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Are Coffee Filters Compostable? (Plus 7 Alternative Uses for Them)

Are Coffee Filters Compostable? (Plus 7 Alternative Uses for Them)

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Between my wife and I, we go through a lot of coffee at our house. With that being said, we go through plenty of coffee filters as well.

For as long as we’ve been drinking coffee, we’ve been tossing our filters directly into our trash bin, but is that really the right thing to do? It never dawned on us that there might be other options.

Since spent coffee grounds are great for the compost, it would be nice if we could toss the filters in as well. Before doing so, let’s find out if this is a good idea.

Can Coffee Filters Be Composted?

Yes, paper coffee filters are absolutely compostable. Notice that I said “paper” filters. If your filters are made of a different material, or if they’re lined in some kind of coating, you’ll want to reconsider.

Keep in mind that coffee filters are often treated with bleach and other chemicals, so if you’re trying to keep your compost strictly organic, you’ll want to steer clear of these or look for unbleached filters.

However, these chemicals are typically of very minuscule amounts, so they won’t be an issue for most people’s compost piles.

Adding coffee filters are not only okay to do, but they are beneficial for your compost as well. They are considered to be a brown material (rich in carbon), which you need as part of a healthy carbon to nitrogen balance.

As a bonus, toss your coffee grounds in as well, as they add green, nitrogen-rich matter to your compost.

Aside from adding brown matter to your compost, coffee filters are also known to help control odor and increase the oxygen levels, leading to a healthier and easier to maintain compost pile.

How to Compost Coffee Filters

Coffee filters are perfectly fine to compost. However, if you don’t follow the proper procedures, it’ll probably take a lot longer than you’d like.

Here are a few simple tips to use when composting coffee filters:

1 – Compost the Grounds as Well

As mentioned earlier, coffee grounds are also compostable and rich in nitrogen. When composting coffee filters, it only makes sense to compost the grounds as well.

2 – Break Them Down

Coffee filters are known to take a while to decompose on their own. To speed up the process, break them down as much as possible.

If you shred them and mix them into your compost, you will get much faster results than simply throwing them on top intact.

3 – Don’t Add Too Much at Once

As with adding anything to your compost, don’t add too much at once. The microorganisms in your compost pile need a healthy balance of nutrients to do their job.

Adding too much of any one material, including coffee filters, can upset this balance.

4 – Keep Them Moist

Coffee grounds tend to dry out pretty quickly. When this happens, they don’t break down as easily.

To keep your used coffee filters from drying out, mix them thoroughly with the other items in your compost pile. Definitely do not just throw them on the top of the pile.

Alternative Uses for Used Coffee Filters

If composting isn’t a feasible option for you, don’t worry. A common misconception is that coffee filters are one and done. In reality, there are plenty of uses for used coffee filters.

1 – Reuse Them

Most people don’t realize it, but many coffee filters can be reused several times before they need to be discarded. Simply dump the coffee grounds (ideally onto your compost pile), dry the filter, then put it back into your coffee machine for the next pot.

2 – Line Plant Pots

Another use for used coffee filters is to line you plant pots. Lining your pots with filters is a cheap way to keep the soil from spilling out.

3 – Strain Cooking Oil

Coffee filters can also be used to strain your cooking oil, allowing it to be reused. Simply place your filter over the opening of a jar of oil, then tip it over and strain it into another container.

The new container will contain a cleaner version of the old oil, which can then be reused.

4 – Control the Growth of Weeds

If you’re looking for a low-cost solution to help control the growth of weeds near your small plants, it might make sense to try a coffee filter. Simply place filters around the base of your plants, which will slow down the growth of weeds while allowing moisture to still seep through.

5 – Provide Protection

If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to protect your valuables, try coffee filters. They provide a non-abrasive layer of protection, which can be used between or around small items, such as jewelry.

6 – Clean Glass Surfaces

Coffee filters are also great for cleaning glass surfaces. They won’t leave any scratches, and nearly as important, they won’t leave any lint or residue behind.

7 – Retain Moisture in the Microwave

If you regularly use a paper towel to cover your food in the microwave, why not try a coffee filter instead? A coffee filter will provide the same basic benefit of preventing moisture from escaping, but since you already have used coffee filters, you don’t have to waste a paper towel.

These are just some of the many ways that coffee filters can be reused. For even more unique uses for used coffee filters, simply do a quick online search.

Final Thoughts

If you go through a box of coffee filters as quickly as we do, you’re probably happy and relieved to know that you can add them to your compost pile. However, even if you don’t compost, you have plenty of other options when it comes to disposing of your used filters.

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