10 Ingenious Ways to Reuse K-Cups

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Keurig and other single-serving coffee makers are made for convenience. Instead of filling a coffee filter and dirtying a pot every time you need a caffeine fix, the machines brews coffee from a pod directly into your mug. They’re also wildly bad for the environment—billions of K-Cups are sold each year, most of which aren’t recycled, and K-Cup inventor John Sylvan has said he regrets his invention. But there’s no need to break up with your Keurig machine if you’ve already invested in one. In honor of Earth Day on April 22, here are some ways to reuse K-Cup pods instead of throwing them in the trash.

1. Use K-Cups as molds for bath bombs.

Making DIY bath bombs is easy—especially if you have some empty Keurig pods (with the filter removed) at home. Once you have a recipe for a luxurious bath bomb, add the ingredients to the empty plastic container and allow them to set overnight. Use a knife to carefully peel the K-Cup away from your soap mixture and then commence bath-time.

2. Refill K-Cups with coffee.

Yes—even though most people dispose of them after one use, K-Cups are refillable. After removing the pods from the Keurig machine, you can clean them and refill them with coffee grounds. To keep the grounds from spilling into your drink, you’ll need to cover them with something. You can buy reusable lids here.

3. Use K-Cups as seed starters.


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Instead of harming the environment in a landfill, K-Cups can be used to grow new life. This spring, use your old K-Cups as mini planters: Fill them with potting soil and two to three seeds (peas, cilantro, and basil are all great options); cover those with more soil, then cover the container with with a lid until the seeds start to sprout. When the plant starts to get big, move it to a full-sized planter and save your eco-friendly seed starters for next spring. And don't forget to use the old coffee grounds in your home garden or compost pile!

4. Fill them with paint.

Planning a painting project? Swap your palette for coffee pods. The small, plastic containers are the ideal size for holding as much paint as you need to create your masterpiece; they're also a great way to help kids paint with minimal mess (and without mixing the colors). Just remember to use a hot glue gun or tape to seal the hole in the bottom! And don’t forget to wash the cups out and store them with the rest of your art supplies once you’ve finished painting.

5. Store small-portioned leftovers.

Many delicious leftovers have been tossed out because there wasn’t enough worth saving. K-Cups are perfect for storing the food items that are too small for even your tiniest plastic storage containers. Use them to save the last tablespoon of gravy you didn’t have with your dinner, or the pinch of chopped herbs that didn’t make it onto your plate. If you don’t already have a reusable K-Cup lid, cover it with tin foil or plastic wrap to keep your food fresh.

6. Make the perfect circle stamp.

Another way to use K-Cups to create art is by repurposing them into paint stamps. Just dip the rim of the K-Cup into the paint of your choice and use it to create perfect circles on a canvas, a wall, or even a t-shirt. If you’d rather draw out your circles with a pencil, you can use the pod as a tracer.

7. Hang them on your wall.

Person painting a K-Cup
Penn State, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

With a little ingenuity, K-Cups that would otherwise be headed for the trash can make for quirky decorations. Brighten them up with paint, glitter, construction paper, or all of the above and thread them through a string to make a festive garland. If you have a set of string lights at home, you can poke holes through the centers of your K-Cups (or use the whole that's already there from the machine) and use them as tiny light covers. Cutting patterns into the plastic makes for a dramatic effect when you turn on the lights.

8. Organize small items.

The small items you own that easily get lost are a great fit for K-Cups. Gather up your loose buttons, batteries, bobby pins, and whatever else you have rolling around the bottom of your drawers and assign them their own recycled coffee pod. You’ll thank yourself the next time you’re trying to find one of these miscellaneous objects in a hurry.

9. Freeze stuff in them.

There’s a number of frozen items you can make in a K-Cup. Fill it with juice and a popsicle stick to make a K-cup popsicle, or fill it with coffee to make an ice coffee-sicle. Add butter and chopped herbs to the pod and keep perfectly-portioned herb butter ready in your freezer for whenever you need it. You can even fill K-Cups with plain water to create unusual, super-sized ice cubes for a punch bowl or lemonade pitcher.

10. Sort change.

The loose change at the bottom of your purse could also use organizing. Figure out exactly how much money your coins are worth by divvying them out into separate K-Cups. You can do this with the coins you’ve already accumulated, or keep a few pods out at all times and deposit your change from the day into them when you come home.

BONUS: Buy compostable K-Cups

Not everyone has time to make arts and crafts project out of their leftover coffee pods. If you know you’ll be tossing away your K-Cups after your coffee is brewed, a buy compostable one instead. Unlike plastic pods, these products biodegrade rather than pollute the environment for centuries, and they’re just as effective as the pods you’re used to. Another option is to buy a reusable K-Cups filter, which you can find here.

6 Tasty Facts About Scrapple

Kate Hopkins, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Kate Hopkins, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Love it or hate it, scrapple is a way of life—especially if you grew up in Pennsylvania or another Mid-Atlantic state like New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, or Virginia. And this (typically) pork-filled pudding isn’t going anywhere. While its popularity in America dates back more than 150 years, the dish itself is believed to have originated in pre-Roman times. In celebration of National Scrapple Day, here’s everything you ever—or never—wanted to know about the dish.

1. Scrapple is typically made of pig parts. Lots and lots of pig parts.

Though every scrapple manufacturer has its own particular recipe, it all boils down to the same basic process—literally: boiling up a bunch of pig scraps (yes, the parts you don’t want to know are in there) to create a stock which is then mixed with cornmeal, flour, and a handful of spices to create a slurry. Once the consistency is right, chopped pig parts are added in and the mixture is turned into a loaf and baked.

As the dish has gained popularity, chefs have put their own unique spins on it, adding in different meats and spices to play with the flavor. New York City’s Ivan Ramen even cooked it up waffle-style.

2. People were eating scrapple long before it made its way to America.

People often think that the word scrapple derives from scraps, and it’s easy to understand why. But it’s actually an Americanized derivation of panhaskröppel, a German word meaning "slice of rabbit." Much like its modern-day counterpart, skröppel—which dates back to pre-Roman times—was a dish that was designed to make use of every part of its protein (in this case, a rabbit). It was brought to America in the 17th and 18th centuries by German colonists who settled in the Philadelphia area.

In 1863, the first mass-produced version of scrapple arrived via Habbersett, which is still making the product today. They haven’t tweaked the recipe much in the past 150-plus years, though they do offer a beef version as well.

3. If your scrapple is gray, you're a-ok.

A dull gray isn’t normally the most appetizing color you’d want in a meat product, but that’s the color a proper piece of scrapple should be. (It is typically pork bits, after all.)

4. Scrapple can be topped with all kinds of goodies.

Though there’s no rule that says you can’t enjoy a delicious piece of scrapple at any time of day, it’s considered a breakfast meat. As such, it’s often served with (or over) eggs but can be topped with all sorts of condiments; while some people stick with ketchup or jelly, others go wild with applesauce, mustard, maple syrup, and honey to make the most of the sweet-and-salty flavor combo. There’s also nothing wrong with being a scrapple purist and eating it as is.

5. Dogfish Head made a scrapple beer.

The master brewers at Delaware’s Dogfish Head have never been afraid to get experimental with their flavors. In 2014, they created a Beer for Breakfast Stout that was brewed with Rapa pork scrapple. A representative for the scrapple brand called the collaboration a "unique proposition." Indeed.

6. Delaware holds an annual scrapple festival each October.

Speaking of Delaware: It’s also home to the country’s oldest—and largest—annual scrapple festival. Originating in 1992, the Apple Scrapple Festival in Bridgeville, Delaware is a yearly celebration of all things pig parts, which includes events like a ladies skillet toss and a scrapple chunkin’ contest. More than 25,000 attendees make the trek annually.

11 Honorable Ways You Can Help Veterans

BasSlabbers/iStock via Getty Images
BasSlabbers/iStock via Getty Images

This Veterans Day, make a difference in the lives of former military members. Just thanking a veteran can go a long way, but an act of kindness means even more. Here are 11 ways you can show vets that you appreciate the sacrifices they made.

1. Pick up the tab for a veteran's coffee or meal.

elderly man at a parade with a sign thanking veterans
Wingedwolf/iStock via Getty Images

The next time you see a veteran in a restaurant or standing in line for coffee, pick up the tab. You can do so anonymously if you would prefer, but even a quick "thank you for your service" would mean a lot to the veteran. You don't have to limit yourself to dinner or a latte—you could pay for a tank of gas, a prescription, or a cart of groceries.

2. Drive a veteran to a doctor's appointment.

military man in wheelchair talking to doctor
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Many veterans, especially those who are infirm or disabled, have trouble making it to their doctor appointments. If you have a driver’s license, you can volunteer for the Department of Veterans Affairs (DAV) Transportation Network, a service provided by all 170 VA medical facilities. To help, contact the hospital service coordinator [PDF] at your local VA Hospital.

3. Train a service dog to help veterans.

military man hugging a dog
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Service dogs aid veterans with mobile disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorder, helping them rediscover physical and emotional independence. It takes approximately two years and $33,000 to properly train one service dog, so donations and training volunteers are critical. Even if you aren't equipped to train a dog, some organizations need "weekend puppy raisers," which help service dogs learn how to socialize, play, and interact with different types of people.

There are several organizations that provide this service for veterans, including Patriot PAWS and Puppy Jake.

4. Replace one light bulb in your home with a green one.

A green light bulb
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The Greenlight a Vet project is a simple way to remind yourself and others about the sacrifices veterans have made for our country, and to show your appreciation to them. Simply purchase a green bulb and place it somewhere in your home—a porch lamp is ideal since it's most visible to others. Over 9 million people across the nation have logged their green lights into the project's nationwide map so far.

5. Help sponsor an honor flight to veterans memorials.

A group of veterans visit the Vietnam memorial in Washington D.C.
RomanBabakin/iStock via Getty Images

Many of the veterans who fought for our freedoms have never seen the national memorials honoring their efforts—and their fallen friends. Honor Flights helps send veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam to Washington D.C. to see their monuments. You can help sponsor one of those flights.

6. Write a letter to thank a veteran.

Veterans Day parade
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Operation Gratitude is an organization that coordinates care packages, gifts, and letters of thanks to veterans. You can work through them to send your appreciation to a vet, or volunteer to help assemble care packages. And, if you still have candy kicking around from Halloween, Operation Gratitude also mails sweets to deployed troops.

7. Volunteer at a VA hospital.

a veteran saluting the American flag
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Whatever your talents are, they'll certainly be utilized at a Veterans Administration Hospital. From working directly with patients to helping with recreational programs or even just providing companionship, your local VA Hospital would be thrilled to have a few hours of your time.

8. Get involved with a Veterans Assistance Program.

veteran marching in a military parade
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There are veterans in your community that could use help—but how do you find them? Contact a local veterans assistance program, such as the one offered by DAV. They'll be able to put you in touch with local vets who need help doing chores like yard work, housework, grocery shopping, or running errands.

9. Help veterans with job training.

military men meeting in an office setting
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Adjusting to civilian life after military service isn't always smooth sailing. Hire Heroes helps vets with interview skills, resumes, and training so they can find a post-military career. They even partner with various employers to host a job board. Through Hire Heroes, you can help veterans with mock interviews, career counseling, job searches, workshops, and more.

10. Help build a house for a veteran.

Volunteers help build a house
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Building Homes for Heroes builds or modifies homes to suit the needs of veterans injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. The houses are given mortgage-free to veterans and their families. You can volunteer your painting, carpentry, plumbing, wiring, and other skilled services—or you can just donate to the cause.

11. Volunteer for an "Operation Reveille" event for homeless veterans.

military dog tag that says
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The VA continually hosts Operation Reveille, a series of one- to three-day events that give much-needed supplies and services to homeless veterans. Vets can receive everything from food and clothing to health screenings, housing solutions, substance abuse treatment, and mental health counseling. They take place at various places across the nation all year long, so contact the representative in your state about when and how you can volunteer.

This story first ran in 2017.

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