Posted On March 29, 2018 By In Top Stories With 405 Views

Ethical Grounds: Local Program Goes Full Circle

by Emily Lowan & Maiya MacMaster – 

Over the years, coffee culture has been on the rise in Victoria. Many consumers have begun to consider the ethics of coffee sourcing, but the way coffee grounds are disposed of after use is often overlooked. Community Earth Project (NGO)’s initiative is looking to curb the environmental impact of Victoria’s coffee habit.

The Coffee Ground Renewal Program was launched by co-directors Emily Lowan and Maiya MacMaster in September 2017. This is a full-circle program where the coffee grounds produced by local cafés are delivered to farms where they can be used to create nitrogen-rich compost rather than entering the landfill. Through this project, the pair’s vision is to help local youth and business owners work together to improve sustainable business practice in Victoria, and turn waste into a resource.

In the downtown area, they are providing Mason Street City Farm with coffee grounds from Café Fantastico, Wildfire Bakery and Serious Coffee. In the Saanich region, they collect the coffee grounds from Claremont Secondary, Red Barn Market and Adrienne’s Tea Garden, and deliver them to Little Mountain Farm and Haliburton Organic Community Farm. Several of the farms they work with are run single-handedly, and the owners lack the time to build relationships with cafés and pick up the coffee grounds themselves every week. Café owners have reported that this support network has also opened their eyes to the importance and urgency of environmental action, and have since reduced their contributions to the landfill. Several of these farms then grow produce in their soil which is sold back to the coffee shops and restaurants the coffee grounds came from, creating a closed loop cycle. To support this project, they are working to generate a youth-powered volunteer team from high schools around the city. Their goal is to expand this program city-wide, and they plan to use the power of collective youth action to make this a reality.

Emily and Maiya are also striving to connect schools to this network, and working to get elementary students involved in their coffee ground renewal program. They will be doing this by delivering coffee grounds to Cordova Bay Elementary’s garden and educating school garden club members on environmental preservation and permaculture.

Additionally, they will be running youth workshops a few times a year. Their first ran on March 3 and was focused on the topics of food waste reduction and sustainable living. Several inspiring guest speakers were featured, as well as interactive group activities such as loose tea making and seed planting for Claremont’s outdoor classroom and garden. A dinner with ingredients donated by Thrifty Foods Broadmead and Royal Oak Country Grocer was served, and all leftovers were taken home by guests to avoid food waste. Their goal for these workshops is to inspire the youth of their community and integrate sustainable thinking into youth culture.

They are also planning to extend the boundaries of what they do, and are looking at initiating a scholarship fund to grant a high school senior an electric car. Emily and Maiya’s overarching goal is to be the helping hand of their community by leading people towards a sustainable life in practical and simple ways.

If you are interested in volunteering with or financially supporting their projects, or for more information, email

Photo by Nunn Other Photography.



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