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What to do with left over coffee grounds

There’s a lot of discussion surrounding ways to make coffee more sustainable at the source, but there’s also actions we can take at the other end of the spectrum to reduce waste.

The qualities of coffee…

Coffee’s qualities extend further than you might think. In addition to giving us a boost and stimulating us for the day ahead, there are multiple theories supporting the wider health benefits of caffeine.  

Caffeine also contains high levels of nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon and oxygen which can all be beneficial, if used in a smart way. Away from its chemical makeup, the physical texture and scent of coffee grounds are two other attractive qualities that can be taken advantage of. 

The best uses for ground coffee…

1. Composting

Depending on your coffee making device, your used coffee grounds may collect in a nice container for you. This can then be disposed of in your food waste bin and added to your compost pile, to great effect. 

The rich levels of nitrogen existent in coffee grounds make them a great ‘green’ composting material. However, in order to maximise the nutrient balance of compost, more ‘brown’ carbon-rich materials such as dried leaves and bark would need to be added. 


2. Fertiliser

Rather than adding coffee grounds to your compost pile, you can use them as an instant fertiliser for house and garden plants. 

As we know, coffee grounds are rich in Nitrogen, and they are relatively PH-neutral. This makes them an ideal fertiliser. 

Sprinkle your used coffee grounds across the soil and work it in with your fingers or a fork. This will add nitrogen as well as improving the soil’s water retention. 

Moreover, earthworms feed on organic matter and their castings contain nutrients that plants love. Coffee grounds are organic matter, so adding them to your garden will attract earthworms, which will, in turn, provide your plants with vital nutrients and drainage.


3. Deodoriser

If you’re a keen cook, and often find yourself with various smells stuck beneath your nails from spicy foods or garlic, coffee grounds can be used as a natural deodoriser. 

Try rubbing coffee grounds through your hands and underneath your nails and rinsing with water. You should find that not only have the previous odours vanished but your skin feels soft and exfoliated too. 

If you have any other unpleasant scents lingering around in old food containers, you can try using coffee grounds to combat these. 


4. Skincare

Used coffee grounds possess rich nutrients that can act as an exfoliation tool. You can combine the coffee grounds with other elements such as brown sugar or coconut oil, to make a more pleasant exfoliator.  


5. Cleaning

Due to the abrasive texture of used coffee grounds, they can become a key component for removing stubborn layers of dirt. 

Try using them whilst scrubbing pots and pans or kitchen surfaces, to remove grime and dirt. 

Although the coffee grounds are coarse, they’re usually not so harsh as to cause damage. 


6. Deterrent

By sprinkling used coffee grounds around your garden, you can protect your plants or crops from insects. 

Coffee acts as a repellent and can keep slugs, snails and ants from disturbing you and your garden. Add some orange or other citrus peel and cats will also be deterred. 


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