Can Convenience Be Sustainable?

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While many countries view coffee as a means to slow down, relax, and socialize with one another, the United States’ coffee culture rings entirely different. Lines remain long and drive-thrus stay packed as millions of Americans frantically caffeinate during their morning commutes. Coffee fuels the working population. In many ways, it impacts productivity, morale, and efficiency. However, this great of an impact on society and culture catalyzes an equally large impact on the environment.  

Climate change continues to affect the planet, and the coffee industry must adapt and respond with protective, preventative measures. Around the globe, independent coffee farmers and major producers alike are modifying their practices to address environmental issues such as deforestation and drought. Although these changes are noteworthy, improvements must be made from a consumption standpoint as well.

Single-use cups, lids, straws, stirrers, protective sleeves, and single-serve pods play an integral role in the convenient, on-the-go nature of coffee in America. In fact, they’ve quickly become “essential.” Remembering the travel mugs proves hard for many, but they must now be ditched altogether as many coffee shops no longer serve drinks in reusable cups due to COVID-19. Amidst a pandemic, a quick coffee run becomes increasingly unsustainable. 

In addition to recent health precautions, sustainability challenges arise due to conflicting interests amongst companies, consumers, and the government. By nature, capitalism and a free market thrive with little regulation. However, the most ethical option is usually not an inexpensive option. Unfortunately, many coffee companies cannot stay competitive by spending thousands more dollars on highly sustainable packaging while their rivals elect to use low-cost, single-use plastics.

The American government has yet to enact substantive legislation to address unsustainable packaging norms. Without these mandates, companies continue to produce and package with low-cost models. Thus, the trickledown effect is quite striking. Many consumers want and expect eco-friendly options, but these substitutes are often inaccessible or expensive. Consequently, people unhappily resort to products that are readily available and budget-friendly. 

While the issue seems quite puzzling, companies across multiple industries continue to craft business models with a triple bottom line in mind—people, profit, planet. In the coffee space specifically, GOffee serves as an example of change that offers a unique alternative. Your favorite drink doubles as a time-saver; your morning fuel now helps your productivity and the planet. By delivering personalized coffee in reusable, insulated cups, GOffee saves its customers time and money while minimizing their environmental impact. With a little creativity and passion, convenience really does align with sustainability.

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