Maria drinks coffee in the garden

My husband and I love each other, but we’re poles apart: He craves for coffee, but I love Tea. How will we make this Zero Waste journey work? Read on and find out how we do Zero Waste for Coffee and Tea Lovers. When it comes to hot beverages, hubby is a diehard coffee drinker, while I wouldn’t go a day without a cup of my favorite masala chai.


This post explores how coffee and tea lovers can reuse leftover coffee grounds and tea leaves dregs in sustainable ways that feed into our Zero Waste lifestyle.

In my earlier post on ‘My Zero Waste Kitchen,’ I talked about the switch hubby was making from coffee in sachets to ground coffee beans. The switch was to avoid the plastic wrappers used for instant coffee sachets, as we work towards a plastic-free kitchen. Take a look at that post here.

Little did I know what a Huge blessing this was going to be in our home. I was so excited to find out that coffee grounds have so many uses around the house. I even found some amazing beauty treatments using coffee grounds. Take a look at this list of 10 Uses of Leftover Coffee Grounds.

10 Uses of Leftover Coffee Grounds

(No.5 is my Favorite!)

1. Garden Fertilizer

Coffee grounds contain several vital nutrients that are vital for healthy plant growth. These nutrients include nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and chromium.

Pots of roses hanging on a fence

Also, coffee grounds may help to decrease the concentrations of heavy metals in soil, making it healthier for plants. Roses, Rhododendrons, Camellias, Azaleas, and Hydrangeas are some of the acid-loving plants that would thrive on fertilizer of coffee grounds.

Did you know that you can change the color of your Hydrangea blooms? Follow this link to find out how to do this using coffee grounds. It also has several other smart gardening ideas using leftover coffee grounds.

2. Insect and Pest Repellent

Coffee grounds contain caffeine and diterpenes, two chemicals that are highly toxic to insects and bugs. Coffee grounds placed in bowls and set around seating areas repel mosquitoes, fruit flies, and beetles. I found this works so well. So much so that the fruit flies that used to hang around my fruit basket in the kitchen have disappeared.

That’s not all. When sprinkled around flowers and vegetables, coffee grounds create a barrier that snails and slugs will not crawl over. I was so excited to find out about this.

Flower pots sprinkled with coffee leftovers

I also keep a small kitchen garden with fresh herbs, spinach, and spring onions. Snails are a nightmare, especially in the rainy season. So this has been the best discovery for me to save my garden greens.

You could even make an aerial spray for your flowers and veggies. Soak the coffee grounds in a bucket of water overnight to extract more of the good stuff from the grounds. Sieve off the grounds the next morning, pour the coffee water into a spray bottle and use it over your veggies in the garden and flowers. This spray has antimicrobial properties, and also works as a repellent to most bugs, including caterpillars.

3. Getting Rid of Fleas from Pets

Rubbing coffee grounds through your pet’s fur after shampooing may act as a natural deterrent to fleas. Simply rinse off and allow your pet to dry. (Note: Coffee grounds may be toxic to dogs if consumed. You want to make sure they don’t munch on any grounds left lying around. It’s just for external use in pets).

4. Odor Neutralizer

The nitrogen in coffee grounds is particularly useful in absorbing and eliminating odors in the house, car, your gym bag, and even in wardrobes. You could tie some dried coffee grounds in a pair of old panty-hose or muslin bags.

After tying both ends, set them in a corner, or put them in a bowl in the room you want to be deodorized. You could even use them to scrub down your hands to remove strong smells after handling garlic or fish.

5. Exfoliating Skin Scrub and Cellulite Remover

Mixing coffee grounds in coconut oil, massage oil, sour cream, or simply a little water works as an excellent exfoliating agent. This natural, exfoliating scrub can be used on your face and body and gives beautifully smooth skin.

DIY Body Scrub of Coffee grounds mixed with Sour Cream

Image: DIY Body Scrub of Coffee grounds mixed with Sour Cream

The fantastic benefits of a coffee body scrub are in the magic created by the caffeine in the grounds. Caffeine works to break down cellulite in the skin and increase blood flow to the affected areas.

Now that’s good news to Every lady who’s worried about that unsightly orange-peel skin on her thighs and tushy.

