How to Re-Purpose Those Plastic K-Cups
Updated: May 4, 2022
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I have a variety of interests, so my posts aren’t about any one subject. This week I have been thinking about those little K-cups made for Keurig coffeemakers, and that gave birth to this article. Hope you like it...
If you make coffee in those convenient Keurig coffee makers you, like me, might hate to just toss those little plastic cups after the coffee is ready. I asked myself, “Isn’t there something I can do with those little cups?” So I did some research, and I have some good news for you environmentally conscious folks. Those little cups can be re-purposed for a variety of useful things besides adding to a landfill.
Now I don’t have a Keurig system at home (cups cost a bit too much for my budget), but we do have one at work, and I love the convenience – and the coffee. With several folks making coffee a couple times a day, I had a lot of used K-cups to experiment with. Here are some of the ideas I liked best. Check them out – and let me know if you have any other suggestions.
First, Some Directions In each case, you will need to remove the foil cover, then the paper liner/filter filled with coffee grounds. (Remember coffe grounds are great fertilizers for many plants.) You may want to trim off the curled top edge, but it’s not necessary for most applications. Wash the cup out, then follow the directions in each section below. K-cups have a hole in the bottom where the coffee filters through, so you will need to cover it with some foil if you want to use it with liquids.
Some Practical uses: - Seed Starters This is the first idea I came up with as the size is perfect for planting seeds where you can easily care for them. After you remove the cover and clean the K-cup, fill it about half way with potting soil (I get mine at the Dollar Store). Use a pencil, skewer or screwdriver to make a small hole in the middle of the soil for your seeds. Cover the seeds with more dirt, then water them. The little hole in the bottom serves as a drain for excess water. Place on a dish or foil pan and set in a sunny window. Easy prep – now just watch for the shoots and replant when they are big enough. Oh, and be sure to label the seeds so you know what the plants are when they grow!
- For Leftover Storage Freeze little amounts of sauces or gravy in K-cups to create single portions to use at another meal or to re-heat when having leftovers. Pour the sauce into a k-cup (with the bottom covered with some foil), cover with plastic wrap and use a rubber band to hold the cover securely. Then freeze. If you have more leftover liquids, fill more cups.
- Jewelry Saver If you have small pieces of jewelry that you keep losing (like those little earring backs), try keeping them in emptied K-Cups. You can use several to keep small pieces together or store pendants that use the same chain separated. If you put the cups on a small “silver”tray on the dresser, they will be easy to locate when you need them.
- Portion control Fill the cups with Jello or pudding to create tiny snacks when the kids (or you) need a little something to tide you over. Good for diet control, too.
Crafters Can Use Them - When I look at the clean K-cup I immediately see a little bell shape, so I experimented with crating tiny bell clusters. I glued some bright colored felt to the bottom of the cup (which becomes the top of the bell, then added some glue on decorations to the side. I poked a center hole through the felt and plastic and threaded a thin, shiny metallic cord into the cup, through a “jingle bell” and back out to make a hanging loop and make it jingle when I shake it. The bells can be clustered together or used separately on a wreath or Christmas tree. Also cute favors at a shower.
- If you are a beader, you can easily store beads and other craft supplies in the cups.
- Make cute little pin cushions by putting a cotton ball, sand or foam in a tiny circle of cloth, then gluing the ball (loose ends down) to the bottom of the K-cup.
- Use them as a replacement in any craft that requires a mini flower pot (like pilgrim hats).
For Entertaining: - Unique Ice Cubes You can use the cups to create good-sized specialty ice cubes for punch bowls or individual glasses. Freeze water, juice or coffee in K-Cups to make specialty ice cubes. You can even add a little mandarin orange or other fruit, or even tiny flowers to the water to make them pretty for a party. Easy and practical – the juice cubes are perfect for putting in punch and you can save left over coffee for iced coffee drinks. (Though I never have leftover coffee.) Adding food color also makes them unique.
- Place Card Holders Cover the K-cup with cute wrapping paper, then cut a slit in the bottom to hold a card. Turn it over and insert the card of your choice. Makes a unique place setting for your dinner parties.
Holiday Events - Christmas Light Covers The K-cups are a perfect size to cover a string of little Christmas lights and add some interest. First, cut an X in the bottom of the cup with an X-acto knife or scissors, then cut the side to create “petals” Shape the petals a little with small scissors and a pencil (to curve them). Slip the cup bottoms over the light bulbs so the lights just show.
- Christmas Decorations To “plant” a mini Christmas tree, cover the K-cup with pretty Christmas wrapping paper, then fill it with a little soil or some tiny colored stones. Next "plant" it with a small evergreen branch (real or plastic). Decorate it with ribbon, shells or other mini Christmas decorations. These would also be great at each guest’s place setting for Christmas dinner.
- Painted green and turned bottom-up you have the start of a tiny Christmas tree. Top with a green Hershey’s Kiss and you have another cute favor.
Kids Love Them, Too - Got artistic kids? Fill the K-cups with tempera paint in different colors. Less dry-out and wasted paint than other containers.
- Use K-cups for holding single servings of small snacks at a child’s birthday party or just for everyday meals. Kids love “little food.”
- K-cups are also perfect “bug holders” for your child’s outside finds. Cover the top with some tulle or screen and let them observe the bug till they get tired of it. (Then let the bug go home.)
Last Idea: Donate them Some Keurig users save up their used K-cups, clean them out and donate them to local schools and day care centers so kids can use them during playtime. They are cute as “building blocks” or other 3-D toys. Check with the Center first to be sure they want them.
There you have it, some clever ideas for using those little K-Cups. Not all of the projects were unique to me, but they all were fun. Let me know if you have some other uses and I’ll share them with everyone.