The world drinks a lot of coffee — over a billion pounds a year. After all those cups of coffee, espresso, and lattes have been poured, there's a veritable mountain of grounds left behind. The vast majority of it gets tossed into the waste bin and hauled off to the dump.

Shane Genziuk of Victoria, Australia, thinks we could be doing something better with all those grounds, so he started a local initiative called Ground for Ground which works with coffee shops to make their grounds available for people to use in their gardens and compost heaps.

Genziuk has collected around 1,874 pounds of coffee grounds since March of this year from coffee shops near his home, using it in his compost bin, around fruit trees, in raised garden beds, and as gifts to families and neighbors to use on their lawns and gardens.

On his personal blog, Genziuk shares a few of the ways coffee grounds are good to have around the garden:

• Coffee is a great source of nitrogen, a much needed plant fertilizer. The nitrogen in coffee is a kind that needs to break down in the soil before being released so it ends up feeding a slow and steady drip of fertilizer to your plants.

• The nitrogen in coffee nicely balances the addition of "brown" materials (leaves, straw and cardboard) in a compost heap.

• In addition to nitrogen, coffee grounds also contain magnesium and copper in just the right amounts to be beneficial to your plants.

• Coffee grounds act as an effective repellent against slugs, snails, ants and cats.

• Earth worms LOVE coffee grounds.

Starbucks started a similar program in 1995 called Grounds for Your Garden that offers customers free five-pound bags of used grounds to take home.

To learn more about Ground to Ground, you can visit the website and/or contact Shane Genziuk via e-mail at shanegenziuk@gmail.com.

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