Have you ever wondered what happens to the coffee grounds after you make or buy your morning cup of coffee? Like most of us, the thought may have never occurred to you. If you have, then I would bet you are a gardener!
So much care is given to producing sustainable and organic coffee from seed to cup. We talk about how green coffee is, but yet, the majority of it ends up in landfills, despite it being highly compostable. To put that into perspective, most of the six tons of coffee grounds produced by Downtown Chicago daily heads for a landfill (and compare that to the global consumption of 8.4 million tons annually). Worse yet, coffee grounds and other organic waste that decompose in landfills create methane gas, a green house gas twenty-five times worse than Co2.
So what can we do for such a preventable problem?
Worms Can Help
Through a process through called vermitechnology (the use of earthworms), we can convert coffee grounds into compost to help make Chicago a greener city. We do it with our friends the earthworms, especially red worms. They do it quickly, organically, and locally.
Not Just Waste Elimination but Feeding the Soil
Eliminating coffee grounds and other waste from the landfills to lower green house gases is not enough to be green. We take all this material and feed it to our red worms and European night crawlers after processing it to give them a varied and healthy diet. Composting coffee grounds is good not only for the worms but also for the soil. It allows for healthy worm castings after the worms have broken down the coffee grounds.
What earthworms produce is called compost, which makes up part of what we call soil. They create a very rich material called vermicastings (aka worm poop), and it is a effective soil amendment. Worm castings supply organic matter, thus creating a better plant root environment by
- improving soil structure and porosity,
- increasing the moisture holding capacity of light soils,
- reducing bulk density of heavy soils,
- reducing water loss and nutrient leaching, and
- improving moisture retention.
Simply put, worm castings are great stuff -- both for the worms and for the soil!