but back in 2014, 9.8 billion cups went into the landfill – despite their minuscule size, they circle the globe 11 times. That’s not even the worst part – they do not break down in landfills. What they are doing is creating methane gas which is a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than the “bad gas”carbon dioxide. Being the convenience-loving coffee drinkers that we are, we’re unknowingly contributing to the problem and we need to find a better way.
Fortunately, Hills Brothers has this compostable coffee pod that coffee drinkers can find in stores. These compostable coffee pods aren’t just a made up all natural name either. They truly are certified to break down into compost – it’s the real deal.
We’re not the only country to have landfill problems. What have other countries done to help with the overfill?
Joe: Some countries have gone so far as to actually ban these single serve coffee cups. If you look at European countries, even though they have been more aggressive than the United States when it comes to environmental preservation – we’re kinda bringing up the rear it seems like! But, we are leading the way here in the States with the compostable pods. So for those of us that want the convenience and our coffee – this is something I’m really excited about.
We now have a major problem with these plastic cups in our landfills; what are the consequences to our children’s future if this trend does not change?
Joe: It’s going to be the accumulation of the gas in the atmosphere for those of us that believe in climate change. It’s only going to get worse with more gas for the environment. What we think is bad now with the climate issues; it’s only going to get worse. And so for our children’s children, they are dealing with problems they didn’t even create. We are the solution, not just the problem. We can be proactive right now. We can slight our footprint with this example – small as it may seem, only changing our coffee pods; but we can reduce the wastes that come into our house as well. This can create a really big difference. Start reducing that and then our future generation won’t have to suffer the consequences.
We hear a lot about recyclables, biodegradables and compostable materials – what’s the difference?
Joe: To put it in perspective, think of them as good, better and best.
We all are hopefully recycling our bottles, paper, glass, cardboard and putting those materials in the bin to be picked up and reused. In this process, they are taken up and processed into something else. We’re using more energy and resources to make these used materials into something else. Right there, lots of energies are being used. While that’s good news, it’s not in the landfill… yet. Now it becomes another product and that product will be eventually thrown away and will end up in the landfill. We haven’t eliminated the problem; it has just been deferred.
The better option of biodegradable breaks down, but we don’t know how long it takes to break down or where – is it in a landfill or on the side of the road as litter? If it’s in a landfill, there’s still the issue of methane gas and its leaching effect on the environment if left as litter. We want to eliminate the waste streams going into the landfill and our environment to begin with.
Now for the best of all worlds – compostable. This is where a natural product is converted into a tangible product and then converted back into a natural product like soil.
Brew & Renew
Brew your coffee and renew it into the earth as soil as a fully compostable product. As much coffee as I drink and pods that I use, now I know I don’t have to feel guilty when I get my cup of coffee.
Composting is huge; very important.
We’re in the season of Earth Day, what is something we can show our children to do instead of the typical “throw it away” option?
Joe: Take your children to the landfill. Show them the big pile of nasty waste and how we’re the reason it’s there. Let them know that 2/3’s of it doesn’t have to be there because it can be recycled or composted. Paper takes up 40% of the landfill – this is paper that can be composted. Food waste alone makes up 20-25%. Right there, those two materials alone can eliminate a big part of our landfill waste. We can teach our children if we set the example. You’ve heard of “reduce, reuse and recycle”. Do this instead: refuse. Refuse the waste from coming into your home in the first place. Eliminate excessive packaging, buy in bulk, and instead of bringing home those plastic bags from the store, utilize reusable shopping bags.
Whether it can be recycled, composted or biodegradable, showing our children ways to think and act by setting the example; taking them to the store with our bags and showing the landfills – these are the visions they won’t forget or un-see. The more we can show them, the more you create change in their minds and eyes – that’s the impact it will have on them — to be the change.
When is your program, Growing A Greener World, airing and how can families find more information about this creative convenience for coffee drinkers?
Joe: Growing A Greener World, is available on public TV. The city decides when it airs, so to find out for your local station visit: Growingagreenerworld.com. You’ll find the Station Finder link on every page. Simply provide your zip code and you’ll get the date and time of the episodes for the next four weeks.
Just remember that education is key. People who are making a difference in their lifestyle, deciding a change has to be made – they are the passionate ones. They are passionate about it and understand the steps to get there. It doesn’t have to be complicated, the steps are simple. I’m fond of saying, “A journey of a 1000 miles begins with a first step.” It’s about just finding something we can be passionate about and moving forward with it.
All of us want to be greener or lighter on this planet we live, it’s just a matter of picking that one thing that matters to us and finding a way to act on it. There are several suggestions on the website in order to get started. If we have no passion – we won’t do anything about making a difference.
It’s up to us
Individually, lead by example because people are watching the actions we make as individuals and that really adds up. If you and I do something, our family members do something and our neighbors do something collectively that really makes a difference. That’s what we have to do. BE the source of change right where we live and let that catch on.
To find compostable coffee pods and composting facilities near you, visit: coffeecomposting.com and be sure to use the Contact Us link if you need more information!
Need a quick change with little lifestyle disruption? Here are 5 Quick Changes To “Go Green” in the home.