Saturday, June 17, 2006

Small things add up: Coffee grounds for the garden.

For the past 3 years, I've been collecting coffee grounds from work, home, and occasionally from Starbucks. Sometimes I add them directly to the soil (as in Winter or Spring when I'm digging around in the garden), sometimes to the worm bin, and sometimes to the compost pile.

Some simple calculations:
I buy a 5 pound bag of coffee beans about once monthly (for my use only). 5 pounds X 12 months = 60 pounds (dry weight) per year.

At work, I collect the grounds from my small section of the office, also for the compost pile or garden. That's about 1/2 pound daily (wet) for 4 days per week, or 2 pounds per day. So, about 100 pounds per year.

COffee grounds make for good compost or soil amendment. They are similar in soil nutritional value to manures, but without the salt and antibiotics that go into animal agriculture.

There are about 298 million people in the United States. Per capita coffee consumption is 4.4 kg (9.68 pounds) per year. 298 million X 9.68 pounds / 2000#/ton = 1.4 million tons per year.

So, from that little cup of coffee per person, a couple of cups daily, it starts to add up.

I'm sure that there are better calculations, from more accurate data out there, but the bottom line is, it's still "a lot". Collecting coffee grounds for the garden is good for the soil, and good for the environment.

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