8 zero-waste uses for spent coffee grounds

Jessie Stainton
Don’t throw them away! Try these sustainable hacks to recycle spent coffee grounds all around the house.
Making your coffee at home has always been the most eco-friendly and cost-effective way of enjoying your cup of Joe. But did you know that the usefulness of your coffee grounds extend far beyond that cup of delicious coffee? These eco-friendly tricks repurpose used coffee grounds into natural beauty products, non-toxic kitchen aids and even waste-free crafts.
Natural Exfoliator
The beauty world first started paying attention to coffee because of its anti-inflammatory properties. That, along with its texture, has made it a popular ingredient in DIY facial scrubs. It's also a better choice for the planet as it makes a biodegradable scrub without the harmful plastic used in most store bought products. To make a simple coffee scrub at home, mix equal amounts of used, dry coffee grounds and coconut oil to form a paste, then massage gently over the face and body and rinse thoroughly. To customize the scent just mix in a few drops of essential oil.
Hair Reviver
Natural buildup or longtime use of products can cause hair to look dull. Deep clean your locks with coffee grounds to bring back natural shine. Skip the chemical-laden clarifying shampoo as these dry your hair like crazy. This quick and easy scrub used a mix of coffee grounds, honey and olive oil to revive dull hair without drying it out.
Eliminate Odours
Similar to baking soda, coffee grounds naturally ‘eat’ odours. After brewing your morning cup, place a little bowl of the grounds at the back of your fridge to eliminate any funky smells. Coffee grounds will also extract odours from skin. After chopping garlic, rub a tablespoon of grounds on your hands and rinse to eliminate any trace of scent.
Bake With Them
A truly zero-waste option is to upcycle your coffee grounds into delicious baked goods! Nothing pairs better with a fresh cup of coffee than a caffeine-infused biscotti. Infuse cream with your leftover espresso grounds for this decadent chocolate silk pie. Most culinary endeavours call for espresso grounds, but we find an AeroPress with an ultra-fine filter is an easy way to scratch that espresso itch at home without a machine.
Show Your Cookware Some Love
Can’t seem to get your pots and pans shining without harsh scourers? Ditch the abrasive steel wool and scrub pesky stuck on food with coffee grounds instead.
Grow Mushrooms
Witness the magic of mushrooms at home by growing your own oyster mushrooms. It’s much simpler than expected and with a batch of coffee waste, a starter and the right container you can watch them grow in a matter of weeks. You need 1Kg of grounds for this, so either save up or go to a local coffee shop and ask for some of theirs. This is a great way to help a local shop reach its sustainability goal too! Watch this video for a step-by-step tutorial.
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Get Creative
Dye Your Clothes
Give pre-loved clothes a new life with natural coffee colouring. Dried coffee grounds are a sustainable alternative for your next DIY clothing project and produce a range of beautiful colours from taupe to rich chocolate brown. Learn to make your own coffee dye with his handy tutorial.
Use Them for Crafts
Looking for toxic-free crafts for kids? Create homemade fossils with a little leftover coffee grounds, flour, salt, and parchment paper. Alternately, add authenticity to a long lost treasure map with this antique staining method.
Make something delicious