Coffee Pods: The epitome of convenience culture?

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Nothing says consumerism quite like getting our daily magic bean fix from a little plastic pod at the touch of a button, sure they may cost £5 a box and produce a sickening amount of waste, but who cares if they save us a minute of our precious time… right?

I like coffee. I don’t often have a lot of time in the morning, so I like convenience. Last year I was given a coffee machine for Christmas, you know the kind with the little plastic pods. And it really is a lovely, thoughtful and much appreciated gift (It’s space age-y and red, and well… cool looking). But I can’t help feel a little guilty (and hypocritical) about it.

It seems like much of the negative press (in Europe anyway) these machines get is that the coffee is not very good (I disagree, but I’m not a coffee snob connoisseur), and not a lot to do with the problematic packaging.

The pods are such an awkward shape, it’s not hard to imagine them escaping the litter bins and finding their way into the environment, not to mention they contain multiple materials inside a pesky little package, thus making them hard to separate and recycle.

It feels like such a senseless waste of resources for the sake of a little convenience when using a bit of filter paper (and yes having to wait more than 30 seconds and shock horror clean your machine more regularly) or a cafetiere, would suffice.

It is possible to recycle the pods, however, this involves a degree of effort and thus defeats the point in a convenient cup of coffee. In this particular brand, you have to separate the film from the rigid plastic, dig out the grounds (perhaps compost them), dig out the aluminium, rinse and then recycle. I wonder how many of us actually bother to do this…?

We have a rather large pile currently awaiting disassembly in our kitchen, and as we are trying to go as single-use plastic free as possible, need to find an alternative and fast.

So what do we do? Stop using our coffee machines altogether? Put pressure on the coffee companies to come up with a suitable alternative? (it’s worked with straws here in the UK), Spread the word by making spoof movies like the Kill the K-Cup campaign?

There are some biodegradable alternatives and adaptors (I’m currently hunting for a suitable one) that you can put grounds in, but as far as I’m aware (correct me if I’m wrong) these don’t exist for all of the different kinds of machines.

Coffee pods seem to epitomise convenience culture, and after some (very unscientific) research just now it seems the market appears to be booming (blame George Clooney). But surely, with such a focus on preventing plastic pollution at the moment, the single use pod’s days must be numbered?

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