12.29.2007

two follow-ups and a suggestion

A reader asked how I resolved my plastic bag dilemma: I followed-up on that here.

The Loblaws bags are great; I use them for everything. But no one's perfect, we sometimes still find ourselves bringing home plastic bags, so we're using those for dog pick-up. We also keep biodegradable dog pick-up bags for when we run out of the regular kind.

I also asked about how to stop Canada Post from clogging our mailbox with junk.

I'm appalled that they raise revenue by soliciting companies to flood us with "Unaddressed Admail". I understand paper-mail revenue is down. Wouldn't it be better to raise the price of stamps than to contribute to so much paper waste?

I asked our lovely letter carrier how we could opt out of the mailings, and she said, "You just did." She told me that technically she's supposed to produce a signed letter - that is, Canada Post places a burden on the recipient, making it much less likely folks will bother. But she also hates the unaddressed mailings, and goes with a verbal request from anyone on her route.

If you're receiving a lot of this crap, and if it goes straight to the recycling bin as it does in my house, I encourage you to speak to your letter carrier about opting out. I'm also going to tell Canada Post how I feel about this. I would welcome an organized campaign to stop the unaddressed mail. (I won't be organizing one myself, but I wish someone else would!)

And finally, a suggestion that is both yummy and environmentally friendly.

For many years, I made coffee with a drip coffee maker, as most people do. When I learned that the bleach used in conventional coffee filters releases chlorine and dioxins into the environment (and into the coffee drinker!), I switched to unbleached filters, and I used those for years.

There is also the permanent gold filter, but I think it gives a metallic taste to the coffee, and doesn't filter as well. So I was still using paper, but at least it was unbleached paper.

Then I had a coffee epiphany.

My girlfriend made a pot of coffee, and it was so much better than what I made at home! It was richer, hotter and altogether better tasting. We both bought good quality coffee beans, so the difference wasn't attributable to that. The answer: electric perc. Even my very good Braun coffeemaker was no match for her humble Farberware electric percolator.

I became a convert. Electric-perc coffee is fast, easy, delicious and requires no filters, so there's no paper waste of any kind.

There are two disadvantages compared to a drip coffeemaker.

If you're used to a "sip-and-pour" feature - where you can pour a cup of coffee while the pot is still brewing - you can't do that with a percolator. It's the whole pot or nothing. But the coffee brews much faster, so you don't have to wait as long.

And, if you like to prepare your coffeemaker at night and set the timer for the next morning, you can't do that with a percolator either. (Although I imagine you could buy an appliance timer and rig something up.) I never used the timer function, because I don't want coffee made from water that's been sitting, unrefrigerated, all night. But if you do like that, you'd miss it with electric perc.

But the coffee is so much better.

Another filterless option that someone is sure to mention is a French press or press pot. This is great if you only want one cup, or if you're serving one cup each to several people. But if, like me, you want to make a pot of coffee and drink several cups over the course of the morning, a press pot won't work for you. By the time you're ready for your second cup, the coffee will taste old and bitter.

Coffee brewed from an electric percolator is fast, hot and delicious. Electric percolators aren't easy to find, compared to drip. Most stores seem to stock one model, at most. But they make a great cup of coffee and you'll never have to buy another coffee filter again.

Here are more things every coffee drinker can do to drink a more environmentally friendly cup. I read that almost a quarter of the trash in Nova Scotia comes from Tim Hortons cups. Buy organic and bring your own mug.

electricperc

10 comments:

M. Yass said...

I asked our lovely letter carrier how we could opt out of the mailings . . .

Ahh, that must explain the "no junk, please" placard on my mailbox in Burnaby.

Oh my . . . my mailbox in Burnaby, BC that is. It's finally happening this Thursday!

M. Yass said...

For many years, I made coffee with a drip coffee maker, as most people do. When I learned that the bleach used in conventional coffee filters releases chlorine and dioxins into the environment (and into the coffee drinker!), I switched to unbleached filters, and I used those for years.

"Made only from 100% virgin pulp" on the side of the filter box was a big red flag for me. 'Course, they also claim to plant eight trees for every one they cut down, but we all know that's timber industry propaganda. I may have to consider a percolator now that I know the filters I used to make my Nectar of Life are contributing to deforestation. No, coffee is not a life essential. It's much more important.

And yes, I do get coffee from Tim Hortons, but I always bring my own cup. Interestingly, the people who work there always look at me funny when I tell them to hold the cream and sugar. And Timbits are divine.

L-girl said...

Oh my . . . my mailbox in Burnaby, BC that is. It's finally happening this Thursday!

YAY!

Interestingly, the people who work there always look at me funny when I tell them to hold the cream and sugar.

Why? Perhaps you're just supposed to say "black"?

L-girl said...

I may have to consider a percolator now that I know the filters I used to make my Nectar of Life are contributing to deforestation.

I originally switched for the taste and the temperature, and the absence of paper waste was an additional bonus. Now it's something I'm really glad I did.

deang said...

On the plastic bag thing, I haven't used them in years, as I don't shop much, but when I go grocery shopping I always take either a sturdy canvas bag specially made for shopping or an old paper grocery bag that I use over and over until it's weak enough to be composted. Where I live, that sort of thing is pretty common.

I've also been bothered by the knowledge that plastic garbage bags will probably sit in massive landfills for centuries or millennia without breaking down, so I as much as possible make sure there are no wet items in my trash so that I can put everything in old paper grocery bags. If anything is too big I break it down into smaller pieces. I like the idea, too, of not contributing too much space to the landfill. I don't generate much trash so this isn't much hassle, really. I don't know what I'd do if I had kids.

L-girl said...

Where I live, that sort of thing is pretty common.

Wow, that's terrific. It's only just catching on here. All the grocery stores are now selling sturdy canvas bags, some of them better than others. Mostly they sell for $1 each, a good deal.

I see some people using them, but not nearly enough. I wish the stores offered more incentives to use them. Where we shop offers 1 cent off per bag! One cent?! At least make it a 10 or 20 cents.

Nancy said...

I use a French press and it can make up to 6 cups of coffee, and keep it warm for about an hour.
Of course percolated is best. I had no idea they even still made the old Farberwares. I remember the lovely 'pock' sound they used to make.

L-girl said...

I use a French press and it can make up to 6 cups of coffee, and keep it warm for about an hour.

And it doesn't get too bitter to drink? Interesting. I thought french press was drink it now or never.

I had no idea they even still made the old Farberwares. I remember the lovely 'pock' sound they used to make.

I like that too. :)

Adam said...

I have another suggestion in regard to coffee filters...reuseable HEMP coffee filters for drip machines. One can buy both cone and basket types on-line. They last forever.

L-girl said...

Thank you, Adam. How do you clean them between uses? I would imagine they are tough to wash out.