Vegetable scraps are obviously compostable, but some beverage waste is also perfect for composting with red worms. Composting worms speed up the process, breaking down inedibles and left-overs into a dark, rich organic fertilizer. This is called vermicomposting. Red worms are the best for vermicomposting. People who compost may overlook their compostable beverage waste. However, certain types of left-over beverage-making material is safe for the worm composting bin.
How to Compost Solid Beverage Waste
Preparing popular drinks results in left-over organic materials:
Coffee Grounds: Half of the US population drinks at least 1 cup of coffee or equivalent each day. Where do all those coffee grounds go? Instead of filling up landfills or burning up in an incinerator, they could be composted. Worms love them! Coffee filters are also fine. Use a spoon to scoop out K-cups. However, coffee grounds are acidic. Therefore, rinse some eggshells and let them dry. Crush them up. Mix some crushed eggshells with cooled coffee grounds, then add them to your vermicomposting bin. Eggshells reduce acidity and provide “grit” for the worms’ digestion. No, caffeine will not make them jittery!
Note: Loose coffee grounds can get stuck to the inside of the compost collection pail. If this bothers you, keep them in the coffee filter and use a separate container that is easy to clean.
Loose Tea: Perfect! Add cooled loose tea to the worm bin.
Tea Bags: Yes! The tea bags will start to break down in the worm bin, and the worms will finish off the contents. The string and paper tab might not break down as quickly. You can rip them off before saving a tea bag. Or just toss them in.
Juicing Scraps: A truly healthy beverage, fresh fruit and vegetable juice results in mountains of scraps. Peelings, tops, stems, and pulp are perfect worm food; however, acidic scraps from citrus and pineapple should be avoided.
Citrus Rinds: Making orange juice or lemonade by squeezing the fruit? Unfortunately, the leftover citrus rinds are too acidic for the worms. Acidity can make the bin smell bad, and the worms might get sick. Throw these in the trash.
There are several problems with composting left-over beverages.
Bad Beverages: Alcohol, citrus, acidic drinks, milk of any kind, and anything containing fat should never go into a worm bin. Tip them down the sink.
Too Wet: Unless your worm bin needs moisture, adding too much liquid harms a worm bin. The worm bin may begin to smell bad. Since worms breathe through their skin, they can suffocate in a wet bin. The bedding should have the consistency of a wrung-out sponge, and it should be crumbly.
If the bin is too dry, play it safe and use plain water. Use a hose, sprinkler, or chemical-free watering can. Chlorinated tap water can be used as-is, or you can let it sit out for a day so the chlorine evaporates. Find out more about regulating the bin’s moisture using blankets and lids.
The Beverage Business
Composting left-overs from coffee shops is great for the environment, and it reduces trash. If your community garden or school composting project needs more material to compost, talk to a local coffee shop. The business may be more than happy to save coffee grounds, tea bags, and muffins crumbs for you. Certain types of unbleached napkins and even utensils are compostable. The local business can let their customers know they are contributing to a community project. Everybody wins! Restaurants, smoothie shops, and fresh juice vendors might also help out.
Waste from the most popular hot beverages–coffee and tea–are also popular with composting worms. Be sure to add crushed eggshells to the coffee grounds before composting them. Even grounds from K-cups can be salvaged easily. Scraps from juicing are excellent, but citrus rinds are not. Most liquids, except for water, are unsuitable for vermicomposting. Coffee shops are a superb source of worm food. Turn your caffeine vice into a virtue by composting solid beverage waste.