Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Sustainable buzz: Reusing coffee grounds and tea leaves

Freshly-roasted espresso coffee beans cool in a refurbished 1918 Probat coffee bean roaster.
Freshly-roasted espresso coffee beans cool in a refurbished 1918 Probat coffee bean roaster.
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

For many of us, caffeine is a managed addiction. It could be that routine trip to a local teahouse for a particular blend, or a certain bean that makes the perfect cup every time. Regardless of your degree of coffee/tea snobbery (or lack thereof), the countless masses sifting though the stuff on a daily basis adds up to a lot of used grinds and leaves. For the more sustainability-conscious consumer, the inevitable question arises: What can I do with it? According to Treehugger, the answer is quite a lot.

The piece goes on to detail no less than 20 uses for both used coffee grounds and tea leaves, many of which of are unexpected, to say the least. While things like adding coffee grounds to soil for plants that crave acids (like roses and evergreens) might be common knowledge among gardeners, coffee grounds can also be used to deter ants and when mixed with orange peel, have the same effect on cats. They’re also good for cleaning fireplaces, as the damp grounds weigh down the ash and helps reduce dust.

Spent tea leaves have all sorts of interesting uses, like deodorizing kitchen surfaces and freshening up yoga mats. Green tea leaves are especially resourceful. Dry the used leaves and they can help reduce pet odor and serve as a powerful hand wash when dealing with pungent aromas like garlic. Loose-leaf gunpowder tea has the distinction of being a treat for dogs, as they enjoy rolling around in it. In addition to smelling nice, it adds a healthy sheen to their coat.

If there are other handy uses for coffee grounds or tea leaves/bags that the article missed, we’d like to hear about them. Please feel free to share your wisdom in the Comments section.