10 Creative and eco-friendly ways to reuse coffee grounds at home
Did you know that most of the carbon released in the coffee industry occurs with the end-user or barista? As a conscientious coffee consumer you have a big responsibility to reduce the environmental impact of your brews. This is why we’ve started a series of blogs with tips and advice for becoming a more eco-friendly coffee drinker to help you out.
One easy thing you can do tackle the waste created when brewing your favourite drink. Choosing and disposing correctly of recyclable packaging is one thing; but what can you do with the used coffee grounds?
1. Fertilise your garden/make compost
Add used coffee grounds to your compost bin or straight onto your beds to add nutrients into the soil. Did you know that coffee releases calcium, nitrogen, potassium, iron, phosphorus and magnesium? All of these are great for plants and enriching your soil/compost.
It is worth noting that mature coffee trees release caffeine into the soil as a means of discouraging competing plants from growing nearby. There is still caffeine present in used coffee grounds so you many want to avoid spreading them around your existing crops, especially small seedlings as it may inhibit growth or germination.
2. Naturally repel pests
Coffee is a great natural pest repellent to use outside. Place used grounds in bowls around your seating area to discourage fruit flies, beetles and mosquitoes. You can even use it as a barrier around beds, pots or plants susceptible to slugs and snails as the gritty surface stops them in their tracks.
3. Neutralise odours
The nitrogen in coffee grounds is especially good at absorbing sulphur; a gas associated with bad smells. So repurpose those used grounds around the home to neutralise odours. Place a bowl of coffee grounds in the fridge, or in the kitchen to absorb cooking smells or create a homemade freshener for shoes and gym bags by filling an old sock or the end of a pair of tights with dried grounds.
4. Make a chemical-free cleaning scrub
Ground coffee can be re-used as an abrasive for household cleaning. Use with gloves or on a cloth to scour sinks and pans, polish cookware and clean your grill. If you prefer to clean without chemicals; coffee grounds can give you some extra scrubbing power.
Tip: Be sure not to use them on porous surfaces as they may stain.
5. Grow mushrooms
Coffee, with its high nitrogen content, makes a great homemade mushroom compost. While ordinary soil or compost won’t work for this fussy crop; coffee grounds will!
Collect up around 2.5kg and mix with 500g of mushroom spore and sawdust mixture (available online or from good garden centres). Place this mixture into a suitable container – freezer bags, or buckets will work, add air holes and cover completely. As long as you keep the mixture moist with a daily spray of water; you should see budding mushrooms within 4 weeks.
6. Repair scratched furniture
If you have scratched wooden furniture you can spend your money in the DIY store to fix it, but it might be worth trying a free solution first. Make a thick paste with your used coffee grounds, use a cotton bud to rub the paste into the scratch and leave for 5-10 minutes. This should help buff out the scratch and disguise it with a little natural dye. If your furniture is dark, repeat the process until you achieve the best colour match.
7. Create a sustainable beauty regime
Coffee grounds have so many uses in your beauty regime. From a natural exfoliating scrub, to a solution to under-eye bags. Plus the caffeine is a great antioxidant for your skin.
- Add coffee grounds to water or coconut oil for a home-made, all natural body scrub.
- Mix with honey for an exfoliating lip scrub.
- Make use of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties mixing with coconut oil and leaving as a mask for your whole face or to specifically target under-eye bags.
8. Tenderise and flavour meat
Coffee contains natural acids and enzymes which are perfect for tenderizing and marinating meat. The added bonus is that it can also enhance the flavours too. Either re-brew your used grounds and use it as a simple marinade for up to 24hrs in the fridge prior to cooking. Or add dried grounds to your favourite dry-rub recipe and apply 2hrs before cooking.
9. Treat your hair
It might seem strange to be rubbing coffee grounds into your hair but it’s actually a great idea for loads of reasons. The exfoliating properties will increase blood-flow to your scalp and improve dandruff too. While the acids in coffee are great for stripping away a build up of products and oils; it’s also thought that caffeine stimulates hair growth so it’s a great way to achieve lustrous locks!
10. Make odour neutralising soap
We mentioned before that coffee grounds neutralize odours, AND that they’re a key ingredient in your grooming routine, so making your own coffee soap is the ultimate way to save your skin, and save the planet – no more plastic hand wash bottles!
There are lots of recipes online for this, our favourite one can be found here.