Thirty-one percent of waste that Americans placed in landfills in 2008 consisted of paper products, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Composting paper products like coffee filters that you would otherwise put in your trash can is an easy way to reduce your household waste and produce a rich soil amendment for your potted plants and lawn. In fact, according to a Composting Council Fact Sheet, adding paper products such as coffee filters to your compost helps minimize odors and provides a bulking agent (materials that promote oxygen flow in the compost).
Prepare your coffee filters for composting. When you remove your used coffee filters from your coffee maker, shred them carefully into strips. Don’t bother trying to remove the coffee grounds from your filters; according to the July 2008 issue of “Science Daily,” coffee grounds contain approximately 2 percent nitrogen so they provide an excellent source of nitrogen for your compost pile. Keep a household compost bucket or bowl handy on your counter or below your kitchen sink so you have a convenient location to collect your used coffee filters.
Collect your coffee filters with other organic materials. To produce compost more quickly, collect a range of nitrogen-rich materials (such as cow manure, fresh lawn clippings and vegetable peels) and carbon-rich materials (such as straw, hay, dead leaves and shredded newspaper) in addition to your coffee filters and coffee grounds.
Layer your coffee filters with the other organic materials in a compost pile. Your compost pile needs to be at least 3 cubic feet (3 feet by 3 feet by 3-feet) to maintain the high temperatures required to produce finished compost. Layer 3 to 5 inches of carbon-rich materials (including your shredded coffee filters) on bare topsoil; top this layer of carbon materials with an equally-sized layer of nitrogen-rich materials. Mist the layers of organic materials with your garden hose and top with a 1- to 2-inch layer of topsoil; topsoil contains the decomposing microorganisms that create compost. Repeat this layering process until your pile is as tall as it is wide.
Monitor the moisture level in your compost pile. Make sure the compost is approximately as moist as a wrung-out sponge; if it’s too wet, add additional carbon materials, such as more shredded coffee filters, to absorb the excess moisture.
Rotate your compost pile regularly after waiting five to six weeks for the composting process to begin. Use a manure fork to mix the levels once every one to two weeks. Your coffee filters and the other organic materials should decompose into finished compost within approximately six to eight months.