Did you know that the average person produces about 4 and a half pounds of trash a day? That’s over 1,500 pounds of trash in a year. Combine that with commercial and manufacturing trash, and it is no wonder why our landfills are filling up at a record rate. The disappointing fact is that the US recycles only approximately 35% of its waste. Compared to Europe, we are way behind.
There are ways to turn things around and the ideas of green-minded thinkers are endless. So, what does this mean for coffee? Well, coffee is the US’s number one beverage choice, and after those wonderful beans are spent, they need to go somewhere. More often than not, even though they are compostable they still wind up landfills.
So, what can we do with left over coffee grounds?
Grow Gourmet Mushrooms
Coffee grounds are the perfect growing medium for mushrooms. Beginning as BTTR Ventures in Berkeley CA, now Back to the Roots, started their business using recycled coffee grounds from Peet’s Coffee & Tea to make at-home mushrooms growing kits. This diverts more than 7,000 pounds of coffee grounds a week from landfills.
Turn Coffee into Clothes
Yes, you can really turn coffee grounds into clothes. Jason Chen, general manager of Singtex Industries in Taiwan, worked and researched with a team of scientists on how to integrate coffee into fabric. Sounds crazy, right? Well, four years of hard work later and S.Cafe yarn was born. S.Cafe yarn is made from combining nano-sized structures of waste coffee grounds and yarn. From there it’s turned into many styles of knitted, woven fabrics and soft-shell fabrics.
Make Roads Smoother
Professor Arul Arulrajah and his colleagues at Swinburne University of Technology collected used coffee grounds at local cafés and wound up creating a building material that can be used for roads. Just think about how much coffee waste could be diverted if this technique was implemented on a large scale.
UK Ecopreneur Arthur Kay, the inventor of Bio-Bean, discovered that coffee grounds make an excellent carbon neutral fuel. This concept was born from both knowing that coffee grounds have a higher caloric value than wood, but also from his obsession with the fate of spent coffee grounds: the landfill. Kay developed a way to compress the grounds into pellets which are used in industrial boilers to heat factories, offices, and even airports. Way to go Kay!
Everything we do on a day to day basis has an impact on the environment. Aside from the large scale diversions mentioned above there are things you can do at an individual level to help keep coffee grounds from landfills. Whether you using them for beauty hacks or simply adding it to your home compost, every little bit helps.