Recycling Coffee – 25 Ways to Recycle Coffee Grounds

There are many new and commonly known ways of recycling coffee grounds. Recycled coffee grounds is an effective way to become more eco-friendly by reducing landfill waste and lavish garden plants and vegetables with natural, nutrient-filled compost for gardens. It doesn’t matter what coffee brands you use, and I’ve even heard that using decaffeinated coffee grounds is okay for composting too.

Coffee drinkers who brew their own grounds know that a week’s worth of used grounds add up fast, and there is no better way to dispose of old coffee grounds than to recycle the grounds instead of simply throwing brewed grounds in the trash. We usually brew two pots of coffee each day, which adds up to a lot of used grounds in a weeks time, creating lots of waste.

Coffee grounds are rich with vitamins and minerals, containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and a slightly acidic pH level between 3.0 and 5.0. If you’ve ever wondered what to do with used coffee grounds from your filter coffee maker, here are some environmentally friendly ideas to consider.

It is not recommended to use coffee grounds in your kitchen or bathroom drains to unclog sinks, tubs or showers. Using coffee grounds to unclog kitchen sinks will only cause the grounds to adhere to grease in the drain and make the clogged sink worse.

How to Recycle Coffee Grounds

  • Keep a small container of used coffee grounds by your kitchen sink. Use wet or dry grounds with soap to scrub greasy hands, pots and pans, grill grates and greasy surfaces alike. The coffee grounds act as a natural scrub and rinses off easily, with no leftover residue.
  • Compost coffee grounds to enrich nutrient content, including coffee filters and tea bags, which break down quickly during composting. Dump used grounds into your existing compost pile or bin, or start a new one.
  • Used grounds are an effective, natural way to fertilize roses. Simply sprinkle coffee grounds on the soil around the stem of the rose bush, but don’t allow the grounds to touch the plant itself.
  • Old coffee grounds are great for a worm farm. If you raise earthworms for gardens or fish bait, feed the worms cool, used coffee grounds.
  • Coffee grounds make an excellent wood stain for craft projects. Re-brew a sizable amount of used coffee grounds, allowing the water to steep with grounds for several hours, until cool. Pour the grounds through a coffee filter to remove grounds for a homemade wood stain for crafts. The amount of water used determines how dark the stain will be.
  • Rub a handful of coffee grounds over hands after handling or cooking fish, chopping onions or garlic, to remove strong food odors.
  • Coffee grounds also exfoliates skin during hand washing, leaving your hands soft and supple with a slight coffee fragrance.
  • Deodorize your refrigerator and freezer with used coffee grounds in place of baking soda. Place wet coffee grounds in a small open container in the back of the refrigerator until dried.
  • Reuse grounds to make fresh pots of brewed coffee. Dry coffee grounds (don’t roast them) on a cookie sheet in the oven at 150 degrees for an hour. Mix old grounds with an equal amount of fresh grounds for your next few pots of coffee.
  • Coffee grounds can be used for stuffing inside pin cushions, keeping the pins and needles rust-free.
  • Reduce or eliminate odors by filling cheesecloth or nylon knee-high pantyhose with used, dried coffee grounds and use in closets, cars, kitchen cupboards, bathrooms etc.
  • Use coffee grounds as an inexpensive sink, tub or shower scrub that won’t scratch. Use steeped grounds and a cotton swab to touch up furniture scratches.
  • Used grounds make a very cheap skin facial pack – similar to a mud pack. Mix ¼ grinds with one egg white and gently massage onto your face. Grounds are also good for skin dermabrasion.
  • Coffee and henna mixed together are sometimes used to create homemade, temporary tattoos. Tattoo fans sometimes use this method to make dye for permanent tattoos as well, but the safety of this idea is questionable.
  • Coffee grounds work well as a natural pest control for trees, cutworms and ants. Ants will not cross rings of coffee grounds. Create a ring of coffee grounds near entryways, doorframes, windows and window sills (anywhere you may have an ant problem) to keeps the pests out.
  • Coffee grounds sprinkled around your yard appears to work well to deter cats from doing their business in your yard or ruin your garden. Cats hate the smell of coffee and citrus smells. Mix coffee grounds well with used orange peels and spread the mixture around your yard and the surrounding area of your garden as a natural cat repellant.
  • Reuse coffee grounds as a natural, organic plant fertilizer. Sprinkle coffee grounds around the base of indoor potted houseplants, outdoor plants, flowers and gardens, then dig them in a little.
  • Grounds can also be sprinkled directly on your lawn. Sprinkle on “bald spots” in your yard. After a few days, you will notice the grass is growing and spreading into a lush green lawn.
  • Apply coffee grounds directly to acid-loving plants and bushes (such as azaleas, rhododendrons, ferns, roses, palm trees, laurels, gardenias, blueberries, cranberries, oaks, and spruces) as an organic coffee-ground mulch.
  • As a pest control agent, it has been found that slugs and snails (common garden pests in cooler climates) don’t like caffeine. Studies have shown that using a spray solution with high levels of caffeine, such as 1 or 2 percent, kills off 60 to 95 percent of slugs. A 1% solution kills 60% of slugs while a 2% solution kills 95% of all slugs. The 2% solution has been found to be more effective than the chemical normally used in slug control, known as metaldehyde.
  • Reuse grounds to dye clothing brown, tie dye t-shirts, paper and even Easter eggs. Coffee grounds can also be used to make homemade crafting dough for kids projects instead of plain flour and water.
  • Make natural, chemical-free, liquid fertilizer from old coffee grounds by mixing one half pound can of coffee grounds into a 5-gallon container of water. Allow the grounds/water mixture to sit outdoors to achieve ambient temperature. Diluting coffee grounds with water creates an excellent, cheap liquid fertilizer for indoor and outdoor plants, trees, shrubs and bushes.
  • Make your fireplace go green. Fireplace logs made from used coffee grounds emits less carbon dioxide than manufactured logs, while also helping to reduce landfill waste. Java-Log is an eco-friendly fire log made from coffee grounds and recycled materials (instead of timber) and these fire logs burn cleaner than traditional wood logs or store-bought fireplace logs.
  • Throw old grounds on the ashes in your fireplace before cleaning it out, which helps reduce fireplace dust from spreading.
  • Use spent grounds as an organic flea dip for dogs by rubbing coffee grounds mixed with water on your pet.

Even if you don’t brew coffee at home, you can still reap the benefits by visiting your local coffee shop and ask for their spent coffee grounds. Starbucks coffee shops are active in contributing used coffee grounds to customers for personal gardening use through its free “Grounds For Your Garden” program.

Many Starbucks locations have bags filled with coffee grounds at or near the front door in a basket for people to take at no cost. The Starbucks website says used coffee grounds are also available for city parks and playgrounds.

You can find many more alternative tricks and unique tips on recycling coffee grounds and other household items from magazines, DVD movies, books on recycling and living green HERE, at your local book store or the library.

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