Multipurpose Coffee Grounds

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Mother Earth News Conscientious Coffees and Teas are triple-certified fair-trade, organic and shade grown.

Every day, people enjoy roughly 1.4 billion cups of coffee. That’s a lot of coffee. More importantly, all those grounds add up in landfills across the world. But coffee grounds offer more then just a fantastic and addictive drink; use the grounds around your home, garden and even as a beauty product.

Here are a few tips for using your old coffee grounds. (A few of these tips can also be applied to tea bags and loose-leaf tea, noted with “T.”)


• The coarse texture of coffee grounds is perfect for scrubbing difficult-to-clean dishes. Pack the grounds into a square sized cloth, gather the cloth’s ends and secure with a rubber band. (T)

• After chopping garlic or other fragrant foods, rub grounds on your hands to get rid of the odor.

• Grounds can repel refrigerator odors. Use old nylons or an old sock as a small satchel filled with grounds and keep in your refrigerator or freezer.

• Diluted coffee grounds act as a natural flea rinse.


• When garden pests dine in your garden, add coffee grounds to keep them away from beloved plants.

• Coffee grounds release nitrogen into the soil and act like a fertilizer.

• Add grounds to your compost pile to restore the nitrogen level. (T)  

• Also, worms eat coffee grounds and help your compost by moving the pile around.


• Coffee grounds act as a natural exfoliate. Add an egg white with ¼ cup of grounds for a facial mask.

If you don’t drink coffee, visit your local coffee store and ask for their grounds. Most shops have bins of prepackaged grounds for free.

Greening your coffee experience is a three-part process: First, drink organic, Fair Trade, shade-grown coffee as it benefits coffee farmers in developing countries. Second, cut down on waste by bringing your own cup or mug. An estimated 16 billion disposable coffee cups were thrown away in 2006. Third, don’t let your coffee grounds go to waste; they are more useful then you might think.  

More about coffee and repurposing

• Find out how Starbucks is working to make all of its coffee cups recyclable.

• Learn how to tell if your local coffee shop is really selling fair-trade coffee.

• Save money and stay chic with these recessionista style tips on how to reuse and repurpose items around your home.

• Trim your budget with these green craft projects.

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