A morning without coffee either means that I am sick or that I overslept. Either way, a morning without coffee means a bad day. The delicious aroma wakes me up in the morning (assuming I am prepared enough to set up the coffee maker the night before) and at this point, I’m sure my blood has been replaced by my beloved brown ambrosia. Unfortunately, loving coffee has implications if you care about the environment. As the second-most-traded commodity after oil, the gas needed to get the coffee into my cup alone is enough for concern. What doesn’t come to mind, though, are the impacts of coffee’s agriculture.

Traditionally, coffee grows in tropical and subtropical environments at high elevations in mountainous areas under the shade of a tree canopy. The mere presence of the tree canopy allows for great levels of biodiversity of plants and animals, as well as eliminates the need for soil fertilizer. With increased demand, though, “full-sun” farms have turned coffee into a monoculture plant, much like corn and soy. Similar to the devastation bees face from monocultivation, rainforest animals and plants suffer from the lack of biodiversity and must adapt, relocate, or else face extinction. On the other hand, shade-grown plantations are second to undisturbed rainforests, according to the American Bird Association, as the best habitat for birds and other fauna in South America.

Brazil and Vietnam are the two biggest producers of coffee in the world. With three-quarters of their coffee farms containing no tree cover, the impacts of the coffee economy are apparent. In producing a higher yield of beans, sun cultivated coffee requires deforestation of jungle habitats, creates a need for soil fertilizer and other chemicals, and makes permanent changes to the local ecosystem. Most full-sun coffee farms grow bitter-tasting robusta coffee plants, typically used in instant coffee and pre-ground cans like Folger’s or Maxwell House. High-end options, like Starbucks, often use arabica coffee beans, a different species of the plant. Arabica plants are more likely to be grown in the shade, but even so, a shocking 41% of coffee farmland had no shade trees in 2010. With the industrialization of coffee farming, processing plants have contaminated waterways from its reliance on fertilizers and other chemical additives. Topsoil erosion has been increasing due to the widespread use of monoculture farms in Brazil, whose crops eerily resemble corn fields in the Midwest.

So what is the environmentally conscious coffee consumer to do?

The answer is simple: we make the effort to consume shade-grown coffee.

Purchasing robusta bean coffee, like a can of Folger’s or the like, support full-sun farms and the destruction of biodiversity. Although cheaper, these items leave a higher carbon footprint and more devastating trail in their wake. Thankfully, the Rainforest Alliance and Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center both certify coffee beans that have been grown sustainably. Organic and fair-trade certified coffee beans don’t necessarily guarantee shade-grown coffee but aren’t a terrible alternative. While both of these options are often more expensive, nothing beats the quiet enjoyment of a morally right and environmentally friendly cup of coffee.

“Where’s your engagement ring?! Where are my grandbabies?!”

“Oh, don’t hold the baby, you’ll catch the fever!”

“It’s like I’m preparing you for when you’re a mom!”

Quotes from women older than me, directed towards me, about future me. My response usually includes some light laughter and a quiet,  “Not yet.”

I haven’t thought much about having children outside of lectures about childbirth and human development. I know that midwifery is an evolved necessity due to our bipedalism changing the shape our hips and the birth canal. I know that human babies are born underdeveloped, with GI tracts and immune systems that need more time before functioning, all to accommodate our larger brains. Jaundice might be an evolutionary adaptation and scheduled feedings several hours apart are not beneficial for breastfeeding mothers or children. From an evolutionary perspective, our most primitive and basic goal is to reproduce to pass on our good genes to the next generation.

With the development of culture, agriculture, and industrialism, humans have surpassed these primitive goals. Now, we have so many individuals in our species that there are, surely, tons of “good genes” being passed on. An estimate from August 2016 of the human population suggests 7.4 billion people are currently alive all over the earth. Estimates from the United Nations suggest that this will increase to 11.2 billion individuals by 2100. Overpopulation is a real issue in many places globally; the most well-known solution to this came from China, with the one-child family planning policy. We do not have the room or the resources for more people. And yet, we keep reproducing, because that is what we do. But, another factor that is often ignored comes into play for modern populations when considering reproduction: environmental repercussions.

These repercussions have been documented in a number of ecosystems all over the earth—anthropogenic impacts have increased the rate of extinction by 1,000 times the pre-human rate globally, caused climate change, and permanently changed the landscape of the planet. Humans have drastically reduced the habitats of many forms of life. We are killing the coral reef; we fragment forests and leave orangutans stranded (an issue because they live solitary lives and only interact with the opposite sex to copulate); we are killing the bees; we leave massive carbon footprints simply by existing in this modern age. Americans consume the most out of any other country. The average American emits almost 20 tons of carbon, compared to 4.6 tons from the average Chinese citizen. As an American, it’s ignorant to not consider the environment when deciding whether to have children.

