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Coffee grounds

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Re: Coffee grounds

Postby BillyBobBurro » Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:54 am

Tossing the grounds into the campfire seems to work pretty go so far. Granted, that is if you can have a campfire in the area you are camping at.

Which kind of leads into to a bigger issue. If you are in an area that does not allow fires due to altitude then most likeily there is not much soil to support composting. The grounds would we either bone dry or frozen solid. Desiccating and packing out is the obvious choice. But if you are in a lower elevation area and there is actually soil around then natural decomposition could actually happen. Are coffee ground that much different then broken up pine needles, leaves, deer/bear droppings and wood?

This kind of ties into the whole "human waste" discussion. Not everyone is camping in the heavily visited and delicate Whitney zone. What works or is needed in one area does not hold true everywhere else.



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Re: Coffee grounds

Postby sparky » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:01 pm

No it is not OK to dump just anything that is biodegradable.

Go get you a bottle of biodegradable solvent like limonene and dump it on a patch of wildflowers and see what happens.

I realize this isnt what the thread was about, I just want to reiterate it is not ok to just dump whatever you want as long as it is "biodegradable".

Coffee grounds in reality isn't a big deal at all, but it isn't good to put it out there on the internet that certain things are OK to leave in the mountains. Foolish people will run with that and who knows what will happen next.
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Re: Coffee grounds

Postby sparky » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:05 pm

BTW, does HST have a neighborhood cleanup day? I found a camp (a few years old) out on the end of San Joaquin Ridge that someone left (probably because it was wet). It is biodegrading/composting, but it needs to come out. Any interest?


I mentioned this last year or the year before after finding a bunch of garbage at the lakes above convict lake (i dont remember which one)

I still would be all in on something like this. Just a Sat dayhike or maybe twice a year?
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Re: Coffee grounds

Postby Rockchucker » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:18 pm

Vaca Russ wrote:I agree with Balzaccom and Artrock 23. Pack in VIA. If the taste bothers you, pack in a little sugar.

I do NOT agree with Rockchucker:

Rockchucker wrote:Or don't even bring coffee!


No coffee! C'mon man...be serious. :)

-Russ

I don't drink coffee so it's easy for me to say! :p
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Re: Coffee grounds

Postby John Dittli » Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:07 pm

longri wrote:[quote=I wasn't asking about the legality of it. I wanted to know if was harmful to the environment and, if so, in what way exactly. Also, does any harm depend on the type of terrain, elevation, vegetation, soil, precipitation, and level of human visitation?


It is doubtful anyone can answer that question definitively. I doubt there has been a study on the effect of coffee grounds on various mountain environments. We can speculate that anything "organic" will decompose faster at lower elevations, but what's the effect? At higher elevations there may be less initial impact as there is less biodiversity. There will be more impact where there are more people dumping coffee grounds.

You can be assured that anything you leave (and everything you do), has some sort of impact, large or small, usually of unknown consequences, good or bad. To that end, a "purist" will follow the letter of the law and minimize what they leave. In that way, they don't have to question whether, let's say "coffee grounds", are going to be eaten by a critter habituating them to the location or cause other harm, dug up if buried (causing additional impacts), change the ph of the soil no matter how minutely, etc, etc.

Interestingly, remove the human experience factor as you suggest, and just focus on "environmental impact", you are better off leaving the non-biodegradable products like hard plastic and metal. It's less likely to attract animals and takes a long time to breakdown so there is little change to the environment other than some off gassing and perhaps a little blocking of some solar radiation.

The question can't be answered, the individual Wilderness user has to decide for themselves how much impact they are willing to leave regardless of law.

Good luck and happy trails!

John
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Re: Coffee grounds

Postby Jimr » Tue Jun 18, 2013 5:29 pm

If you can pack it in, you can pack it out.

The extra weight will be more than offset by the reduction of food into poop.
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Re: Coffee grounds

Postby sparky » Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Jimr wrote:
The extra weight will be more than offset by the reduction of food into poop.


Jimr wins!
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Re: Coffee grounds

Postby 87TT » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:33 am

What if you eat the grounds ands then it turns to poop? :D
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Re: Coffee grounds

Postby longri » Fri Jun 21, 2013 10:49 am

Jimr wrote:If you can pack it in, you can pack it out.

Jim, that phrase would look at home on a bumper sticker but it misses the point here on a number of levels.

First, it is suggests that weight doesn't matter, that we could carry the same pack load start to finish without any change in our routine.

Second, if the ethic applies to spent coffee grounds it should equally apply to "spent food". Unlike coffee grounds which greatly increase in weight when used, an average human bowel movement weighs no more than a typical daily ration of backpacking food. In addition, the impact of human feces on the wilderness is arguably greater than that of coffee grounds. If you adhere to your own mantra and carry out all of your poop then I'm impressed, and I commend you for being part of a rare subset of backcountry visitors.

But more to the point, the phrase is a punt on the original question. The question isn't "if" you can pack it out, it's "is it necessary to protect the environment?". John Ditti provided what I thought was the best answer to this: basically, we don't know, and so it is better to err on the conservative side and minimize impact whenever it isn't too difficult to do so. I agree with this, but I'm disappointed that a more precise answer isn't available.

On a personal level, when I take real coffee I want it freshly ground. And I don't want to drink freshly ground artisan coffee in a plastic or metal cup. So my real coffee kit only goes on shorter, easier trips where carrying out the weight of spent grounds is inconsequential.

But since I know many people spread or bury their grounds I've always wondered if the impact was significant or negligible.
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Re: Coffee grounds

Postby Jimr » Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:53 pm

The perspective I'm coming from is: If one adhere to the philosophy of "leave no trace", then the issue becomes moot. If it's packed in, it should be packed out. It just gets that simple. BTW, if you read the current poop thinking thread, I do remove my solid waste in wag bags. I can't count how many times I've moved a rock in the high country just to find smeared poop.

Weight does not matter at all. If one desires to bring coffee grounds, they should be willing to remove them regardless of the weight. Same with uneaten food. I've hauled several baggies of cooked rice out of the back country along with the rest of my trash because it does not belong there. It certainly holds more times its weight in water then spent coffee grounds, but I brought it in and I feel the responsibility to remove it. Organic or not, it is now my trash and does not belong in the wilderness.

I'm glad you haul yours out. I wish those you know who don't, did.

Is it necessary to protect the environment? I think it is safe to say that with all organic, compostable material, it is a matter of quantity. Where that line is drawn is the unknown. We tend to find those lines after they are crossed.


Sorry for the :soapbox:
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Re: Coffee grounds

Postby longri » Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:03 pm

Leave no trace is an ideal that none of us ever achieve. Each visit to the wilderness results in an impact. The act of driving there is an impact in itself. Do you bicycle to the Sierra? That sort of Göran Kropp approach would impress me as much as your willingness to carry your feces for days at a time.

"Weight does not matter at all." You can't be serious! This is only true if you are preternaturally strong like Norman Clyde or are simply strolling through the backcountry. For most people it matters a lot. For some walkers it's everything. There have been many trips I simply could not have contemplated doing were it not for the diminishing weight of my pack.

Cooked versus uncooked rice weight has roughly the same water absorption as you get in coffee grounds. Maybe you like yours soupy? Rice soup is actually a very nice Thai dish.

I'm glad you see it as a line to be drawn and not black and white as your bumper sticker slogan could lead one to think.
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Re: Coffee grounds

Postby rlown » Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:09 pm

k. lets not go down this path over coffee grounds.

LNT is the goal. Minimize impact is probably better. Most here are mindful of what they do out there.
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