Going green with coffee beans

Jessie Hellmann

For a month now, the Starbucks on campus has turned a new leaf to help USI become a green campus.

Sophomore Nick Mathis, Student Government Association (SGA) Sustainability committee chair, said he thought about using Starbucks coffee grounds as fertilizer.

“Coffee is good for plants and rich in nutrients,” Mathis said. “It made sense to repurpose it for something good on campus.”

“Nick came to us and had several good ideas,” said Don Fleming, ground and athletic field supervisor. “This one we could start incorporating right away.”

The grounds will not be put into the flower beds yet, Fleming said.

“We only want 25 percent of coffee grounds mixed in with the compost, so we may have to have another compost,” Fleming said.

In the spring, the coffee ground compost mix will be tilled in the flower beds, Fleming said.

“There is a benefit (to using the coffee ground),” Fleming said. “It does attract earthworms, and earthworms are great for flower beds.”

“I was a little leery at first,” Fleming said. “One of the biggest rumors had years ago was that coffee grounds caused the soil to be acidic. Some plants like it, but a lot of them don’t. Boiling or cooking coffee makes grounds not be acidic.”

Starbucks supervisor Patty Brokaw said she thinks it is a great idea to use the coffee grounds as fertilizer.

“It takes care of having to just throw it (coffee grounds) away in trash bags,” Brokaw said. “It also helps grounds by not having to buy as much fertilizer.”

She said every day they throw the coffee grounds in a five gallon bucket. When it becomes full, they take it outside on the back-loading dock for grounds to pick up.

When Starbucks is busier, it is hard to break habits and remember to throw it in the bucket rather than a trash can, Brokaw said.

“The bucket usually takes a week to fill up,” Brokaw said. “Then we take it to the dock.”

“I can’t imagine us stopping,” Fleming said. “We’re going to be safe, until we find out that it not safe, we will continue to use it.”