6. Flavor-full Tenderizer for Meat

Coffee contains natural acids and enzymes that make it useful as a meat tenderizer. When used this way, they also work in enhancing the flavor in cooking.

Coffee grounds can be used as a rub onto the meat before cooking, or as a re-brewed marinade which the meat can sit in. Allow the meat to sit for about 2 hours with the rub (up to 24 hours in the marinade) so that the tenderizing enzymes take effect.

7. Hair Growth Stimulant

Exfoliating your scalp with wet coffee grounds not only removes product build-up and dead skin cells but also stimulates hair growth. The particles in the coffee grounds are coarse enough to break up residues on your scalp, without damaging your hair or causing irritation.

Research has shown that when caffeine is applied to the skin, it accelerates hair growth and blood flow to the skin. This is new to me. When the baby stops nursing, I’m going to try adding this to my hair routine for six months to see what happens. Watch this space! Let me know if you’ve tried this and if it worked for you. Or didn’t work – I want to know that too!

8. Growing Mushrooms

Mushrooms are notoriously challenging to grow because they require particular soil conditions and environment to grow in. They can’t grow on regular garden soil, because they need a sterile underlying substance (called a substrate).

Mushrooms growing out of a pot with coffee grounds leftovers

Coffee grounds are already sterile from the brewing process, plus they contain the best nutrients for mushroom growth. Want to know more about mushroom growing using coffee grounds?

Check out this video on how the savvy guys at Back to the Roots in Oakland, US grow mushrooms profitably here. Want to try it out for yourself? Check out this simple step-by-step guide from Five Gallon Ideas on growing your oyster mushrooms at home.

9. Treatment of Eye-bags and Under-Eye Circles

The skin around the eyes tends to be quite delicate, with little fatty tissue. For this reason, the first signs of aging tend to appear around our eyes.

Several studies show that skincare products that contain antioxidants and caffeine are useful in combating the signs of aging, puffiness, dark circles, and bags around the eyes.

To get the same effect from coffee grounds, mix them with some coconut oil or a little water, apply thinly under your eyes, and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Rinse off and pat your skin dry. This treatment can be done daily or every few days, depending on the severity of your eye-bags and under-eye circles.

10. Cleaning Scrub for Utensils and Surfaces

The abrasive properties of coffee grounds make it an excellent scouring agent for cook-tops, grills, sinks, and pans.

A woman cleaning and scrubbing her face with coffee grounds

The rider here is that coffee grounds should not be used on porous materials. This is because the natural dye from the coffee will seep into anything porous and stain it.

(P.S. – Want to know how to dye fabric using coffee grounds? Take a look at these easy-to-follow tips.)

Coffee lovers out there, drink up, and make sure to reuse those coffee grounds. They’re great for your body and great for your home & garden too. Curious to know more genius hacks on reusing coffee grounds? Click here to see what else you can do with them.

Sustainable Coffee Makers?

Since hubby is the only coffee-drinker, we opted to buy a coffee maker that has a smaller capacity, to save on energy. On really early mornings, he puts his coffee in a thermal mug to drink at the office. So we were looking for a model that came with the travel mug as an extra feature.

In line with our Zero Waste Cooking transition, we didn’t want to buy paper filters. So we were on the look-out for a machine with an in-built filter, something that could be washed out easily. We also wanted a brand with the following features:

  • with a good service record,
  • that would be long-lasting
  • easy to keep clean and maintain
  • whose spares were readily available.

After looking at a couple of models online, we decided on this nifty Black + Decker DCM18 Single Brew Personal Coffeemaker with Travel Mug from Amazon.

Black + Decker DCM18 Single Brew Personal Coffeemaker with Travel Mug

What do you use to brew your coffee? And why did you choose your particular model? Drop us a line in the comments section and let us know.

7 Uses of Leftover Tea Leaves

I’m an addict, and it’s all my mother’s fault!

Tea love runs in my family, especially my mom’s side. We grew up knowing that anytime is tea time, so I’m an unashamed tea-lover!

Tea pot and tea cup on an outdoor table

Sometimes, I like herbal teas like mint and lemongrass. I love a cup of mint tea after dinner, sweetened with a teaspoon of honey.

Other times, I love brewing milky chai, then I add in spices such as masala, grated ginger, and cinnamon. The thing with tea is that all the nutritional goodness brews out in the first boil.

