The Request: This week I ask you to think about your choices surrounding your coffee (or tea) consumption and how they may affect marine systems. What type of coffee (or tea) do you drink? Organic? Shade-grown? Folgers (which is wrong on so many levels)? What do you drink your coffee from?
To help you get on the right track. This week Strictly Organic Coffee is making the deal a little sweeter! For every purchase you make they will kick in some free organic Hazelnuts (type Deep-Sea News Just One Thing Challenge into the Special Order Instructions box). The coffee and nuts are fabulous. The coffee is shade-grown, organic, coffee pulp left over from processing (below) is composted, and additionally the coffee is fair trade. You really couldn’t feel any better about drinking a cup of coffee. Unless of course you drink it out of a mug (Eliminates the use of wasteful disposable paper cups)t hat supports the Ocean Conservancy, Oceana, or made under fair labor practices. If you drink tea try Choice Organic Teas (sorry no special offer)
Ongoing challenges can be seen here
People accepting the Just One Thing Challenge: 1. Craig McClain 2. Kevin Zelnio 3. Peter Etnoyer 4. Sheril K. 5. Mike G 6. Farne 7. Jim Lemire 8. Kiki 9. Fish Guy Dave 10. CK 11. Karen James 12. Merisea 13. Keely 14. tonyj 15. Traci 16. Mrs. Hillary Victoria Minor 17. Peter Mc 18. Tony D 19. Mary Aloyse Firestone 20. Miriam Goldstein 21.John 22. Judith in Ottawa 23. tjewell 24. Slim 25. Ashley 26. Silver 27. Steve W. 28. John Hill 29. Rachel 30. tjewell 31. Eric 32. jebyrnes 33. Lynna Landstreet 34. Ole 35. Carrie 36. Max 37. Marsh. 38. Summer 39. You?
1. Organic pollutants from coffee processing: Whether shade-grown, organic, or conventional, discharge from coffee processing plants represents a major source of river pollution. When coffee beans are separated from the cherry, waste material (pulp, residual water, parchment) is generated that often is disposed of in local waterways.
For example, the Guatemala-based Instituto Centroamericano de Investigación y Tecnología Industrial estimated that over a six month period during 1988, the processing of 547,000 tons of coffee in Central America generated 1.1 million tons of pulp and polluted 110,000 cubic meters of water per day, resulting in discharges to the region’s waterways equivalent to raw sewage dumping from a city of four million people.
This discharge of organic pollutants leads to anoxic waterways that suffocate wildlife. In some regions this waste travels down rivers polluting coastal marine systems.
2. Pesticide runoff: Sun-grown coffee (as opposed to shade-grown) requires significantly greater amount of pesticides that pollute waterways. As all things run to the sea, coastal areas subject to freshwater discharge from river and streams can become degraded. I have seen the impacts of pesticides and organic pollutants first hand in Costa Rica. You may question the extent that this will affect a deep-sea habitat so far removed for our actions. Pesticides do make them into deep-sea sediments. Traces of DDT are still found in sediments in the deep sea off the Monterey Coast. Schlunz and Schneider’s (2000) beautifully illustrates the extent major river systems can transport material to the oceans and on into the deep. Below are estimates of just organic carbon flux (as opposed to total material). The numbers are fluxes in 10^12 g or 1,000,000 tons per year. Some of the major riverine inputs occur in coffee producing areas.
Deforestation trends are serious throughout the coffee-producing lands of Latin America. Seven of the ten countries in the world with the highest deforestation rates are in Latin America and the Caribbean; these seven countries include Jamaica, Haiti, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico.
Less forests means more CO2 in the atmosphere leading to more acidic oceans.