Nineteen years ago, John Sylvan invented the K-Cup brewing system as a modern-day alternative to instant coffee crystals.
Though the machine was created under the presumption it would be used primarily in office environments, the public caught on.
Today, one in three American homes owns a Keurig brewing machine, a reality Sylvan admittedly regrets.
Sylvan told The Atlantic in an interview,
I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it.
He cites the plastic cups' environmental impact as the source of his regret.
Last year, an estimated nine billion of the now-ubiquitous plastic pods were manufactured.
If laid end-to-end, those seemingly innocuous pods would circle the globe a whopping 10.5 times.
This success would be impressive if not for the fact that each one of these pods ends up in a landfill.
Because of what Sylvan describes as a “specialized plastic made of four different layers,” K-cups, according to the creator himself, “will never be recyclable.”
His warnings have been ignored, however. The company is allegedly working to make the drink pods recyclable by 2020, and the majority of the pods for the Keurig 2.0 packs will be recyclable by mid-March of this year.
Environmental impact aside, K-Cups are costly.
Sylvan himself admits,
I don't have one. They're kind of expensive to use. Plus, it's not like drip coffee is tough to make.
Therein lies the problem: What, really, is the purpose of the plastic pods?
A successful invention is one that solves a problem in a creative and intelligent way; the only “problem” that the Keurig system solves is speed, and that's only a problem because of our social obsession with immediacy.
Traditional coffee takes maybe five minutes to brew, makes significantly more coffee -- ideal for those who don't stop at one cup -- and, honestly, tastes a f*ck of a lot better than the bland, brownish liquid that drips out of the K-Cup pods.
The fact that the inventor himself laments the invention of the system is a telling sign that we, too, should phase it out. Keurigs do more harm than good, and a world dependent on bad coffee is a world I don't want to live in.
Learn more about the detrimental effects of the K-Cup system at KillTheKCup.org.