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.
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.
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.