Starbucks Grounds For Your Garden: Rooted in a Mission to Help Local Communities Grow

Coffee for your plants? In an effort to reduce waste, Starbucks offers free coffee grounds for gardeners with local program.

Dubbed as the unofficial start of summer, the May long weekend is around the corner, and Canadians are dusting off their gardening tools to start planting outdoors. Starbucks is here to help gardeners show some extra love to their plants and flowers this season, while also helping the environment

Starbucks serves freshly brewed coffee to millions of customers each day, but many may not know they can also pick up a free bag of used coffee grounds to enrich their gardens and compost with its in-store program, Grounds For Your Garden. Starbucks started its Grounds For Your Garden program in 1995, which is offered on a first-come, first-served basis in participating stores for free to customers. Even the packaging has been reused – baristas scoop spent coffee grounds into the empty bags originally used to ship espresso beans to stores.  

For over 25 years, customers have taken advantage of Grounds For Your Garden at their local Starbucks. Deepak has been picking up bags of coffee grounds from his local store in Ontario, for his community garden to nourish and prepare his soil for growing fresh produce. His garden, filled with vegetable seeds and fresh greens, was first created to share homegrown food with a few neighbours. Now, he makes his harvest available to help others in the community who face challenges accessing fresh food due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions.

“After volunteering with similar community programs, we were inspired to grow our own garden to help those nearby in need,” said Deepak. “Especially in times like we are in now, it’s important for us to share the resources we have available. Thanks to the program at our local Starbucks, we can help provide access to fresh food in our community, while also re-using coffee grounds for a better purpose.”

On top of keeping pests away, Deepak shared that the coffee grounds, in combination with his kitchen composter, have helped nourish the soil to produce better greens, including Spinach and Kale, that were most recently harvested for his community members. 

Ashley Bonar is the store manager at the Starbucks Deepak regularly visits. Ashley looks forwards to seeing customers take advantage of her location’s Grounds For Your Garden program.

“This is a win-win program for both our partners, customers and the planet. We love seeing the beautiful gardens Deepak and all our customers in the community who use this program grow. Plus, our partners feel so much pride and joy packing the bags of coffee grounds to be used in the community, while also reducing our waste,” said Ashley Bonar, Starbucks Store Manager and Co-Chair of Starbucks Canada Partners for Sustainability.

Grounds For Your Garden has evolved to become an important part of Starbucks effort to reduce the environmental impact of its stores. Although composting may not be commercially available in all municipalities, the program serves as another way to reuse coffee grounds to prevent one of the company’s largest waste contributor (by volume and weight) going to landfills. This is just one of the programs that supports the company’s bold, multi-decade aspiration to cut carbon, water and waste each by 50 percent by 2030 and give back to the planet by becoming resource positive in the future.

Treat your garden and check with your Barista to see if used coffee grounds are available at your local Starbucks

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Starbucks journey to sustainable dairy