You won’t believe what my kids did with coffee grounds. I’ll get to that. But first some background.
Repurposing items is a way of life for some of us and it seems we each have our own pet methods for reusing the gritty brown stuff known as coffee grounds that represent the sad leftovers of that sacrosanct morning cuppa. Mostly, I just dump the grounds on my compost pile. It’s the easy way out. And it’s not a bad way out. The grounds help aerate the compost and add nutrients.
Used coffee grounds are nitrogen rich and can give a much needed boost to acid-loving plants like roses, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, camellias, azaleas, and yes, tomatoes. Your plants will love you for it, but guess what? Ants won’t. Got an ant infestation? Just sprinkle some of that brown stuff wherever you see signs of ants and poof. They will be gone.
Ants aren’t the only creatures that hate coffee. Snails and slugs hate the stuff, too. I know. It’s hard to believe that anyone hates coffee, but yup. They do. So if you see those suckers in your garden, just toss some coffee grounds around your flowers and plants. Those nasty gastropods will find your garden a less hospitable hangout.
Does the neighbor’s cat adore lolling about your treasured flower garden? Encourage that kitty to leave by strewing coffee grounds mixed with orange peels around the plants you wish to protect. Kitty will go elsewhere to play.
Of course, you don’t have to leave your home to repurpose those coffee grounds. Got a fireplace? Hate kicking up those clouds of dust when you clean out the old ash? Sprinkle the area with damp coffee grounds before you begin. The grounds will add bulk to the ashes and make for dustless sweeping.
All these tips are great to know and an easy way to give back to the earth for the bountiful gift of coffee. But part of being green involves teaching the next generation to conserve and repurpose our earthly resources wherever and whenever possible. What better way to give over that lesson than with a fun and easy craft?
There was a time when we thought nothing of tossing out coffee grounds. Leftover coffee grounds are no longer good for brewing a steaming cup of brew. But teaching our children about the environment is about slowing down to reconsider before disposing of something for good.
In the case of coffee grounds, you’ll want to tell your children about all the fantastic ways you can use this nitrogen-rich byproduct in the garden. Explain to your child that you are grateful for coffee and this is how you give back to the earth some of what it gave to you. That’s all well and good, but not as tangible a lesson for children as we might like.
A craft, on the other hand, is a hands-on experience that is more useful for teaching children about repurposing and recycling items. In the case of coffee grounds, use them to create realistic coffee “fossils” with your children. Even a very young child can manage this craft.
Coffee Grounds Fossil Dough
Suitable from age 2 and up with some supervision
- 1 cup used coffee grounds
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup salt
- ½ cup cold coffee
- Mixing bowl
- Waxed paper
- Cookie cutters, cup, butter knife, toothpicks and other objects that can be used to make impressions in the dough
String for hanging fossils, if desired
- Mix the first four ingredients in the mixing bowl.
- Knead the dough and pat it to flatten on the waxed paper.
- Use the cup or butter knife to cut out dough circles the right size to hold the imprint of your cookie cutters.
- Press the cookie cutters into the dough to make the fossils. If you plan to hang your fossils, poke holes in the top edge.
- Allow the fossils to dry overnight or up to two days. Thread string through fossil holes to hang!
Note: Drying time can be shortened by baking the fossils for a short time.