Although I use the same tea leaves to brew a second cup, I didn’t know there was much else that could be done with the dregs. To be honest, it’s always been straight to the bin for the leftovers.

With a little research, I found some pretty handy, zero waste tips that leftover tea leaves can be reused to do.

1. Cleaning Hardwood Floors:

Black tea contains plenty of tannins, which are great for shining hardwood floors. Simply use the leftover tea leaves to brew an extra pot of tea. Let the tea cool completely and use it to mop your hardwood floors. Sustainable and chemical-free cleaning is easily achieved in this way.

2. Bring a shine to Mirrors and Windows Surfaces:

Dip a wash-cloth in re-brewed tea and wipe down your mirror or window. Remember to buff the surfaces afterward using a soft cloth for a subtle shiny finish. Re-brewed tea leaves act as a natural window-cleaner, keeping your windows and mirrors shiny and smudge-free for longer.

3. Neutralizing Bad Odors:

Tea leaves tend to be highly absorbent and have to be kept in a sealed container, away from other odor-releasing substances. If you keep them close to foods like coffee and onions, you’re in trouble. This is because they pick up the smells released around them fast. This quality of tea leaves works beautifully when you need bad odors cleared.

After sun-drying, some used tea leaves put a handful in a muslin cloth and tie up the ends. Place a pack in the corner of your refrigerator, shoe cabinet, or in any room that you need to be deodorized.

4. Toilet Stain Removal:

To remove stains inside your toilet bowl, pour some used green tea leaves down the bowl, and allow them to sit for about an hour. Flush the toilet after, and you will notice a difference in the stained bowl.

5. Garden Compost:

Used tea leaves when mixed into mulch or compost, form a rich fertilizer for flowers. Tea leaves contain tannic acid and other nutrients, which get released into the soil as the tea leaves decompose. The tannic acid in the tea leaves aids in the decomposition of different items in the compost.

Roses especially love the tannins found in black tea leaves and flourish when fertilized with them. If you have other plants that do well in acidic soil, composted leftover tea leaves will do wonders for them.

6. Beauty Treatments:

Used green tea leaves make excellent zero waste beauty treatments for the skin. Treat eye bags with a cold compress of tea leaves.

A woman using a teabag to treat eye bags

Just chill the tea bags in the fridge for about 10 minutes and place them over your eyes as you lie down. Your eye-bags will go down noticeably within a short while. That’s not all. Are you frustrated by acne break-outs? Make a facial wash from re-brewed tea leaves, and wash your face with it daily.
Need a quick mouthwash? Rinse your mouth with liquid from re-brewed tea leaves. It acts as a natural mouth rinse and will freshen your breath while killing the bacteria that cause bad breath.

7. Insect Bites, Stings, and Sunburn:

A cold compress made from re-brewed green tea leaves is soothing on the burning sensation of sunburn, insect bites, bee stings. The compress of tea leaves relieves the redness, itchiness and reduces the swelling from bites and stings.

The way it works for bites and stings is that the tea leaves draw out the toxins from your skin. This helps relieve the pain and reduces any irritation or swelling. It may even help your skin heal faster from sunburn.

There are so many more nifty uses for leftover tea leaves. The tips range from skincare to home care hacks, as well as garden care, so I’ve just skimmed the surface about them. Want to read more handy hacks? Check them out here.

Reusing Leftover Coffee and Tea Promotes a Zero Waste Lifestyle

Leftover tea leaves and coffee grounds are so versatile. There are so many sustainable ways to reuse them in and around the house, before composting them. If you loved these tips, you might want to check out some more nifty ones on Zero Waste for Kitchen Leftovers. From stewing pineapple skins to brewing ginger peels – you will love all the smart things you could do with kitchen leftovers.

The best thing about these hacks is that they are easy, chemical-free solutions to a large variety of problems. No matter what life problem you have, there are solutions for health, beauty, household, hygiene, gardening, and even culinary issues.

It has been an eye-opening season for me. I hope you have learned one or two Zero Waste Tips that you can implement at home.

And whatever works for you, please don’t keep it to yourself; share it with someone else. Tell a friend to tell a friend.

Let’s spread the message that Sustainable Living is doable, and it works. It’s the little things we do each day that make a world of difference.



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