For many years, I had a Keurig. I loved my Keurig and its compact pods with their promise of just enough coffee to make the perfect cup without ever needing to measure. But every time I casually tossed one of those plastic pods in the trash can: guilt. They’re neither recyclable nor biodegradable, and tossing the pods every day never felt right. (It doesn’t even sit right with Keurig founder, John Sylvan, who, when facing mounting environmental criticism told the Atlantic, “I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it.”)
It’s a big reason I parted ways with my Keurig (that, and a leak of unknown origin) — but I wish I’d known there were many other ways to put those K-Cup to use once my coffee was brewed.
Use them as seed starters
Instead of tossing those empty pods into the nearest landfill (where they’ll take up to 500 years to decompose) use them to create new organic matter. First remove — but don’t discard — the used coffee grounds. Cut out the filter with scissors. (Yes, they have filters! Who knew?) Mix the grounds in with potting soil (coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, which improves the quality of your soil). Fill the bottoms with the potting soil mixture, drop in a few seeds, then cover them with more soil/grounds. (Don’t forget to label each cup with a Sharpie so you know what’s in there.)
After watering your seed pods and covering them with plastic wrap to create a “greenhouse effect,” place them on a cookie sheet or baking dish. (It helps if you place them atop small pebbles or another porous surface so excess moisture can drain through the hole in the bottom that was made by the machine when it brewed your coffee.) Mist the soil a few times a day (or as directed by the seed package) and transfer to your outdoor garden when your nascent sprouts are ready.
Refill and use them to brew more coffee
It’s not necessarily intuitive (after all, one of the reasons you have a Keurig is so you don’t have to mess with “making coffee”) but if you’d like to get more than a single use out of your coffee pods, you can refill and use them to brew a fresh cup of coffee (multiple times). Just be sure to order and use re-usable lids so the grounds don’t spill into your drink.
Use them to hold all the small things (including leftovers)
Whether in your home office, craft room, junk drawer, or refrigerator, empty pods are small but mighty storage tools. In your office, fill them with paperclips, staples, thumbtacks, binder clips, and more (and cover with those lids). They make great containers for buttons and beads in your crafting corner, and you can even use them to hold spare change.
In your kitchen, the compact pods are the perfect resting place for tiny amounts of leftovers that don’t warrant their own container. (Think gravy, unused fresh herbs, chopped garlic, and tiny bite-sized portions of pork chop your 3-year-old deemed “asgusting.”) Again — lids are important here.
Use them as bath bomb molds
What could be better than a luxurious bath bomb set from your nearest beauty store? A small-batch, artisanal hand-crafted bath bomb made with love on your own kitchen counter (in the shape of a coffee pod) — that’s what. All you’ll need is a recipe, your favourite essential oils, and some coffee pods that have been emptied, cleaned, and removed of their filters with scissors. Use the pods as molds for your liquid creation, allow them to set overnight and they should be ready to brighten your bathwater the next evening.
Make popsicles, herb butter, and jello shots
There’s something for everyone here, really; the child, the chef, and the thirsty grownup. After sealing the hole and removing the filter, you deserve a delicious pod popsicle. You can either freeze them with popsicle sticks or wooden coffee stirrers, or enjoy it straight out of the cup, like an Italian ice.
Also, adding softened butter and chopped herbs to the pod before freezing them will yield individual portions of herb butter. And you know a pod is shaped just like a shot glass, right? For your next throwback-themed party — or if you just want to relive spring breaks past — empty pods are the perfect vessel to hold all manner of jello shots, from basic to downright classy.
Create wedding decor on the cheap
You heard that right — wedding decor. I realise it sounds crazy, but when you see some of the things the Pinterest elite can create, you’ll be a believer. This wreath, made by sliding the pods inside each other, securing them with hot glue, and moulding them into a circle before hanging them by a white ribbon is — dare I say — elegant? And what about bedazzling them with beads, paint, and glitter and using them place card holders — or stringing them up with gold twine for a DIY garland? Would you believe when paired with coloured tissue paper and a string of white holiday lights they look positively charming? Well, they do.
Use them for holiday crafts
Listen, we don’t all have the time or desire to be a sustainable Martha Stewart who turns trash into treasure on a regular basis, but if you do — and you celebrate Christmas and you have a Keurig? Then passing on this coffee pod Advent calendar in the shape of a Christmas tree is simply not an option. Using them to make holiday bells, un-meltable snowmen, and Olaf are all worthy alternatives, too.