Greener Drinks?

Since my last post, several people have spoken to me about the difficult choices we make when trying to live a greener lifestyle, with no easy answers, just more questions. Just when I was happy to justify drinking fair trade coffee and tea, I was sent an email with a link to cafe direct’s analysis of the carbon footprint of their tea and coffee  http://brewing.cafedirect.co.uk/2010/04/01/a-glimpse-into-our-2009-carbon-footprint/ .

Contrary to my expectations, the transport element of their carbon footprint was minimal, with more emissions coming from the processing and consumption stages (ie boiling the kettle). Tea has a lower footprint than coffee scoring better in production, processing, shipping and packaging, and I think I read somewhere that loose tea is better than teabags as there is less processing involved. The decaffeination and freeze drying processes of producing coffee can triple the carbon footprint of a cup of decaf freeze-dried coffee compared with a cup of normal tea. So at least I can drink my full caffeine coffee without too much guilt, and drink even more tea….  By coincidence I was recently given a tin of loose leaf Cornish tea, which probably makes the debate even more difficult. It would be interesting to see the carbon footprint comparing imported food with home produced food, not just for tea but for other products too, particularly if the transport element of carbon emissions is minimal compared with production and processing. It’s so complicated! It could well be that Cornish tea has a higher carbon footprint, if the growing, processing and packaging methods are all more intensive.

Anyway, I’ve been asked to speak on Radio Bristol next week on local food at Christmas, so I’m going to enjoy the research, completely guilt-free. If you have ideas on what I could include, please get in touch…

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