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.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Amy Chenoweth (@ayyitsamyyy84) on

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.

7 Ways Victorian Fashion Could Kill You

An 1862 engraving showing a skeleton gentleman at a ball asking a skeleton lady to dance, meant to represent the effect of arsenic dyes and pigments in clothing and accessories.
An 1862 engraving showing a skeleton gentleman at a ball asking a skeleton lady to dance, meant to represent the effect of arsenic dyes and pigments in clothing and accessories.

While getting dressed in the morning can seem like a hassle (pajamas are so much more comfortable), few of us worry about our clothes leading to our death. That wasn’t the case during the Victorian era, when fashionable fabrics and accessories sometimes came at great price for both makers and wearers. In Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present, Alison Matthews David, a professor in the School of Fashion at Ryerson University in Toronto, outlines the many toxic, flammable, and otherwise highly hazardous components of high style during the 19th century. Here are a few of the worst offenders.

1. Poisonous Dyes

A drawing of Victorian fashions likely made with arsenic dyes
A drawing of Victorian fashions likely made with arsenic dyes
Bloomsbury Visual Arts

Before the 1780s, green was a tricky color to create on clothes, and dressmakers depended on a combination of yellow and blue dyes to produce the hue. But in the late 1770s a Swedish/German chemist named Carl Wilhelm Scheele invented a new green pigment by mixing potassium and white arsenic on a solution of copper vitriol. The pigment was dubbed Scheele’s Green, and later Paris Green, among other names, and it became a huge sensation, used to color walls, paintings, and fabrics as well as candles, candies, food wrappers, and even children’s toys. Not surprisingly, it also caused sores, scabs, and damaged tissue, as well as nausea, colic, diarrhea, and constant headaches.

Although fashionable women wore arsenic-dyed fabrics—even Queen Victoria was depicted in one—its health effects were worst among the textile and other workers who created the clothes and often labored in warm, arsenic-impregnated rooms day after day. (Some scholars have even theorized that Napoleon might have been poisoned by the arsenic-laced wallpaper hung in his St. Helena home.)

Arsenical dyes were also a popular addition to artificial flowers and leaves, which meant they were frequently pinned to clothes or fastened on heads. In the 1860s, a report commissioned by the Ladies’ Sanitary Association found that the average headdress contained enough arsenic to poison 20 people. The British Medical Journal wrote of the green-clad Victorian woman: “She actually carries in her skirts poison enough to slay the whole of the admirers she may meet with in half a dozen ball-rooms.” Despite repeated warnings in the press, and from doctors and scientists, the Victorians seemed in love with emerald green arsenic dyes; ironically, they acted like a reminder of the nature then swiftly being lost to industrialization, David says.

2. Pestilential Fabrics

Soldiers of the Victorian era (and earlier) were plagued by lice and other body parasites that carried deadly diseases such as typhus and trench fever. But soldiers weren’t the only victims of disease carried via fabric—even the wealthy sometimes wore clothing that was made or cleaned by the sick in sweatshops or tenements, and which spread disease as a result. According to David, the daughter of Victorian Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel died after her riding habit, given to her by her father as a gift, was finished in the house of a poor seamstress who had used it to cover her sick husband as he lay shivering with typhus-induced chills. Peel’s daughter contracted typhus after wearing the garment, and died on the eve of her wedding.

Women also worried about their skirts sweeping through the muck and excrement of city streets, where bacteria was rife, and some wore special skirt-fasteners to keep them up from the gunk. The poor, who often wore secondhand clothes, suffered from smallpox and other diseases spread by fabric that was recycled without being properly washed.

3. Flowing Skirts

Giant, ruffled, crinoline-supported skirts may have been fine for ladies of leisure, but they weren’t a great combination with industrial machinery. According to David, one mill in Lancashire posted a sign in 1860 forbidding the “present ugly fashion of HOOPS, or CRINOLINE, as it is called” as being “quite unfitted for the work of our Factories.” The warning was a wise one: In at least one printing office, a girl was caught by her crinoline and dragged under the mechanical printing press. The girl was reportedly “very slim” and escaped unharmed, but the foreman banned the skirts anyway. Long, large, or draped skirts were also an unfortunate combination with carriages and animals.

4. Flammable Fabrics

A woman with her crinoline on fire
Bloomsbury Visual Arts

The flowing white cotton so popular in the late 18th and 19th centuries had dangers to both maker and wearer: It was produced with often-brutal slave labor on plantations, and it was also more flammable than the heavy silks and wool favored by the wealthy in the previous centuries. One type of cotton lace was particularly problematic: In 1809 John Heathcoat patented a machine that made the first machine-woven silk and cotton pillow “lace” or bobbinet, now better known as tulle, which could catch fire in an instant. The tulle was frequently layered, to add volume and compensate for its sheerness, and stiffened with highly combustible starch. Ballerinas were particularly at risk: British ballerina Clara Webster died in 1844 when her dress caught fire at London’s Drury Lane theatre after her skirt came too close to sunken lights onstage.