A 2009 study completed at Oregon State University analyzed the carbon legacy of individuals when choosing to have children. It found that by choosing to reproduce, women add 9,441 metric tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere for each child. To put this in perspective: the most environmentally conscientious, Prius-driving, recycling woman would only reduce her emissions by 486 metric tons of CO2 in her lifetime. Having two children adds over 18,000 metric tons of carbon. Now, this isn’t to say that environmentally-driven lifestyle changes are futile—quite the contrary, actually, as these lifestyle changes work to lower emissions in the present time and to offset the drastic changes soon to come. But, this does provide food for thought. Is it worth it to have a child in 2016? How do you reconcile these conflicting interests as an environmentalist?

When engaging with the public on environmental issues, the children and grandchildren are always brought into the picture: “We need to create a better world for our grandchildren!” or “What world are we leaving for our grandchildren?” Really, just something along those lines, to add gravity to the reality of climate change. And yet, we are getting pregnant and raising our offspring in a world that will be drastically different if we don’t change our ways. How can we talk about the consequences of our lack of action for our grandchildren without considering whether or not there should be grandchildren?

Many millennials are opting to not have children. Some denounce the innate selfishness of reproduction; why create a mini-me just because I was told that this is the next logical step of life? Others cite overpopulation and choose to adopt instead. Still, others consider the environmental impacts and, again, decide to refrain. But, is it morally acceptable for me to have children, knowing full well the major climate change expected to occur in the coming years? I don’t think so. How can I be a loving and supportive mother if I know that the world my children will live in may not be habitable? Can I be a loving and supportive mother if I marry a green lifestyle with my own parenting skills?

While having a child isn’t obviously eco-friendly, it could be. What if that child grows up in a green household and develops a passion for protecting the earth? Teaching children more sustainable skills, like composting, gardening, and thoughtful consumerism can ensure the continuance of the environmental movement. Is it more effective to raise a new generation of eco-friendly fighters, or to take it upon myself to stop my descendants from polluting the planet?

This issue is complex and deserves to be mulled over thoughtfully. It is my own decision whether or not I personally would like to have children, but do I have the right to deny my spouse children if they choose to want them? How do male environmental activists consider this issue and where do we draw the line? Reproduction is not just a woman’s issue, but a global one.

I am still undecided on whether or not I would like to have children, and that’s okay. I have many years to live before that decision becomes relevant; I can ride out the next couple of years and see how the environmental movement progresses. Yet the food for thought remains: as environmentalists, how do we tackle reproduction when humans are the enemy?

When I was younger and a frequent participant in sleepovers (after the prank phone calls and truths about our crushes and dares about ding-dong-ditching the neighbors had grown tiresome) ghost stories were my favorite. I listened with the hardened demeanor only a 10-year-old could have—nothing was ever scary enough. That is, until I heard the story that would lead me to jump onto my bed in the dark as an adult (or else lose my feet).

The story has its variations. Essentially, the protagonist is lying in bed late at night, awoken by the sound of something dripping in the house. Too scared to look, she reaches off the side of the bed to find comfort in her dog. The dog licks the hand, and with newfound courage, she searches for the source of the sound during a number of trips. After each trip, the dog licks her hand for comfort. It is only on the last trip that the protagonist discovers that the plinking sound that woke her is from her dog, who is hanging dead in the shower. Then it clicks. A stranger—whoever did this to her dog—was licking her hand from underneath her bed all along.

Creepy, right? It probably didn’t help that I slept on the top of a bunkbed at the time, with no soul occupying the lower bunk. To personalize this fear (and possibly to justify my irrational hatred of this body part), I became terrified of my feet being bare when in bed. I always envisioned some depraved individual consisting of mostly skin and bones, a-la-Gollum from Lord of the Rings, reaching up and dragging me into an abyss or hacking off my feet with a rusty hatchet.

For some reason, the fear of what may happen to extremities that dare leave the sanctity of your duvet is shared by many. A quick google search of “uncovered feet while sleeping”  or “fear of feet uncovered” brings almost twenty million links—many asking if anyone else shares this fear. Consensus suggests that this trend stems from a lack of consequence from childhood irrational fears. With no consequence, why work to overcome our fears?

Sleep is essential for life. Without it, activities associated with digestion, cell repair, and growth are at risk; these occur most often during periods of sleep. Body temperature is now being seen as an important factor in the process of sleeping, with cooler temperatures being thought to cause sleepiness. Optimal sleep temperature is thought to be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, which is colder than my apartment (conveniently set at a nice, toasty 72 degrees when the thermostat is turned on). The bottoms of our feet contain vascular structures to help regulate heat loss, just like the face and ears. Thus, sleep scientists consider sleeping with a foot exposed to be a sleep hack, as it cools the body faster and sends you on the express train to SnoozeTown.

As a self-proclaimed sleep lover who can sleep whenever I want as long as I can get into a comfortable position, this goes against every fiber of my being. An exposed foot gives the stranger under the bed the perfect opportunity to attack. On the other hand, an exposed foot has the possibility to bring me to the Nirvana of sleeps. Refusing the prospect of good sleep surely seems like a consequence; it’s also a needed push to overcome my irrational fear of feet-stealing bed strangers. If more people knew that the benefits outweigh the costs—that feeling refreshed in the morning is a great trade for risking loss of appendages because of a boogeyman—would this fear eradicate itself?