The environmental cost of the pumpkin spice latte

September 13, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

With fall around the corner, the pumpkin spice latte (PSL) has already taken over Starbucks menus across the country, and it’s likely that the crisp mornings will send you straight for the drive-thru. But before you prove your loyalty to the iconic, autumnal beverage, consider the effects your morning brew might have on the environment and your health, from the ingredients to the drive-thru to the disposable cups. The ingredients can be bad for the Earth and our health The recipe varies from one place to another, but it’s worth asking the question, “What is in that pumpkin spice latte, anyway?” Most contain a combination of traditional fall spices, steamed milk, espresso, often sugar and sometimes some pumpkin puree, topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice. While that might sound wholesome, researchers have found things like sulfites, potassium sorbate and annatto, which have been linked to breathing conditions, damage to genetic material and effects on blood pressure. Even when Starbucks announced its intention to switch to real pumpkin instead of a mixture of artificial flavors, other ingredients might also be problematic, such as commercially produced milk and non-organic pumpkin that contributes antibiotics, pesticides , insecticides and herbicides to our diets and ecosystems. Organic is a better option, and some groups have pressured Starbucks to make the change to no avail. Related: The problem with coffee pods and the eco-friendly alternatives to use instead You should also know the concoction is barely even coffee, with a very low amount of caffeine. While it’s difficult to know exactly what’s mixed into your cup, before you indulge, do your own research about what you’re ordering. Note that a 16-ounce cup, or “grande,” with 2 percent milk and whipped cream serves up 380 calories , 14 grams of fat, 52 grams of carbs and 50 grams of sugar. PSL impacts our planet in many ways Cultivating the ingredients for your cup of seasonal Joe is rough on the planet. Consider the impact to the Amazon alone, where 2.5 million acres have been cleared in favor of coffee plantations over the past few decades. Sure, your single PSL isn’t to blame, but the cultural and habitual elements of the daily coffee run are; not to mention the whipped cream topping and the ever-growing awareness of the effect cattle has on the planet. Animal agriculture is one of our planet’s largest contributors to air quality issues, making that frothy topping and milky foundation anything but a treat. Then, there is the fact that coffee is a water-intensive crop, with Mother Nature Network reporting that it takes about 37 gallons of water to grow and process the coffee beans to make one cup of coffee . Take into account the process of making a cup of PSL and washing dishes afterward, too. Humans are responsible for polluting our waterways , which comes as no surprise after many years of headlines regarding landfills, lawn fertilizer runoff and microbeads. What you might not realize is something as simple as a cup of PSL can result in water pollution. While it might not be as toxic as Roundup , a group called Sound Citizen has monitored the waterways around the Pacific Northwest for the past decade and reported finding higher amounts of cinnamon and pumpkin spice throughout the fall season. PSLs leave a trail of waste Following the damage that the ingredients of the PSL have on the planet is the waste left behind. To perform at the level we expect, manufacturers coat the disposable paper cups in plastic, for which the planet does not thank us. Even when the paper manages to break down naturally, the residual plastic is left to sit in the soil and eventually the waterways. Add to that the plastic lids and straws (unless of course, you have your own ), and you’ve contributed plentiful carbon emissions and landfill waste in a single sip. The larger point to this is that everything we produce and consume has an effect on the water and earth, from the pumpkin and coffee remnants tossed at the cafe to the garbage full of drippy, plastic-lined cups to the waste we release in our urine. How to enjoy an eco-friendly PSL You might not be able to pass up the PSL 100 percent of the time, and we’re not saying you should, but awareness is a huge part of the battle. There are several things you can do to lessen the burden on the planet. Firstly, bring your own refillable cup and skip the single-use option. At the very least, avoid the lid and straw. Secondly, skip the whipped cream and opt for soy or almond milk options. Finally, avoid idling in the drive-thru. Organize coffee stop carpools at the office, walk to your morning spot or at least turn off the engine while you wait. Related: The homesteader’s guide to a perfect pumpkin spice latte Another alternative option is to make your own PSL at home. Enjoy the warmth and endearing scent emanating from your mug with ingredients sourced locally. Plus, using your own recipe means you know what went into it, like organic milk and pumpkin. If you’re not sold on making your own concoction, seek out local coffee shops that offer organic and natural ingredients. Cheers! Via Care2 , Society 19 , Earth Day , Independent , Mother Nature Network and Atlas Obscura Images via Pexels , Mimzy , Robert Couse-Baker , Daniel Spils and Jill Wellington

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The environmental cost of the pumpkin spice latte

Eco-Friendly Digital Currencies: the Future of Our Planet

September 11, 2019 by  
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Cryptocurrency is a hot buzzword in our financial landscape today. … The post Eco-Friendly Digital Currencies: the Future of Our Planet appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Eco-Friendly Digital Currencies: the Future of Our Planet

Earth911 Inspiration: Smart Monkeys Ruining Their Only Planet?

