Conservatives Destroying Keurigs Are Inadvertently Joining an Environmentalist Movement

Progressive advocates have been urging people to give up K-Cups for years.

A closeup of wet coffee grinds in a filter
Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Over the last 24 hours, fans of the talk-show host Sean Hannity have taken to destroying Keurig coffee-pod machines.

In what’s being called the “Keurig Smash Challenge,” many people have posted videos online of aggressive destruction. At least one person did so with a golf club.

The challenge is metaphorical, as the coffee makers are small and fragile. And the performances are rather a protest of a protest, unfolding in the wake of Keurig pulling its advertising from Hannity’s show as a result of his tepid coverage of the child-molestation allegations surrounding Alabama judge and senate candidate Roy Moore. Hannity applied a criminal precedent to a political race, arguing that “every single person in this country deserves the presumption of innocence.”

In response to consumer complaints, Keurig wrote Saturday, “We worked with our media partner and Fox News to stop our ad from airing during The Sean Hannity Show,” in a tweet that has since been deleted. (Keurig CEO Bob Gamgort today clarified that “the decision to communicate our short-term media actions on Twitter was done outside of company protocols.”)

Snoop Bailey / Twitter

The ideological basis of the Keurig Smash Challenge is murky and filled with directionless energy, not unlike coffee. The protesting of Keurig is a small step removed from overtly supporting the reported actions of Moore. What’s more, destroying Keurig machines also clearly aligns these people with a global environmentalist movement. In 2015, the “Kill the K-Cup” campaign took hold among those concerned about the net waste of so many pods. A Canadian advocate encouraged people to publicly abandon the machines.

As I reported at the time, even John Sylvan, the coinventor of the Keurig machine, has regrets about inventing the system because of its wastefulness. He told me then, “I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it.”

Within days of that story’s publication, a wave took hold. Keurig announced a forthcoming machine that would allow for recyclable pods. Several other green-oriented companies entered the pod-coffee market with compostable pods or reusable devices that can be filled with coffee grounds. Still the majority remain in dumps and landfills, and vocal progressive advocates have encouraged people to get rid of their pod-based machines.

The environmental campaign may actually go against Moore’s political agenda. Moore’s campaign site does not give a clear position on energy policy, but he is not evidently aligned with anti-Keurig-level environmentalism. He wrote in a 2009 op-ed, “Not only is there no constitutional authority for Congress to regulate carbon emissions, but the premise of ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ upon which such environmental theories are based does not have the support of a scientific consensus.” This was false even at the time.

Now America finds itself in the midst of hordes of angry people with clubs who will soon be going through caffeine withdrawal. They could go to Starbucks, though the chain has also been condemned and boycotted by some isolationist conservatives, since earlier this year it promised to hire 10,000 refugees in response to President Trump’s executive order barring them from the country.

Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid supporting a social cause.

Hannity himself is now well aligned with the “Kill the K-Cup” environmentalist movement, as well as unearned coffee handouts. He tweeted Sunday, reassuring his potentially lethargic followers, “Deplorable friends, I am buying 500 coffee makers tomorrow to give away!!”