Jody Victor: A Jolt of Environmentalism in a Cup of Coffee?

Laura Holden, writer for the Oxford Student, illuminates coffee lovers of the environmental impact the grounds of their favorite beverage have on the environment and the very easy solution to the issue.

She writes:

“The organic waste of coffee drinking is an environmental headache. It may keep us awake in lectures, but coffee waste ends up in landfills, contributing to greenhouse gases and further increasing the wasteful output of human activities.”

Holden also notes that in the U.K alone, coffee drinkers consume 55 million cups of coffee per day. And of those many cups, the grounds to create them end up only 18-20% used.

Holden describes one student run coffee grounds program:

“The Coffee Run is a project run by students volunteering with the Oxford Hub and with collaboration from the Oxford Circular Collective. Its aim is to redistribute coffee waste from cafés to allotments, using the waste as fertilizer and compost and creating a circular economy, where waste production of one good (coffee) is reused in the production of another good (fruit and veg).

It works by combining two fads of the day: coffee addiction and a Deliveroo style delivery system. On Coffee Run Fridays, volunteers will pick up the coffee grounds at a coffee shop, and then subsequently deliver them to an allotment over the weekend on their infamous Oxford bikes. “

While many of us do purchase to-go coffee, where we have no control over what happens to the grounds, many of us still brew coffee at home and can initiate a similar program, on the micro level, in our own daily lives.

Holden tells her readers that the coffee grounds have phosphorus and potassium, even a little nitrogen. “Acid-loving plants” will like coffee grounds best as and are even know as a slug and snail deterrent. It seems coffee grounds from the average household could easily be recycled into the environment through any lawn, flower garden or planted patch of mulch.

Holden even cites a recent Leeds Beckett University study which concluded that coffee grounds “represent an under-utilised high nutrient material with potential to be exploited.”

What will you do with your grounds?