tea bag recyclingI drink gallons of coffee and tea — not all in one day, mind you, but over the course of a month I amass quite a collection of filters and tea bags. Below are some of the ways to reuse the coffee filters, grounds and tea bags.

Reusing coffee grounds and filters

Reuse your coffee grounds to feed your plants. Plants such as rosebushes, azaleas, rhododendrons, evergreen and camellias that prefer acidic soils will benefit from a layer of coffee grounds. I save my used grounds in a pail and use them to mulch my house plants and outdoor plants, including the patch of raspberries I am cultivating in my back yard. I also reuse coffee grounds when planting my garden. Work used coffee grounds into your garden soil before planting seeds. After your plants start to emerge, work in coffee grounds near the plants. The grounds repel snails and slugs and add nutrients to the soil. I continue working the grounds in throughout the growing season, especially around cabbage and other vegetables that are prone to attracting slugs and snails. I have used old coffee grounds to deodorize my freezer. Dry the grounds on a baking sheet then put them in a bowl and place them in the freezer. Reuse your coffee filter to make compost. They can make up some of the brown materials needed to make nutrient-rich compost for your yard, garden and plants. Make sure you purchase coffee filters that are unbleached — it is healthier for you and for the environment. For some great tips about composting, check out The Do’s and Don’ts of Composting. Another option is to avoid wasting a coffee filter all together by using a permanent coffee filter or a French press coffeemaker, which has a built-in filter. There was a permanent filter included in the box when I purchased my coffeemaker. It saves me money and reduces my environmental impact. You can purchase one for yourself at many local retailers or online.

Reusing tea bags

After drinking a cup of tea, I have found uses for the used tea bag before it ends up in my compost bin. First, I usually reuse it for another cup of tea. Then, while it’s still moist, I use it to clean my bathroom mirrors. After my daughters finish brushing their teeth in the morning, the mirrors look like a Jackson Pollock masterpiece, so I wash them with the used tea bag then wipe the mirrors clean with a dry cloth. The tea’s tannic acid gently breaks down the grime on mirrors without the need for chemicals. I have also heard about several other ways to reuse tea bags. For example, you can apply used tea bags to soothe sunburn pain. Put used tea bags on your sunburn and let them sit for about 15 minutes. The tea acts like an astringent to help reduce the pain. Finally, if you do not have a compost bin you could bury your tea bag in your garden or your houseplants to add nutrients to the soil. The tea bag will decompose; just make sure you remove any staples.