But performers weren’t the only ones in peril: Even the average woman wearing the then-popular voluminous crinolines was at risk of setting herself ablaze. And the “flannelette” (plain cotton brushed to create a nap and resemble wool flannel) so popular for nightshirts and undergarments was particularly combustible if hit with a stray spark or the flame of a household candle. So many children burned in household accidents that one company came out with a specially treated flannelette called Non-Flam, advertised as being “strong’y recommended by Coroners.”

5. Arsenic-Ridden Taxidermy

Dead birds were a popular addition to ladies’ hats in the 19th century. According to David, “fashions in millinery killed millions of small songbirds and introduced dangers that may still make some historic women’s hats harmful to humans today.”

But it wasn’t the birds that were the problem—it was the arsenic used on them. Taxidermists of the day used arsenic-laced soaps and other products to preserve birds and other creatures. In some cases, entire birds—one or several—were mounted on hats. Some Victorian fashion commentators decried the practice, though not because of the arsenic involved. One Mrs. Haweis, a writer on dress and beauty, began an 1887 diatribe against “smashed birds” with the sentence: “A corpse is never a really pleasant ornament.”

6. Mercury

No upper-class man of the Victorian era was complete without his hat, but many of those hats were made with mercury. As David explains, “Although its noxious effects were known, it was the cheapest and most efficient way to turn stiff, low-grade fur from rabbits and hares into malleable felt.” Mercury gave animal fur its smooth, glossy, matted texture, but that velvety look came at a high cost—mercury is an extremely dangerous substance.

Mercury can rapidly enter the body through the skin or the air, and causes a range of horrible health effects. Hatters were known to suffer from convulsions, abdominal cramps, trembling, paralysis, reproductive problems, and more. (A chemistry professor studying toxic exposure at Dartmouth College, Karen Wetterhahn, died in 1996 after spilling just a few drops of a supertoxic type of mercury on her glove.) To make matters worse, hatters who drank while they worked (not an uncommon practice) only hastened mercury’s effects by hampering the liver’s ability to eliminate it. While scholars still debate whether Lewis Carroll’s “mad hatter” was meant to show the effects of mercury poisoning, his trembling limbs and wacky speech seem to fit the bill.

7. Lead

A Victorian facial cream containing lead
A Victorian facial cream containing lead
Bloomsbury Visual Arts

Pallor was definitely in during the Victorian era, and a face spackled with lead white paint was long favored by fashionable women. Lead had been a popular ingredient in cosmetics for centuries, David writes, because it “made colors even and opaque and created a desirable ‘whiteness’ that bespoke both freedom from hard outdoor labor and racial purity.” One of the most popular lead-laced cosmetic products was called Laird’s Bloom of Youth; in 1869, one of the founders of the American Medical Association treated three young women who had been using the product and temporarily lost full use of their hands and wrists as a result. (The doctor described the condition as “lead palsy,” although today we call it wrist drop or radial nerve palsy, which can be caused by lead poisoning.) One of the women’s hands was said to be “wasted to a skeleton.”

This article was republished in 2019.

The 25 Highest-Paying Entry-Level Jobs for New Graduates

iStock/kali9
iStock/kali9

When they finish their final exams, college seniors can look forward to job hunting. Roughly 1.9 million students in the U.S. will receive their bachelor's degrees this school year, and while some new graduates may be happy to take the first job they're offered, others will be looking for something that pays well—even at the entry level. According to Glassdoor, recent grads qualified for the 25 jobs below will have the best luck.

To compile this list of the highest-paying entry-level jobs in the U.S., the job search website identified employment opportunities with the highest median bases salaries reported by users 25 or younger. Positions in the tech industry dominate the list. Aspiring data scientists can expect to make $95,000 a year at their first job out of college, while software engineers have a median annual base salary of $90,000. Other entry-level tech jobs like UX designer, Java developer, and systems engineer all start at salaries of $70,000 or more.

Banking and business positions, including investment banking analysta ($85,000), actuarial analysts ($66,250), and business analysts ($63,000), appear on the list as well. The only listed position that doesn't fall under the tech, finance, or business categories is for physical therapists, who report a median starting salary of $63,918.

You can check out the full list of the 25 highest-paying entry-level jobs below.

  1. Data Scientist // $95,000
  2. Software Engineer // $90,000
  3. Product Manager // $89,000
  4. Investment Banking Analyst // $85,000
  5. Product Designer // $85,000
  6. UX Designer // $73,000
  7. Implementation Consultant // $72,000
  8. Java Developer // $72,000
  9. Systems Engineer // $70,000
  10. Software Developer // $68,600
  11. Process Engineer // $68,258
  12. Front End Developer // $67,500
  13. Product Engineer // $66,750
  14. Actuarial Analyst // $66,250
  15. Electrical Engineer // $66,000
  16. Mechanical Engineer // $65,000
  17. Design Engineer // $65,000
  18. Applications Developer // $65,000
  19. Test Engineer // $65,000
  20. Programmer Analyst // $65,000
  21. Quality Engineer // $64,750
  22. Physical Therapist // $63,918
  23. Field Engineer // $63,750
  24. Project Engineer // $63,000
  25. Business Analyst // $63,000

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER