16/04/2024 11:08 AM
From Soon Li Wei

Whenever medical doctor, Dr Janira Kumari brews a pot of coffee, she makes a conscious effort to keep the used coffee grounds to make a body scrub.

Otherwise, she will get some of the coffee grounds from the nearest coffee shops or restaurants to keep them out of landfills. 

"Many people don't know or realise that the coffee ground can be reused to make our own luscious scrub for beauty.

"It is also kinder to the environment and helps to stretch our money further," said the co-founder of Zero Waste Earth Store during a demonstration speech on 'Gaya Hidup Hijau' (Green Lifestyle) organised by Yayasan Hijau Malaysia, recently.  

Dr Janira was one of the speakers at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability (NRES) event on March 29, aimed at teaching Malaysians different ways to reduce waste and practice green lifestyle in order to conserve the environment.  

Based on data from the International Coffee Organisation (ICO), Malaysians are drinking more coffee and loving it – so much so that Malaysia is ranked third among 58 countries in Asia Pacific, with the biggest spike in coffee consumption in 2021.

According to the data, Malaysians' coffee consumption has grown by 73 per cent from 344,783 bags of coffee beans in 2020, finishing up to 597,064 in 2021. This means Malaysia consumed an extra 252,281 bags of coffee beans, with each bag weighing 60kg.

Malaysia is ranked third among 58 countries in Asia Pacific, with the biggest spike in coffee consumption in 2021.

Dr Janira said landfill disposal of coffee grounds is a common practice, but it has several negative environmental consequences, primarily related to the production of methane gas, which is a powerful greenhouse gas (GHG).

"Reducing methane emissions is essential for mitigating climate change and limiting its impact on global temperatures, but it is just one piece of the complex climate puzzle. 

"Effective strategies to address methane are crucial alongside efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other GHGs," she said. 




She said used coffee grounds can be repurposed as a natural and sustainable exfoliating scrub for the skin, with several potential benefits when used in a scrub. 

"Coffee grounds are coarse and abrasive, which makes them effective at physically exfoliating the skin, help remove dead skin cells and leave our skin feeling smoother and looking brighter.

"They contain caffeine as a natural vasoconstrictor which can temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite by tightening the skin, as well as potentially reduce puffiness in the skin, making them a popular choice for eyelid scrubs.

Homemade Coffee Scrub which also available in Zero Waste Earth Store (Pix credit to Zero Waste Earth Store)

"Since coffee is also rich in antioxidants, it can help combat the damaging effects of free radicals on the skin, contribute to a more youthful and healthy complexion," she said.

She added that the coffee scent can be invigorating and refreshing, providing a spa-like experience during skincare routine.

"Every morning after waking up, you can smell your coffee scrub to refresh yourself before you consume coffee as your daily routine," she said. 




During her 30-minute session, Dr Janira shared simple steps on how to repurpose used coffee grounds into body scrub.

"You can start by collecting used coffee grounds from your daily coffee routine, either from the nearest coffee shops or at home and make sure these grounds are completely cooled and dried. 

"Then, you can accumulate them over a few days, or use fresh grounds each time you make coffee.

"Dried coffee grounds work best for scrubs, as they are easier to handle and less messy than wet or soggy grounds, it is best to fry or dry the coffee grounds using microwave before putting them into a clean mixing bowl or jar. 

"The wet coffee grounds can be used immediately, but can't be kept for longer period because they can get mouldy especially after mixing with other ingredients," she said. 

Zero Wast Earth Stores Co-founder, Dr Janira Kumari (Pix credit to - Yayasan Hijau Malaysia)

To make a coffee scrub, all you have to do is to prepare two portions of dried coffee grounds and mix with other three ingredients, namely carrier oil, emollients and essential oil, said Dr Janira. 

Among the carrier oils are sweet almond oil, coconut oil, olive oil and jojoba oil, which can provide moisture, help distribute the scrub evenly, and contribute to the overall skincare benefits. 

"When choosing carrier oil for your coffee scrub, it is important to consider your skin type and any specific preferences you may have. As a doctor, I highly recommend coconut oil because it contains antibacterial properties and helps moisturise our skin and besides, it is useful for dry and sensitive skin," she shared.

Dr Janira added that emollients can be a valuable addition to coffee scrub, especially in enhancing its   moisturising properties and make it more suitable for dry or sensitive skin. 

"Emollients are substances that help to soften and hydrate the skin by forming a protective barrier to prevent moisture loss. When added to a coffee scrub, they can help offset the potential drying effect of the exfoliating coffee grounds and provide a smoother, creamier texture," she said. 

