Earth Chat

Coffee Grounds: The Next Journey

In recent weeks, many of us have already felt the hot weather before the dog days of summer. The Hong Kong Observatory has issued ‘Very Hot Weather Warnings’ consecutively for more than one week. It is not hard to imagine how hot and suffocating the imminent summer holidays will be, forcing everyone to stay at home rather than hanging out.

Hot and humid weather provides conditions for mosquitoes and bacteria to breed. According toArea Gravidtrap Index for Aedes albopictus (AGI) from the Food and Environment Hygiene Department (FEHD), the increasing temperature has led to an upward trend in many district indexes. In particular, AGI in Tseung Kwan O North has reached 31.4% (Level 3, i.e. 20% to less than 40%), which indicates that infestation of the mosquito exceeds one-fifth of the area surveyed, becoming the most severe region in Hong Kong in April. On the other hand, some people worry that misusing large quantities of substandard mosquito repellent may be harmful to the human body. There is no doubt that climate change is approaching at a pace that no one has expected before. Can we use natural and harmless materials to alleviate the climate crisis while reducing the mosquitoes? It turns out that a cup of coffee can save the planet!

Friends of the Earth (HK) have always stressed the importance of environmental protection education. Holding environmental protection lectures at schools, colleges and universities regularly to share information about green concepts, green concerns and green lifestyles. We believe it is our job to raise public awareness of environmental protection and to encourage people to spare no effort to take part in environmental protection. In light of that, a group of young people fromFriends of the Earth (HK) earlier took the initiative to visit a secondary school in Cheung Chau and hold a workshop called ‘Reusing Coffee Grounds’. The workshop aimed to share with the students about how to use coffee grounds. Through some basic treatment and drying, we can use coffee grounds to make natural and harmless summer gifts, including mosquito coils, moisture-absorbing bags, soaps and enzyme cleaners, to replace traditional mosquito repellents. Furthermore, food waste treatment methods and related knowledge were also introduced to students.

Wong, who is a F.4 student and has lived in Cheung Chau since childhood, said that he suffers from the hot heather and mosquito infestation during the summer all the time. But he never thought that the coffee grounds he thought were useless before have so many uses. F.5 student Chan also mentioned, ”If coffee grounds can be made into so many eco-friendly items, I believe it can also reduce the house cleaning cost. Not to mention my family and I are DIY lovers, coffee grounds will likely become a new hobby in our family.”

Presently, Hong Kong produces nearly 12 tons of coffee grounds every day. Some international commercial enterprises can even produce about 100 kilograms of coffee grounds within a week. If these food waste are not used properly, they will eventually become rubbish. Please ask yourself a question: how can I make good use of the coffee grounds after I brew my coffee next time?

Friends of the Earth (HK) hope this workshop not only serve as a platform to let students know about the hand-made items from coffee grounds, but most importantly to let everyone recognize the food waste problem is not far from us. Coffee grounds are the not only thing we can reduce and recycle, there are many other food waste in our daily lives we can tackle as well.

Hong Kong has a serious food waste problem.
‘Hong Kong Waste Data and Statistics 2019’ told us that, in 2019, 30% of municipal solid waste disposed of in landfills is food waste, which was around 1.21 million tonnes or the weight equivalent of 80,000 double-deck 3-axle buses.

The Environment Bureaus report stated that waste accounted for 7.4% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in Hong Kong in 2018. It is noteworthy that the food waste from landfills not only produces methane but increases the carbon emission of the entire food supply chain. In short, methane is one of the main factors propelling climate change. If you are walking on the street and feel the weather is hot, it is time to take better climate action for the Earth. Take the initiative to reduce waste and food waste! Take the critical first step and you can also take part in improving the climate problem!

Coffee Grounds Upcycling Methods

Mosquito Coil:
1. Prepare coffee grounds, natural sticky powders and water
2. Prepare a bowl containing coffee grounds
3. Pour sticky powders and water into the bowl and mix them (proportion depends on the size of the
mosquito coil)
4. Stir until it feels sticky to your hands
5. Mould into your desired shape
6. Place it near the window to dry for a week
7. Please make sure you will use it in an airy place with safe conditions (i.e. accompanied by adults)

Moisture-Absorbing Bags:
1.Dry coffee grounds
2.Prepare a tea bag and pour coffee grounds into it, then it is done!

1.Prepare coffee grounds, soap, heat-resistant container, palette knife, and mould
2. Soak the soap in hot water until it is completed melted
3.Add some coffee grounds and use the knife to stir it
4.Put it into the mould and wait until it cools down and solidify

Enzyme cleaners:
1.Prepare fresh fruit peel, sugar, water and container
2.Mix them in a ratio of 3:1:10 and pour them into the container to wait for fermentation for 3 months
3.Open the container once a month to release excess gas (to prevent explosion from over-
4.It is ready after 3 months

Functions: cleaning floor, washing dishes, doing laundries, etc.

Note: It is recommended to use coffee grounds brewed from coffee beans, because instant coffee powder will melt when heated, making it difficult to collect coffee grounds.

For enquiries about school environmental protection education lecture activities, please contact Mr Woody Wong, Community Engagement Team Officer,Friends of the Earth (HK)( You are also welcome to press here for more event footages.

Interested Topic:
Climate Change
Waste - Food & Apparel
Eco City

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