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John Sylvan, inventor of the Keurig K-Cups that proliferate office kitchens around the world, recently revealed that he regrets inventing them. This is not because he sold off his company for a paltry $50,000 in 1997, but because the damn things are terrible for the environment.
[…] it’s the environmental impact of the little plastic pods that bothers Sylvan the most. Keurig has long come under fire for its coffee-delivery system, which produces a considerable amount of waste that is next to impossible to recycle. Though the company has committed to making its pods more eco-friendly by 2020, many of the over 9 billion K-Cups sold last year were not recyclable or biodegradable.
With every cup of button-push coffee, humans make the world a little worse (provided they aren’t using the reusable K-cup option). Thankfully, a number of companies have stepped up to offer some environmentally friendly alternatives to the landfill-filling beast called K-Cup.
Ekobrew Refillable K-Cup—$10
Notice the resealable top. That’s where you put your coffee before filtering it through this environmentally sound gadget, over and over and over. This will certainly not appeal to those especially concerned with the taste of their coffee, as it’s made out of plastic. But for the pragmatists who simply need caffeine in their system before they can muster up the courage to face sunlight, here’s a more ecologically friendly way to do it.
It’s $10 on Amazon.
Ekobrew Stainless Steel Elite Cup—$16
This is the big brother to the plastic guy above. It operates on the same idea, but instead of your coffee slowly acquiring a plastic taste, this stainless steel K-Cup will remain more palatable for a longer time.
It’s yours for $16.
Keurig’s My K-Cup—$5
Here’s the problem company’s own take on a reusable plastic filter. As it’s designed by Keurig itself, it comes in three sizes to maximize compatibility across Keurig devices.
Price depends on size, but they start at $5.
San Francisco Bay OneCup—$23 for 36 cups
Forget plastic, metal, or reusing the same cup. This company has put its own environmentally friendly spin on the single-use K-Cup, making them out of biodegradable paper filters. Use them, throw them away, and feel nothing about it!
You can buy 36 servings for $24.
If a high-tech solution to instant brew is your solution, then perhaps forgo the Keurig idea altogether and try this out. The TopBrewer can be built into your kitchen and controlled via smartphone. It can create virtually any coffee drink you desire, and it is way sleeker than the monster Keurig taking up residence on your counter. Of course, it’s an expensive luxury and you’ll have to inquire about cost. But hey, you’re helping save the Earth.
This high-tech coffee-maker does it all: grinds, brews, and roasts. That’s right, you can even roast your own coffee beans. It also uses a recyclable filters and pairs with an app that helps you find new flavors. It’s more tech-friendly than that, though, and includes LED-lit notifications and technology that lets you customize your brew:
We are introducing Swipe & Brew: Just swipe the tag inside your coffee package and the machine will do its job. The Smart Reader inside of your machine understands the perfect roasting temperature and curve for the beans you are going to process. Lean back and wait for the perfect brew.
The cost? About $440.
Photo via chichacha/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Dylan Love is an editorial consultant and journalist whose reporting interests include emergent technology, digital media, and Russian language and culture. He is a former staff writer for the Daily Dot, and his work has been published by Business Insider, International Business Times, Men's Journal, and the Next Web.