According to Dr Janira, essential oils can be a wonderful addition to your coffee scrub, not only for their pleasing scents but also for the potential skincare benefits they offer.

"It is best not to put more than two types of essential oil in the mixture of coffee scrubs, as they might create reactions and can be toxic for the skin if mixed with more than three. 

"Usually, the highly recommended scent for essential oil is lavender oil - known for its calming and soothing properties; tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties which are good for acne-prone or oily skin, and lemon oil contains alpha hydroxy acids, which can exfoliate and brighten the skin. 

"However, it can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so use it with caution and apply sunscreen afterwards," she said. 




She said that while making homemade coffee scrubs, make sure to determine the scent intensity because some essential oils are stronger in scent than others, hence fewer drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil should be added into the scrub.  

"Essential oils are highly concentrated and can be irritating to the skin if used in their pure form. Always dilute essential oils in carrier oil before adding them to your coffee scrub.

"Typically, a few drops of essential oil to a few tablespoons of carrier oil are a suitable ratio. Mixing the essential oil with the carrier oil ensures that it is evenly distributed throughout the scrub.

"Mix the essential oil-carrier oil blend with your coffee grounds and any other ingredients you've chosen for your coffee scrub and make sure it is evenly distributed, so that you don't end up with concentrated drops of essential oil in one area of your scrub," she said. 

Dr Janira said she often advised her patients to perform a patch test on a small area of their skin to prevent the essential oil from causing any irritation or allergic reactions before applying the coffee scrub to their face or body.

"Gently massage your face or body by using a small amount of the coffee scrub, don't rub it too hard as it might cause irritation on your face or body. 

"Coffee grounds are naturally abrasive and serve as an effective physical exfoliant. However, if you'd like to enhance the exfoliating properties of your coffee scrub or tailor it to specific skincare needs, you can consider adding other exfoliants.

"Three most common exfoliants that can be    incorporated into a coffee scrub are oatmeal, sugar and baking soda," said Dr Janira, who is well-versed in anti-ageing skin care. 




To keep the coffee scrub fresh and long-lasting, Dr Janira said always check for signs of spoilage because over time, the scrub may develop an off smell, change in colour, or visible mould growth.

"If you have added essential oils to your scrub, some oils have natural preservative properties, for example tea tree oil and rosemary oil that can help extend the shelf life of the scrub.

"It is a good idea to label the container with the date you made the scrub, so you can keep track of its freshness," she said. 

She said, as a general guideline, most DIY (Do-It-Yourself) coffee scrubs should be used within two to four weeks to ensure their freshness and effectiveness.

"If you ever notice any changes in colour, smell, or texture, it is best to err on the side of caution and discard the scrub to avoid any potential skin issues," she said.




Meanwhile, Yayasan Hijau Malaysia Chief Executive Officer, Dr Muiz Murad said for the past 10 years, the agency has been actively promoting and educating youths on the importance of green technology and its benefits towards sustaining depleting resources and protecting the environment through strategically structured programme and activities. 

(Yayasan Hijau Malaysia is an agency under NRES, established on March 2, 2014)

Yayasan Hijau Malaysia Chief Executive Officer, Dr Muiz Murad (Pix credit to- Yayasan Hijau Malaysia)

"Imparting knowledge at the grassroots level is essential to cultivate mindset change and therefore implant an ethical and responsible lifestyle amongst Malaysians through climate education. 

"However, on Jan 12, NRES has launched 'Kempen Gaya Hidup Hijau' (Green Lifestyle Campaign) to turn education into climate action, focus on encouraging the public to adopt and adapt green lifestyle and behaviour change in their daily life. 

"For now, the campaign is running for 12 months, and is focused on the community, individuals and households in providing them with knowledge and skills on green and sustainability on life," he said. 

He said the campaign is divided into two levels, that is at the ministry and community levels.

"Every month, we invite programme partners such as non-profit organisations and corporations to give talks and demonstrations to educate people on green lifestyles through products and services.

"Through the programme, we focus on four areas: sustainable water, energy, waste management, and eco-products.

"Over the past two months, we have been running this programme, and it has received good feedback from participants and the community. They have had the chance to learn how to compost their food waste, segregate household waste, recycle, and reduce the usage of single-use plastic products,” he said.

“To all Malaysians who are interested in participating in the free programmes organised for the public, they can contact us directly at Yayasan Hijau Malaysia,” he added.


Edited by Salbiah Said

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