September 6, 2019 by  
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Earth911 inspirations. Post them, share your desire to help people … The post Earth911 Inspiration: Smart Monkeys Ruining Their Only Planet? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Inspiration: Smart Monkeys Ruining Their Only Planet?

Forests for Future: Protecting Rainforests & Endangered Orangutans

August 19, 2019 by  
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Recent studies have indicated that expansion of our planet’s forests … The post Forests for Future: Protecting Rainforests & Endangered Orangutans appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Forests for Future: Protecting Rainforests & Endangered Orangutans

Earth Overshoot Day and the promise of ‘One-Planet Compatibility’

July 29, 2019 by  
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Can the private sector push back the day each year when we exceed our planet’s sustainability budget? Here are five paths forward.

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Earth Overshoot Day and the promise of ‘One-Planet Compatibility’

Carbon pricing and the journey towards an ‘energy constrained world’

July 11, 2019 by  
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An international system to curb energy use may be the only way to lift people out of poverty while preserving the planet.

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Carbon pricing and the journey towards an ‘energy constrained world’

Carbon pricing and the journey towards an ‘energy constrained world’

July 11, 2019 by  
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An international system to curb energy use may be the only way to lift people out of poverty while preserving the planet.

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Carbon pricing and the journey towards an ‘energy constrained world’

Smart fertilizers help farmers and fight climate change

July 9, 2019 by  
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Synthetic fertilizers aren’t great for natural ecosystems, but they do help farmers produce the crop yields needed to feed the world’s skyrocketing population. Since major chemical companies began pushing fertilizers, farmers have been spraying their fields and hoping for the best. Over the past two decades, however, controlled-release fertilizers have become available with high-precision release formulas that are not only better for the plants but are arguably better for the planet. Controlled release fertilizers contain nutrients in capsules instead of the soluble granules of conventional fertilizer. The capsules slow down the release of the nutrients, which gives the plant more time to absorb everything rather than having to take up the nutrients all at once. Recently, slow-release fertilizers have become even smarter. Companies like Haifa Group and ICL Specialty Fertilizers have capsules that release at different intervals depending on the soil conditions — such as temperature, acidity or moisture level. Related: Can vertical farming feed the world and change the agriculture industry? When combined with GPS sensors, soil quality mapping and artificial intelligence , precision farming technology can save farmers and neighboring ecosystems from serious fertilizer waste and pollution. A recent study by Michigan State University revealed that smart fertilizers also benefit the planet. According to the research, precision fertilizers and remote sensing technology could save 6.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere — the equivalent of 1.5 million cars per year. The technology they studied identifies a farmers’ most productive land using historical yield data and fertilizer rates. With this knowledge, large-scale farmers can focus crop production and fertilizer use on only the most productive land and reduce their use of fertilizers on land where the crops simply won’t perform as well. The researchers also suggest that farmers could use these least productive zones to develop “wild areas” specifically for important pollinators like the honeybee . “Nobody wins when fertilizer is wasted on areas that won’t produce,” the Michigan State researchers wrote in the published study . “Once farmers identify these areas, they can both save money and help the environment.” Via Scientific American Image via Binyamin Mellish

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Smart fertilizers help farmers and fight climate change

Youth Climate Summit: Young People Mobilize To Protect the Planet

July 9, 2019 by  
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With such an important issue as protecting their planet from … The post Youth Climate Summit: Young People Mobilize To Protect the Planet appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Youth Climate Summit: Young People Mobilize To Protect the Planet

A Call to Action on Arbor Day to Help Our Planet

April 24, 2019 by  
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There are certain things in nature we take for granted. … The post A Call to Action on Arbor Day to Help Our Planet appeared first on Earth911.com.

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A Call to Action on Arbor Day to Help Our Planet

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