Fretting over what to do with those used coffee-grounds? Fret no longer, as we’ve got seven awesome post-java innovations
Coffee. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s a lot of it about these days. Whether it’s back-to-back global coffee chains swallowing up busy streets, artisan cafes making hipper creations for MacBook-touting media cats to sip or ambitious wannabe-baristas brewing it at home – there’s a lot of rubbish being produced in pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee, and we don’t just mean questionable latte art.
Our caffeine addiction means that more than 25 million tonnes of grounds are produced every year. Most of that is chucked in the trash bin and sent to landfill or for incineration, increasing both waste and greenhouse gas emissions. A project that recycles coffee-grounds into green energy, Bio-Bean, is targeting cafes and larger factories, but as that’s not yet an option for the masses, here are some brilliant (and not-so-brilliant) ideas for reusing those gunky grounds.
1. Fertilizer for your flowerbeds and vegetable gardens
If you’re lucky enough to have a patch of grass to call your own or even a veg or herb garden (Londoners and New Yorkers – stop reading now), hurl the grounds on to a compost heap with dried leaves or compostable coffee filters. The nitrogen boost will get your pile rotting revoltingly in no time – that’s a good thing, if you were wondering. You can even perk up pot plants or window boxes by sprinkling grounds on the soil.
2. Skin Exfoliator
Whip-up an easy and inexpensive exfoliator by mixing a spoonful of coffee-grounds with a few drops of olive or coconut oil. Massage into your skin in a circular motion and you’ll be left with a smooth complexion, a healthy glow, and a faint whiff of coffee following you around all day. Apparently this is a miracle cure* for cellulite, too. (*Not scientifically proven. At all).
3. Weaponizing agent for washing-up dishes
Baked-on leftovers sticking stubbornly to your pots and pans? Roll up your sleeves, chuck the grounds into soapy water and get scrubbing (with a scouring pad or brush, that is). Give it some elbow grease and behold your newly spotless pans. Note: this is not advisable for dishes that stain, unless you like your crockery with a murky brown tint.
4. Crispy caffeinated snacks
Not to be outdone by laughably caffeine-free vegetables like kale, parsnips and beetroot, coffee-grounds can also be made into crisps. Yes, crisps. There’s a recipe, of sorts, on food culture website Aorta, which involves cooking the grounds into porridge and roasting them – apparently they taste like dark chocolate. Just bear in mind that these are the same people who used the grounds to create ‘brown butter’, before serving it with game. Just saying.
5. Fabric for keeping you warm
Let your favorite bean keep you toasty after it’s been roasted, thanks to Australian company Mountain Designs, which has created a range of Coffee Fiber jackets filled with material made from a mix of recycled grounds and ethically sourced down. So forget your beer jacket the next time you’re on a big night out – a coffee jacket will do just fine. Plus they actually exist, unlike beer jackets.
6. Confetti alternative for weddings of acquaintances
Everyone knows by now that traditional confetti is a big environmental no-no. Sure, you can buy eco-friendly confetti made from petals or birdseed (no, seriously) or hemp yogurt or whatever, but why spend even more of your hard-earned on your friends’ wedding when you can just reuse all of last week’s coffee-grounds? Just dry them out, bring some to a wedding and launch it in an arc of mushy joy as your pals tie the knot. They’ll never forget such a grand, ecologically awesome gesture.
7. ‘Soft concrete’ for children’s playgrounds
You might think that the mushiness of coffee-grounds is a bad thing. WRONG, COFFEE-HATERS. That squishiness is actually a blessing in disguise – if you value the safety and wellbeing of children, that is. Those mushy grounds are the perfect base material for the floor of kids’ playgrounds, meaning that when your little darling takes a tumble, their fall will (hopefully) be broken by the wondrous waste. Coffee-grounds are also a known shock absorber – we think (although we accept absolutely no responsibility if that turns out to be false). Thanks, coffee – you really are the best.
Main Photo Source: Wiki Commons