Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cheap Tricks 2: Save More Trees!

I was going about my morning ritual of making coffee, when I realized here was another example of saving money, trees and the environment.  It has been a long and winding road (Beatles!) from using tons of non-eco-friendly white coffee filters to using none:

First, I had a drip coffee maker and would buy large quantities of those white cone-shaped paper coffee filters.  The reason they are white is because they are bleached.  Once I learned how bad bleach is for the environment, I started buying the brown, unbleached paper coffee filters.  My next step in my eco-evolution was realizing lots of trees were cut down to produce paper coffee filters which I was just throwing away after each use.  So I did a little research and discovered reusable cloth coffee filters made from hemp, such as

Hemp Coffee Filter

This worked great for a while with the only problem being it was sometimes difficult to get the fine coffee grounds cleaned out of the hemp filter.  So I did a little more research and found reusable cone-shaped coffee filters made from plastic and fine wire mesh to use instead.

Wire Mesh Filter

The only issue I had with the wire filter is those tiny coffee grinds would somehow make it through the wire mesh and into my coffee cup – yuck!  Then I realized I could put the wire mesh filter inside the hemp filter … the hemp filter kept all the teeny tiny coffee grinds from going into my coffee and the wire mesh filter made dumping out and composting the coffee grounds easy peasy.  (Yes, coffee grinds make awesome compost.)

I continued using this setup for five years (with the hemp filter still going strong!).  Then a few years ago I was introduced to a French press and – voilá – I was smitten!  In a French press, the coffee grinds steep in hot water for 4 to 5 minutes (rather than running fairly quickly through a drip maker), so I can use less than ½ the coffee and still have a nice strong cup of java.

French Press

So not only am I saving money because I am no longer constantly buying paper coffee filters, I also save money because I use less coffee.  And the other fantastically frugal part of this is that I now can use my wire mesh filter for making my daily cups of green tea.  I buy bulk loose leaf organic green tea (the same delicious tea I use in my pet food) and pour boiling water into my Pyrex measuring cup with the tea leaves, cover and let steep for 3 to 4 minutes.  Once it’s done steeping, I take my wire mesh filter, placed inside a single cup filter (it’s cone-shaped and made of solid material with a handle and only has little holes on the bottom – see picture below), set both over my teacup and pour the tea into the whole contraption.  All the tea leaves are saved in the wire mesh filter (which I can reuse for my next cup of tea – more frugality - yay!) and the tea pours through the holes in the bottom of the single cup filter into my teacup.

Single Cup Filter

So again, we’re saving money and trees by buying loose leaf tea in bulk and not using tea bags.  If you would rather use tea bags instead of a filter, you can purchase cloth tea bags made from cotton muslin that have drawstring closures.  (Hint:  These same cloth tea bags work GREAT for filling and refilling with organic catnip and letting your cat bat around, drool on, roll on, etc.!)

Cotton Muslin Tea Bags

Who knew saving the environment could be so much fun and save so much money?!


  1. Just don't use the catnip teabag later for your tea. Bad, bad idea.

    1. Seems like I'm always getting cat hair in my tea anyway ... not to mention the little drinks they take out of my cup when I'm not looking ... sneaky little furballs. :)