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Warning: Contents in column may be hot!

Kevin Garrity, Managing Editor

Kevin Garrity, Managing Editor

You are groggy; walking zombie-like from the warmth of the bed to your kitchen and all you want is that hot cup of coffee to drink while you read your morning newspaper (yes some people still get their news from the trusty print variety.)

Seems like a nice mental picture and not a bad way to start off your morning, but before you take that first sip of the steamy “ Best part of waking up,” understand that you could have saved 2.3 square feet of the Rainforest.

Drinking coffee, although seemingly an innocent activity, and done so regularly that it doesn’t garner many second thoughts, can be very harmful to the environment.

Recently, a common trend among coffee growers is to cut down native shade trees in order to plant more coffee trees.

The shaded trees that grow over the coffee trees help maximize the quality of the coffee beans, however the process takes much longer than if the beans had direct sunlight.

In turn, this process allows farmers to maximize their yield and increase the rate at which they can grow and sell their coffee.

Traditional coffee farms are a safe haven for most wildlife and they exhibit a natural eco-system. Now, coffee farms are overly packed with coffee beans and as a result of the unhabitable eco-system for most species, turned into a monoculture.

For instance, naturally grown coffee trees benefit neotropical migratory songbirds that winter in the Central American rainforests. The deforestation of shade trees has caused a decline the migratory habits of these birds and has resulted in a decline of its existing population.

According to the Rainforest-Alliance, “ More than 25 million people in the tropics depend on coffee, a crop that is the economic backbone of many countries and the world’s second most traded commodity after oil.”

At the current rate, the devastation to the eco-system could have long lasting negative affects, however if this type of chemically utilized farming continues, at the expense of our Rainforest, it can only exponentially speed up the rate of losing a natural habitat.

Local farms that emphasize a healthy, organic farming system can be supported by customers who will only by their types of products.

Look for grocery stores that sell coffee beans that are provide information on their label as to how exactly they are grown.

Some sure-fire labels include Bird Friendly, Rainforest-Alliance Certified, USDA Certified Organic or Fair Trade certified.
Small steps and small procedures that can go unnoticed during our every day lives can lead to long lasting positive affects. Examine some daily habits and think about what can be done in order to minimize the harm done to the environment.

The next time that steamy cup of coffee tries to widen your eyes in the morning, you can rest assure that the rainforest didn’t take an unnecessary hit in a time of environmental peril because you supported a fair trade, bird friendly, organic cup of coffee.

Keep affecting change with your wallet, and remember the best part of waking up is…helping the environment.

Kevin Garrity, a senior journalism major, is managing editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at

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