If you’re reading this, you’re probably a die-hard Java lover. Now there’s one more reason for you to drink coffee – coffee grounds are recyclable. We’ll show you why and how to recycle used coffee grounds in innovative ways you’ve never imagined.

Why recycle used coffee grounds?

Australian environmental foundation Planet Ark conducted a feasibility study of 921 cafes across Sydney. It found that these cafes sell over a million cups of coffee yearly. 7% of the coffee grounds go to worm farms while the rest – a shocking 93% – go to landfills.

The problem with used coffee grounds is that they release methane gas when they decompose. That means unnecessary carbon dioxide. Why not put those excess grounds to good use? They can contribute to a range of environmentally-friendly products.

11 Creative Ways to Recycle Used Coffee Grounds

A. Use them in the Home

1. Coffee Logs

You don’t need to sacrifice trees to keep warm. This winter, throw a coffee log into the fire instead of using conventional wood.

For example, there are companies that collect used coffee grounds from businesses and universities and take them to recycling factories, where they become coffee logs. Moreover, there are claims that these logs burn 20% faster than conventional wood.

2. Pest Repellent

Like the apple does to the doctor, coffee keeps the garden slug away. And studies concur that it is an efficient pest repellent. According to this study, only a tiny number of garden slugs remained in the soil after researchers sprinkled coffee grounds that you have used on plants.

3. Get rid of fridge odours

If you’re short of baking soda, try putting coffee grounds in a bowl, then placing them in the fridge. They will work to eliminate nasty food smells. You can put some inside your garbage disposal to keep it from reeking too. Rub them over your hands after you chop onions, and get rid of their odour.

Coffee doesn’t just get rid of nasty smells; it gives our brainpower a boost. This study has found that coffee has a significant impact on our sensory input.

4. Coffee grounds for plants

Are coffee grounds good for plants? If you’re an avid gardener, make coffee your new best friend. The next time you have a cup of coffee, use the grounds as fertilizer.

used coffee grounds fertilizer garden

Spend some time finding out what plants like coffee grounds. Suggestions are acid-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas.

Your old coffee grounds will be useful in your garden because they are chock full of potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Coffee grounds that you have used release nitrogen which makes them a beneficial compost and this study backs this fact.



Note that you must balance them with dry compost material like newspapers or dry leaves. Using just green compost material will cause it to start to smell.

5. Stores Greenhouse Gases

Scientists have found that coffee stores carbon dioxide and methane. A study in the Physics Nanotechnology Journal reveals that the potassium in coffee captures up to 7% of its weight in methane. It also keeps carbon dioxide, and doing so is relatively inexpensive.

6. Make candles

As already mentioned, coffee improves cognition. So why not try aromatherapy?

Add candle wax remnants to a glass bowl, then place it over a saucepan filled with water. It should take about 5 minutes to melt.

Clean a paper cup and make sure that it’s dry. Put the grounds in a paper towel and wring them free of liquid. After positioning the wick in the middle of the cup, sprinkle coffee grounds at the bottom.

Then, pour the wax that you’ve melted in the saucepan over the grounds. Save some wax for the top of the candle. Let it harden for 25 minutes.



To make the second layer, sprinkle the cold wax with a teaspoon of coffee grounds. Warm the wax again and create the top of the candle.

7. Cleaning the fireplace

Although coffee alone won’t clean the furnace for you, they will lighten your load. It will be less messy too. That’s because scattering coffee over ashes gives them weight and prevents smoke from forming while you clean. Furthermore, you won’t have to wipe down every surface as you do.

B. Used Coffee Grounds for Beauty

1. As a Hair Wash

Here’s news that may raise your eyebrows a notch. Coffee works as a hair wash. Yes – put the coffee on your hair. Why? Coffee is abrasive and contains natural oils. It removes residue from dirty hair.

2. Exfoliation

Coffee grounds also exfoliate dead skin. All you have to do is mix them with water or a sweet-smelling essential oil like almond or coconut. Use it to scrub your body and remove dead skin cells.

By extension, they will make an effective facial scrub as well. Combine two teaspoons of them with another two teaspoons of cocoa powder. Add three tablespoons of heavy cream or honey to make the perfect scrub.

3. Reduces Puffy Eyes

Putting coffee underneath your eyes may prevent you from looking like a panda after a night of hard partying. According to this study, it improves a person’s cosmetic appearance because it has antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory.

So why not use caffeinated soap? It will have similar anti-inflammatory properties and will stimulate blood flow when the caffeine in it works on the skin. The improved circulation creates collagen and removes puffiness.

4. Treats Cellulite

And a boon for weight watchers everywhere – coffee treats cellulite. Combine it with warm water. Scrub for ten minutes twice weekly, and watch the cellulite disappear. This study reveals that participants who applied coffee grounds on cellulite reported a significant reduction compared with those who did not.

Used coffee grounds have more functions than you may think. The next time you drink coffee, don’t throw them away – upcycle them instead.

Michelle Liew, B.A.

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