For those who know me, I am a recycle NUT. Literally nothing is off-limits. I have repurposed old socks into toddler-size leggings, turned old baking sheets into cute magnetic message boards, and even made cute outfit-matching earrings out of the extra buttons that came with my pants! Just last night even, dear hubby was poking fun of me for my latest toilet paper roll creation.
So, here’s my dilemma. I drink coffee – like, a lot of coffee. And not just any coffee – I’m pretty picky. Lately, I’ve been into this one roaster out of California, Angelino’s Coffee. It’s so good, always roasted fresh, and gets here right on time each month. The thing is, Angelino’s is only available in k-cups. You know, use once and then throw away. This goes against every fiber of my eco-conscious being. So, I was thinking – how can I have my favorite coffee and still repurpose and upcycle? Ooooooo, I found some goodies, you guys!
There are hundreds of projects you can make to give your plastic K-Cups a greener, more eco-friendly life. I’ve tried over a dozen of them, but I’m just going to give you a rundown of my favorites. Just like me, if you’ve been struggling with being Earth-friendly and enjoying an amazing (and convenient) cup of coffee each morning (noon, and night), you’ll see that there’s no reason to give it up! Take a look.
1. Make Seed Starters
Plastic has a bad rep, but it can be incredibly useful. K-Cups are the perfect shape and size to be seed starters. All you have to do is fill them up with garden soil, drop a few seeds in, and cover them with a bit more soil. With enough time and dedication, you could get a pretty substantial garden. Kale, radishes, lettuce, and basil (my fave!) are all beginner-friendly crops.
Okay, what is propagation, you ask? Basically, it’s similar to making a seed starter, but it’s used for decorative plants and flowers. Simply snip a leaf from a healthy adult plant and plant in soil or water to begin growing a new plant.
To me, there’s something beautifully therapeutic about this process. Especially when I use Angelino’s Coffee pods. Their coffee is sourced in an environmentally conscious way that respects farmers and the Earth (which is incredibly important to me). So, starting new plant life in these used K-Cups kinda feels like you’re going full-circle – yay!
3. Freeze Fresh Herbs
Okay, when’s the last time you opened your fridge and discovered some spoiled fresh oregano or brown basil? For me, it was last night. And, I hate to say that forgetting to use my herbs is a pretty bad habit of mine. So, here’s a trick I’ve found – freezing them! Lately, I’ve been using my K-Cups to freeze them while they’re still good so that I can use them later. This upcycle is super easy to do. Simply cover the bottom hole on the used pod with tape or hot glue and set it on top of another empty pod. Then, chop your herbs as desired, add to the k-cup, fill with water and freeze. Voila! Just drop an herb cube into whatever you’re cooking.
4. Make a Cold Brew Ice Cube Latte
Ummm, yum?? Who doesn’t love a good iced cold brew coffee? This upcycle tip is pretty cool because it lets you get full use out of the k-cups. For this project, I recommend building up a healthy amount of used cups (about 20) from your brews first. Then, close the holes on the bottom of the cups and double stack them. Brew your favorite coffee, fill each cup, and freeze. Once frozen, simply fill a tall glass to the top with your coffee cubes and add your favorite kind of milk. There you have it – a Cold Brew Ice Cube Latte!
My latest obsession is Angelino’s Sumatra Dark, which coincidentally is bold and just perfect for this recipe. But, play around with flavors until you find your favorite! Angelino’s has over 20 different coffee variations last I checked. There’re even 5 decaf options for when you need to ease up on the caffeine. You’re sure to find something, friends.
5. Dipping Sauce Cups
I make chicken nuggets constantly. It’s one of the few things I can get my picky kiddos to eat (sigh, that’s for another blog post). I’ll admit the nuggets aren’t my fave, but I am able to suffer through with the help of some yummy homemade honey mustard sauce. The problem is, I am constantly making batches that are too large, no one finishes using the sauce, and the rest gets tossed. What I have started doing is taking those empty k-cups, double stacking them and filling the hole, and then letting each kid have their own dipping sauce cup. Then the rest just gets stored for later in a Tupperware container.
6. Whip Up Mini Popsicle Treats
The kiddos LOVE this one. Double stack your Keurig cups (remember to close the hole on one of them!) and pour in your favorite fruit juice. It could be orange juice, grape juice—you name it. Then, stick a toothpick in the cups and put them in the freezer overnight. The great thing about this is the mini popsicles are the perfect size for an afternoon treat without getting the kids hyped-up on too much sugar.
7. Use K-Cups as Office Organizers
Okay, you caught me! My little corner-of-the-living-room desk is a DISASTER most times. When I discovered this upcycle, I tried it immediately – mostly because I couldn’t find anything anymore. It’s a pretty easy one; just use empty k-cups to sort all kinds of supplies scattered around your desk (I see you there, too!). I’ve sorted my paperclips, thumbtacks, and staples this way—and I’m not going back.
8. Treat Yourself with DIY Coffee Bath Bombs
Bath bombs make any bath look fancier and more relaxing, but they can cost a pretty penny. Seriously, expect to spend at least ten bucks for a tiny pack! Fortunately, making your own at home is way more affordable. Simply use stacked k-cups as molds for your bath bomb recipe! I found and amazing coffee bath bomb recipe that infuses real coffee grounds. When I make these bath bombs, I like to use one of Angelino’s flavored coffees because it gives that extra amazing scent that I’m looking for. They have this super convenient Experience Pack that has 96 flavored coffees to choose from. I just brew a flavor, enjoy, and then use the grounds and cup to make a bath bomb for unwinding later.
9. Build a Chain of Fairy Lights
This is one of my favorite ideas just because it’s so pretty! Who would think that coffee pods could look so good? Just grab a string of lights, cut an x-shape on the bottom, and fit over each light like a lamp shade. Color the cups or cut out shapes to cast stunning shadows on the wall and great some totally amazing ambiance.
10. Deck the Halls!
Empty plastic k-cups are the perfect thing for making Christmas ornaments! Sit the kids down at the kitchen table, give em’ some WASHABLE paint, and let them decorate away while you sneak away for a mug of Irish coffee (which Angelino’s super-bold Dark Roast is PERFECT for) and an episode of your favorite show that you’re three years behind on (ahem!).
Bonus: Don’t Forget Your Coffee Grounds
We’ll get into all the things you can do with coffee grounds on another day. But, for now, remember that used coffee grounds are like gold, my friends. And, I’ll leave you with this simple idea for making a coffee body scrub.
Turning Grounds into Body Scrub
Mix coffee grounds with enough olive or coconut oil to make a paste. Then, when you’re in the shower, use it to exfoliate your skin. I do this all the time with my Angelino’s coffee grounds, no joke! I figure, with the coffee being so fresh as it is, how could it not also be great for my skin? Affordable and effective—what else could I ask for?