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.


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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.

18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer

iStock/MCCAIG
iStock/MCCAIG

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. Rosé Wine Glasses; $60 for Two

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. Nerf N-Strike Elite Surgefire; $19

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Walmart

3. Bushel & Berry Plants; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. Inflatable Donut; $11

An inflatable pool toy shaped like a pink donut with sprinkles
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. Star Spangled Spatula; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked … with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. Mlb Hot Dog Branders; $6 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders (which come in a variety of different designs repping teams across the country) from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. Una Grill; $145

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, on your deck, or anywhere in between.

Find It: Una

8. Hamburger Grilling Basket; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon or Walmart

9. Copper Fire Pit; $120

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. Bendy Straw Pool Noodle Float; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. Griddler Deluxe; $115

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. Vintage Snow Cone Maker; $32

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. Dachshund Corn On The Cob Holders; $6

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. Ice Cream Sandwich Maker; $20

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. Ue Wonderboom; $62

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable Bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. Rollors Game; $50

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. Hammock; $177

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL Survival Essentials; $45

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Moosejaw

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

A version of this story first ran in 2018. It has been updated to reflect current availability.

11 Unusual Cutting and Cheese Boards

Fred & Friends, Amazon
Fred & Friends, Amazon

Planning a wine and cheese party? Make sure what you're using to serve snacks is just as cute as your food is delicious.

1. Mouse Trap; $21

A cheese board shaped like a mouse trap

Fred & Friends, Amazon

At first glance, this item just looks like an oversized mouse trap. Ingeniously, the snapping part of the trap can be removed to reveal it's actually a cheese slicer. A chunk of cheese can be displayed and sliced on the 9-inch-long board—just don't invite any mice to the party.

Find it: Amazon

2. MOUSE BOARD; $30

A board shaped like a mouse hole with a mouse-shaped cheese cutter on top

Fred & Friends, Amazon

If a mouse trap is a little too macabre for your shindig, consider this adorable alternative. Assemble your cheeses on the 8-inch-long board and slice them up with a mouse-shaped knife that can be stored in the Tom and Jerry-esque mouse hole at the bottom.

Find it: Amazon

3. STATE SLATE; $20

Cheese and crackers arrayed on a slate cheese board

Bison Hill Stonecrafts, Amazon

Celebrate cheese from all over the United States with this patriotic slate. You can even grab a piece of chalk and write down the names of all the cheeses for hungry guests. Creator Bison Hill Stonecrafts will even personalize your board with a laser engraving, if you'd like.

Find it: Amazon

4. Log and Axe; $25

A cheese board shaped like a cut tree trunk

Fred & Friends, Amazon

Give your cheese a rustic presentation with this log and axe set-up. The solid beech cutting board is shaped like a log and comes with an axe-shaped knife to help you bring out your inner lumberjack.

Find it: Amazon

5. Mariner Wheel; $35

Invite all your sailor friends over for snacks with this nautical cheese board. When each of the four differently-shaped knives are placed into their respective holes in the board, the board looks like a ship's wheel.

Find it: UncommonGoods

6. Cheese Degrees; $20

A cutting board with a protractor design

Fred & Friends, Amazon

Make sure everyone gets an even amount of cheese with this obsessively precise cutting board. Whether you want perfect cubes or exactly portioned triangles, this cheese board can help ensure that everything is perfectly sliced.

Find it: Amazon

7. The States; $28

A cheese board in the shape of New York state

Amy Stringer-Mowat and Bill Mowat, UncommonGoods

Celebrate your home state with a bamboo cutting board created by New York-based woodworkers Amy Stringer-Mowat and Bill Mowat. You can see all the available state shapes in this PDF.

Find it: UncommonGoods

8. Voodoo Doll; $20

Pull out this voodoo doll-shaped board when you're feeling a little vindictive. You can hack away at meats and cheese and then store the knife appropriately in the wooden doll's back.

Find it: Overstock.com

9. Ampersand; $48

Delight your guests with some knowledge about where the ampersand comes from while using this board, which lets you fill a twisting line of crackers around three different cheeses.

Find it: UncommonGoods

10. Say Cheese; $19

A cheese board shaped like a smiling mouth

Fred & Friends, Amazon

Smile! It's cheese time. This mouth-shaped cheese board looks just as happy about the selection as you do. Underneath all the food, the board says "say cheese" in the center.

Find it: Amazon

11. The Obsessive Chef; $27

A cutting board with measurements on it

Fred & Friends, Amazon

This product comes with a series of lines to guide the cutter, including how to medium dice, small dice, brunoise, fine brunoise, batonnet, allumette, julienne, and fine julienne. The lines are burnished instead of printed, so they'll never get worn away.

Find it: Amazon or at one of the retailers below:

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

A version of this article first ran in 2017. It has been updated to reflect current availability.

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