A city in Germany wants you to abandon your single-serve coffee cups.

In 2014, Keurig sold 9.8 billion non-recyclable K-cups. That's enough cups to circle the Earth almost 11 times over.

There are few things more satisfying on this planet than a hot cup o' joe. Coffee, I mean.

It lifts our spirits on the way to work. It gets us through that dreaded morning slog. It's, well...


Exactly. GIF via "The Mentalist."


In recent years, the single-serve K-cup (or whatever brand you choose) has quickly become a favorite method for delivering this heavenly elixir into our bodies as quickly and efficiently as possible. It better suits our unique, individual tastes than brewing an entire pot of coffee, and it cuts down on all that needless waste ... right? Nope.

Hamburg, Germany, just became the first city ever to ban single-use coffee cups from its government-run buildings because of how wasteful the cups are.

While the single-serve pods popularized by Keurig save us from having to dump the remainder of our coffee pots down the drain every day, the pods themselves are actually far more damaging to our environment.

The pods are made from a mixture of plastic and aluminum, and many of the world's recycling plants don't have the necessary resources to process them accordingly. There's also the issue of the cup's size, which at three grams, accounts for a third of the product's total weight.

Hello, you pretty little ... totally wasteful ... thing. Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

About 13% of Germany's citizens are daily drinkers of coffee made in a single-serve brewer, so the problem is quickly getting out of hand.

Hamburg has about 1.7 million, which means at least 221,000 single-serve cups are being disposed of by the day.

So in an effort to combat this K-cup epidemic, Hamburg government officials issued a series of purchasing regulations in January with the goal of making their city more sustainable and eco-friendly.

"These portion packs cause unnecessary resource consumption and waste generation, and often contain polluting aluminum," Jan Dub, spokesperson for the Hamburg Department of the Environment and Energy, said in a press conference held over the weekend.

It's not just Germany that has a serious caffeine problem.

GIF via "Futurama."

Here in the U.S., the percentage of households with single-serve coffee makers has jumped, from 15% in 2014 to 25% in 2015. In Western Europe and the United States, sales of single-serve cups have more than tripled in the past five years, with industry leader Keurig selling over 9.8 billion of them in 2014. And of those near-10 billion pods sold in 2014, only 5% were recyclable.

While Keurig has promised to produce a completely recyclable K-Cup by 2020, even its founder (and the inventor of the K-Cup), John Sylvan, admits that's an unrealistic goal.

"No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable," Sylvan said in an interview with The Atlantic. "I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it."

In any case, a tip of the cap is due to Hamburg for recognizing a problem and taking preventive measures so quickly.

The conveniences we desire in life can often come at the cost of sustainability, unfortunately. It's one thing to say that you're "going green," but it's another thing entirely to actually stick by your convictions when they require sacrifices.

In this case, that "sacrifice" could be as small as occasionally brewing a pot of coffee for you AND your co-workers to share. You know, like human beings.

And besides, it's not like drip coffee is that hard to make, right?

Unless you're Dwight Schrute, that is. GIF via "The Office."

Heroes

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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