K-Cups often receive the criticism that they are wasteful in terms of trash production, a claim that Keurig has refuted in terms of proportion of waste produced per capita. Certainly, Keurig has heard the criticism. Their new Vue single cup coffee maker uses #5 recyclable plastic, a plastic being recycled in more and more communities across North America every day, in its inserts.
However, many single cup coffee consumers still feel the need to find ways to reuse or repurpose spent K-Cups in order to reduce their impact. Recently, I stumbled across a great and timely use for spent K-Cups. This Instructables post teaches you how to turn used K-Cups into seed starters for your garden. Further, it even reminds us all that the contents of the K-Cup, the filter and grounds, are fully compostable.
Get Green With Single Cup Coffee
Single cup coffee consumers can reduce the carbon footprint of their favored single serving coffee or tea product. By engaging in a few environmentally conscious practices, your favorite way of brewing coffee or tea can fit into a reasonably green lifestyle.
While neither K-Cups nor T-Discs are recyclable, Vue disks are in many areas. Further, the contents of all three types of plastic cartridge refill for single cup coffee makers is a combination of coffee filter and coffee grounds, both of which are compostable. By composting your K-Cup or T-Disc contents, you low the volume of mass contributed to landfills.
Coffee pods themselves are typically an enclosed filter containing coffee grounds. This makes the entire coffee pod likely to be compostable, returning the valuable nutrients gathered from the soil by the coffee plant to the soil in your gardens. Most coffee pods are packed in foil or plastic packaging that is unlikely to be compostable. However, the spent pod itself actually accounts for the majority of the mass disposed.
Upcycling K-Cups, T-Discs or Coffee Pods
Upcycling is the process of turning trash into treasure, not through alchemy but through reuse. By taking the plastics in our lives and putting them to further use, we extend their positive impact while their disposal mass remains the same. By upcycling those plastics that would typically enter the waste cycle immediately, those plastics displace the need for other plastics.
Whatever type of single cup coffee or tea that you personally enjoy, finding ways to reuse spent single serving refills, whether through composting the contents or adapting spent cartridges for other purposes, is a great way to reduce the carbon footprint of your daily coffee consumption. A little upcycling effort seems like a fair trade for the lack of A.M. morning fog effort that single cup coffees and teas save us.
Let us know creative ways that you have upcycled spent K-Cups, T-Discs, or coffee pods personally; we would love to hear your creative ideas.