Ever stopped to wonder about the environmental footprint of your daily coffee ritual?

Intrigued by the idea that a few simple adjustments to your daily routine could contribute to a greener, more sustainable future?

If you’re eager to explore how your coffee habits can play a pivotal role in shaping a plastic-free world, you’re in the right place. For Earth Day this year, let’s delve right in and explore how your coffee habits can impact the planet’s health and what you can do to aid the planet’s well-being as the climate crisis looms large.


What is Earth Day?

Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22nd, is a global event dedicated to raising awareness and taking action towards environmental protection. This year, Earth Day 2024 carries the theme “Planet vs Plastics”, shedding light on the urgent need to address the destruction caused by plastic pollution.

In this article, we delve into how this theme resonates with the world of speciality coffee, highlighting actionable steps for both those inside the industry and coffee enthusiasts at home to make a positive environmental impact.

Iron & Fire coffee and a hand grinder with scenery from a Shropshire hill in the background

The Plastic Predicament

Understanding the Global Crisis

Plastic pollution poses a significant threat to our planet, with detrimental effects on marine life and our ecosystems.

Did you know that every year, over 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans, wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems and endangering countless species?

Thankfully, this is now a topic that people are more aware of thanks to the work of charities and non-profit organisations like The Ocean Cleanup, Marine Conservation Society, and Greenpeace. But whilst awareness is great, it means nothing without action – and there is still a lot of work to do.

Perhaps most alarmingly, though, plastic pollution can also impact humans much more directly. In fact, studies have shown that plastic pollution not only contaminates our waterways, but also infiltrates our food chain, posing serious health risks to humans. It is very clear that this is something we need to tackle urgently.


Iron & Fire coffee being poured into the base of a Moka pot on a gas stove outdoors

Legislative Measures and Industry Impact

In the UK, legislative efforts to combat plastic pollution are underway, with bans on some single-use plastics.

We’re all pretty familiar with the ban on plastic straws, which brought about a lot of heated discussion as to whether it was a good thing or not. We’re all used to the soggy straws now though, right?

This came into effect back in May 2019, alongside a ban on plastic-stemmed cotton buds and stirrers.

Then, of course, before that there was the carrier bag charge that was introduced in October 2015 and was raised from 5 to 10 pence in May 2021. According to Defra,  this has cut single-use plastic bag sales “by over 97 per cent in main supermarkets”. We aren’t using plastic bags ourselves and this has certainly become common practice for most companies within the speciality coffee industry as well.

However, there is no denying that more can be done; especially within industries like speciality coffee. It may be that implementing stricter regulations on plastic usage, like extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws that hold coffee producers/roasters responsible for managing and recycling the packaging waste generated by their products for example, is required.

But it’s also evident that the promotion of sustainable alternatives are an essential step towards mitigating this crisis, too. Here are a few sustainable alternatives that companies within the industry could swap to:

1. Compostable Packaging:
Transitioning to compostable packaging materials made from plant-based or biodegradable sources would dramatically reduce the environmental impact of coffee packaging waste. At Iron & Fire, our 220g and 500g coffee bags are fully compostable.

2. Reusable Coffee Cups:
Encouraging the use of reusable coffee cups made from materials such as stainless steel, glass, or bamboo, is a great way to reduce the reliance on single-use plastic cups. At our coffee shop, the Hatch, we are always happy to use your reusable coffee cups for your drink and our takeaway cups are 100% compostable too.

3. Biodegradable Coffee Pods:
This is a major pressure point in the industry at present. In 2018 alone, around 56 billion capsules went to landfill, showing the drastic effect that non-biodegradable pods can have. Offering biodegradable coffee pods made from materials like paper or compostable plastics is the perfect way to provide a more sustainable option for single-serve coffee consumption. But it is clear that companies also have a responsibility to educate; according to a 2018 report by Halo, a British compostable capsule manufacturer, 42% of UK consumers just throw pods away without even checking whether they are biodegradable or recyclable first.

So, it’s clear to see what we within the industry can and should be doing. But how can you get involved? Let’s take a look.


