The single serve coffee pods popular with office kitchens and harried home coffee makers pack a convenient punch of caffeine in each of their foil-topped cups, and they've become a big hit since they hit the market a few years ago. Popularized by the Keurig brand, the cups have dramatically increased in popularity, more than tripling sales since 2011. But with all that convenience comes the dark side of disposal, with gargantuan amounts of pod trash generated annually.

According to data compiled by Quartz, the amount of K-cups discarded in 2011 could have circled the Earth more than six times; in 2013, it could have circled the globe 10 times. The problem is that 95% of pods manufactured by Green Mountain coffee-owned Keurig cannot be recycled, an issue the company has promised to fix by 2020. With nearly 1/4 of U.S. coffee consumption coming from these pods, the problem is only going to get worse before it gets better. Coffee pod machine sales have bloomed to 11.6 million in 2013, up from 1.8 million in 2008.

Americans are noted for their love of convenience over quality—nobody could argue the pods rival a decent drip coffee—but espresso snobs in Europe have been swayed by the call of the one-button brew. Sales of drip coffee makers in Western Europe declined for the first time ever last year, selling just over 9 million units to pod coffee's 10 million. Even Michelin-starred eateries around the globe are pushing out the cone for cup. Somewhere beneath a mountain of coffee pods and Cronut boxes, Gaia weeps.