Sustainability Hacks for Every Coffee Shop

There is no doubt that a climate crisis is upon us, and to protect the planet, we all need to look at a more sustainable approach to how we live. Every person and business needs to be conscious of the environmental impact of their actions.

However, it may seem that changing your coffee shop to running on a more sustainable model isn’t going to make a massive difference in the grand scale of things.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Coffee is the world’s favourite beverage. According to one survey, in Ireland, 70% of the population drink more than one cup of coffee per day. Coffee is a huge market and changing your coffee shop to a more sustainable model will have its own small effect, but it will also help to educate a captured market on the importance of sustainability.

Of course, it’s also good for business.

As consumers become more aware of the need to change the way they live, they are increasingly turning to greener options in all aspects of their lives. With consumers switching to environmentally friendly options, your “green” coffee shop will be in a prime position to grab a large share of a rapidly growing market.

It doesn’t take much to turn your coffee shop into a greener and more environmentally friendly business, and to help you get started, we have compiled a list of sustainability hacks. 

Switch to low energy lighting and equipment

Let’s start with an obvious one, but in the current climate of rocketing energy prices, it is perhaps one of the most relevant. Ensuring that all your lighting and other equipment is optimised to use as little energy as possible will save you money as well as helping to save the planet.

Switching to LED bulbs is a great start but consider all the equipment in your shop. Do the toilet lights use motion sensors to come on only when needed? Are your fridges energy-efficient? What about the coffee machine itself?

Switching to an energy-efficient coffee machine could save you money in the long run. With energy use optimised throughout the machine and boilers that use high-quality insulation, these can almost halve your costs.

Finally, make your staff aware of the importance of saving electricity at every possibility, turning off unnecessary lights, using the dishwasher only when full (more about this later) can all help reduce your carbon footprint and your energy bills too!

Avoid single-use plastics

Single-use plastics are one of the key areas that we all need to tackle if we want to successfully move to a “circular” and sustainable economy. The single-use plastic problem is well documented, with plastics clogging up our landfills and our oceans.

Plastic spoons and stirrers are a great starting point, as well as plastic packaging on pastries and sandwiches. But for a coffee shop, perhaps the biggest issue is the disposable cups that are used. Most of these are plastic coated making them almost impossible to recycle.

Switching to a 100% compostable cup that contains zero plastic will make a massive difference to your single-use plastic usage. To get an idea of the scale of the problem and how effective this step will be, you just need to consider the fact that in Ireland alone, 200 million disposable coffee cups are discarded annually, most of these end up in landfill sites.

Reduce water wastage

Water usage might not seem to be something that a coffee shop could easily make changes. After all, making coffee does consume a lot of water.

But it is important because on a global scale, climate change is drying up rivers and causing more frequent droughts, and when this is paired with an ever-increasing population, many parts of the world are now facing a water crisis.

Simple steps like only using the dishwasher when it is full, making sure staff don’t leave taps running unnecessarily, dealing with those annoying little leaks, and adding aerators to pumps all help.

Switch to green brands and suppliers

This is an area where your actions could have a greater impact beyond your shop’s own direct interaction.

The concept of a “circular economy” is often touted as the target for a truly sustainable society. A circular economy looks to ensure that waste is addressed at every step of the business process. This looks to achieve 100% reusability or recycling of every material involved from manufacture to consumption.

By switching to greener products that are manufactured using methods that contribute to a circular economy, you can make the impact of your actions felt far outside your direct sphere of influence.

Switching to wooden stirrers from sustainably harvested trees, buying coffee that uses green production methods, sourcing fresh ingredients locally, and switching to green products like fully compostable cups are all hacks that are all easily achieved and make a massive difference.