A moka pot sat on a gas stove, which is being lit, on a tree trunk


How Can I Help With Climate Change?

Practical Tips for Reducing Plastic Footprint

As consumers, there are several simple yet impactful steps we can take to reduce our plastic footprint in our coffee routines. Embracing reusable cups ourselves, instead of disposable ones, is a simple yet powerful step towards reducing our plastic footprint. By making the conscious decision to carry our own reusable containers, we not only minimize waste but also inspire others to follow suit.

Additionally, opting for coffee products with minimal packaging or choosing brands that prioritise eco-friendly packaging materials can significantly reduce the amount of plastic entering our landfills and oceans.

Every small change we make in our coffee routines contributes to a larger collective effort to protect our planet for future generations.

Supporting Sustainable Practices

Do you support businesses that prioritise sustainability?

By consciously doing so, consumers can align their purchasing power with their environmental values. Choosing a speciality coffee brand committed to eco-friendly practices empowers consumers to make a positive difference with every cup.

Our environmental purpose is at the heart of everything we do. We’re proud of our commitment to ethically sourcing our speciality coffee beans from sustainable sources, stocking a number of Fairtrade and organic coffees.

We also have small initiatives, such as providing coffee chaff for the local community instead of just throwing it away. Chaff has many different uses in the home and garden and so we regularly hand this out to our local customers.


The views from Haughmond Hill, in Shropshire


Get Involved in our Competition

At Iron & Fire, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword – it’s our guiding principle. As the climate crisis worsens, we believe that Earth Day holds even more significance.

This year, we are running a competition on Instagram using the hashtag #ironandfireoutdoors, with the aim of encouraging our followers to appreciate the beauty that surrounds them. After all, if we don’t cherish our planet, we won’t be motivated to protect it.

You can find out more about the competition, including how to enter and the many prizes up for grabs, by checking out our Instagram page. Please note the competition ends at midnight on Friday 3rd May 2024.



For those looking to dive deeper into the fight against plastic pollution, there are numerous resources you can access and there are many organisations that offer valuable insights and opportunities for activism. From educational materials to community initiatives such as beach cleanups, recycling drives, and advocacy campaigns, individuals can find a variety of avenues to contribute to a plastic-free future.

Plus, online platforms and social media channels serve as valuable hubs for information sharing, networking, and advocacy. Joining online communities and following relevant hashtags allows individuals to stay informed about the latest developments in the fight against plastic pollution and connect with others passionate about environmental sustainability.

By tapping into these resources and actively participating in initiatives, you can truly play a vital role in driving positive change and fostering a plastic-free future for generations to come.

As we celebrate Earth Day this year, let us embrace sustainable practices and work towards a future where every sip of coffee brings us closer to a cleaner, healthier planet.

Coffee being poured from a Moka pot into an Iron & Fire cup outdoors


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What are some other ways to reduce plastic pollution in the coffee industry?

Apart from supporting sustainable coffee brands, you can opt for refillable coffee containers, participate in local recycling programs, and advocate for policies that promote eco-friendly practices within the coffee industry.

  1. How does plastic pollution affect marine ecosystems?

Plastic pollution poses a grave threat to marine ecosystems, as marine animals often mistake plastic debris for food, leading to ingestion and entanglement. Additionally, plastics can leach harmful chemicals into the water, further compromising marine life’s health and habitat.

  1. Where can I find more information on plastic pollution and its impacts?

You can explore reputable sources such as environmental organizations, scientific journals, and government agencies for comprehensive information on plastic pollution and its wide-ranging effects on the environment and human health.

  1. What do Iron & Fire do to have a positive impact on the environment?

We are dedicated to minimizing our environmental footprint and promoting sustainability in various aspects of our operations. As we said above, our environmental purpose is at the heart of everything we do.  From using eco-friendly compostable packaging, to implementing waste reduction strategies throughout the production process, to ethically sourcing our coffee beans from farmers and cooperatives committed to sustainable farming practices, we continually strive to demonstrate a strong commitment to environmental stewardship.