Early morning, snuggled up on the sofa, drinking a hot cup of coffee, reading. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. USA Today reported about 83% of adults drink coffee in the United States, the world’s biggest consumer of the beverage. That’s an average of three cups a day per person, or 587 million cups. As we strive to live an eco-friendly life, the coffee we choose to drink can make a big impact on the quality of life for coffee growers and biodiversity. Increasing concerns about these issues have spurred a movement to be more eco-friendly with our coffee habits. The Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit organization, works to conserve biodiversity and ensure livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.
They write: “More than 25 million people in the tropics depend on coffee, a crop that is the economic backbone of many countries and the world’s second most traded commodity after oil. Coffee is farmed on about 30 million acres (12 million hectares) worldwide, an area larger than Portugal and nearly the size of England. Most of the farms are in areas regarded as high priorities for conservation. In 1993, the Rainforest Alliance and its partner groups in the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) demonstrated that traditional, forested coffee farms are havens for wildlife. The biodiversity on well-managed coffee farms can be awesome. One certified cooperative in El Salvador contains more than 100 tree species. SAN biologists have spotted dozens of species of rare birds, wild cats, such as ocelots, postcard-size butterflies, Technicolor frogs, seldom-seen orchids, monkeys and (once) a giant anteater. Forested coffee farms are critically important as migration stopovers for birds traveling from as far away as Canada and Alaska. In areas where deforestation is rampant, these coffee farms may be the only habitat available to provide shelter and food for wary birds.”
The Rainforest Alliance developed a certification process as one way to guarantee that coffee farms maintain wildlife habitat and other environmental benefits, while protecting the livelihoods of coffee farms. By buying coffee beans stamped with their Certified Seal of Approval you can do your part to support farmers who maintain these rainforest refugees.
Can I afford to this special coffee? I counted the number of coffee scoops in our favorite Organic Fair-Trade coffee, calculated how many cups of coffee this would make, and what it costs per cup. This delicious, eco-friendly coffee costs me 11 cents per cup. So the average person who drinks three cups per day would only spend 33 cents per day. That’s an inexpensive cup of coffee for the peace of mind that comes with knowing I’m doing my small part to help conserve tropical biodiversity. I think I’ll go make a cup right now….
Here are some Rainforest Alliance Coffees you can buy right now!