By Sam Allen
Upon my return to campus after the long winter break, I delightedly presented my three roommates with what I believed to be a brilliant new addition to our household appliances. I spread my arms apart like a “The Price is Right” model and proudly revealed a brand new Keurig coffee machine. Unexpectedly, I was met with a lopsided grimace from my more environmentally conscious roommate. After asking her what was wrong with my new, prized coffee maker she informed me that landfills were being filled to the brim with used K-cups and that the machine would only inspire more waste.
I, like many others, had never considered how damaging the K-cup could be to the environment and was left perplexed with what to do. “What if I only use coffee grounds in lieu of K-cups?” I asked my roommate. She agreed that that would be the best possible compromise, but in truth it doesn’t solve the wide-scale problem. K-cups are not recyclable or biodegradable according to an article posted by The Atlantic. This leaves us with a “convenient” machine that buys into our on-the-go lifestyle while simultaneously adding to the mountains of trash heaps that are destroying our planet.
The plastic outer shell of the K-cup is apparently recyclable as long as the user “separate[s] the pod components,” according to recycleacup.com. This would require Keurig users to gut the K-cups and wash them out before throwing the plastic piece in the recycling bin. The disheartening truth about this uplifting fact is that I doubt that many people will care enough to put forth the effort. So here is my plea: I love my Keurig, and even the little K-cups that go with it, but could we please take an extra two minutes out of our morning routine to just remove the coffee grounds from the K-cups? It really would be a simple solution to a problem that is literally piling up and poisoning our planet. This isn’t The Martian, we can’t just move to Mars after we kill Earth. I know, I know, the Keurig is supposed to be fast, convenient and low-maintenance, but really would it kill you to just throw that piece of plastic in the recycling bin? I mean, it might kill you to not throw it in the recycling bin.
I’m all for the Keurig. I enjoy having a single serve cup of coffee that I can make in just a few minutes with minimal clean up. But, I also think it is our collective responsibility to keep our planet clean. So next time you put a K-cup in your Keurig, please consider cleaning it out and recycling the plastic.