Reuse K-Cups to Start Your Garden Seeds

Reuse K-Cups as Seed StartersK-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.

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77 Comments

  1. This is a great idea-i have already started saving my cups at home and at work!

  2. Joanne Tranchina

    The used K-Cups are great for little kids art projects! With the pre-punched hole in the bottom they are easy to hang from strings. With a little imagination and some other odds and ends they can be wind chimes, ornaments, or crazy monster feet!

  3. I never thought about using K-cups for my seedlings. It’s a great idea! I’ll start this afternoon :)

  4. Great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What an awesome way to reuse kcups!!! I am going to set up my kcup seed starters today!!!!!

  6. Barbara Shaheen

    I have not recycled please give me hints

  7. Great idea!

  8. Cute idea! I use pods instead of k-cups, but the coffee grounds & pods are prevalent in my compost & garden.

  9. rhonda nicholas

    i have been saving my k cups for starting tomato seed, cant wait to try this i also recycle the coffee grounds for my blur berry plants and roses. trying tto come up with a project for the left over k cups that i remove the coffee from it will happen soon lol

  10. What a great idea to start my tomato and pepper plants this spring

  11. I think reusing them for seeds is a great idea. By using the k cups the amount of grounds and water that i save is huge. I would make a couple pots of coffee a day because i always wanted fresh. Now i use about 3 cups a day.

  12. I love the seed starting idea! I do put all coffee grounds in my compost but never really thought of what to do with the plastic cups. It’s almost seed starting time in my "neck of the woods" so I’ll certainly be saving my cups!

  13. great idea!

  14. I actually did this many times. Someone gave me cacti pieces and I planted about 10 in k-cup containers.

  15. They’re the perfect size for pudding shots. Pudding being thicker than jello;)

  16. yes

  17. I think that’s a fantastic idea using kcups as seed starters.

  18. Jennifer suderman

    My nieces love to play with the cup. Either just stacking them and playing with them to build a pyramid, stacking one inside the other, or during bath time. Kids live the simplest things. You can also punch a larger whole in the bottom and use them to put a candle in for a candle light vigils.

  19. Ah, what a wonderful idea for using the K-Cups. I will circulate this idea!

  20. OMG! This is perfect! My husband and I buy seed starters every February to start perennials for the yard. I will save every kcup now! Thanks!

  21. What a grand idea!!
    Certainly will come in handy this season!
    Great way to recycle!!

  22. I am really happy to hear that we can re-use these cups in such a nice way. Good projects for little kids to start plants, etc. Thank you for the info.

  23. You sure can’t please everyone.

  24. This is a wonderful idea! Honestly, I go through too many kcups to throw them all away!

  25. Love the idea of using K-Cups to start new plants! I’m just getting back into composting and what a great way to make my coffee purchases work twice.

  26. A K-cup is a lot less waste than a fast food coffee cup each day!

  27. What a great idea this is!

  28. There is another plus to reusing a K-cup to plant garden seeds: keep the coffee grounds and put on top of soil after you plant. Coffee grounds are a natural way to keep weeds at bay!

  29. What a neat idea! I wish I had kept all the ones I have thrown away. I will be saving some for next spring.

  30. great idea!

  31. i too was hesitant to buy a keurig because of the "waste"..hearing the ways that other people have come up with to make them more eco-friendly makes me very happy! love the seed-starter idea! thanks..keep those great ideas coming!

  32. What a fantastic idea!

  33. Great idea – saving mine to try this!

  34. Considering the waste that I incurred from unused coffee when I used to buy it by the pound and always having it go rancid before getting through the whole pound, the K-Cups are substantially better on sheer waste of product.

  35. I used empty k cups to form legs on a cardboard cakeplate. Also used them to keep the foil off of iced cookies. By putting them in between rows of cookies it lifts the top of the foil.

  36. Mary Jane Mulvey

    Great idea using in the garden. Love my coffee k cups.

  37. What a great idea!!! Thanks!

  38. This is a brilliant idea!! I too have battled with the thought of the waste of plastic in K-cups. However before I discovered the K-cup experience and my Keurig machine, I used to spend a fortune in Styrofoam cups from a donut shop which will remain nameless but has the prettiest pink and orange logo, daily purchases because I can’t make a "good" pot of regular coffee….yes my downfall. Once I tried K-cups, I was hooked then reasoned that just because I am wasteful in one way, I am saving money and landfills full of Styrofoam. So I bought a K-cup machine for work too….hooked my coworkers on single cup coffee that is perfect every time. Use those Kcups for seedlings…I now too will be thinking of other uses. Thanks for the article and the constant need for recycling awareness!

  39. There should be no criticizing in the K-Cups are completely recyclable! The plastic goes to in the recyclable bin and in checking with our recycle department, they are recycled. So besides being able to use for other purposes, they are made back into other plastics.
    I want to thank you for taking the time to not only give the freshest coffee, but the best service and caring about the environment!
    I found your company by pure accident and I am so glad I did! I have purchased coffee in the stores and they do not ever compare to the coffee I get from you!
    I give out your information to everyone I know, they too have been very happy!
    I go threw A LOT of coffee! Yours is the best!
    Thank you for everything!

  40. I love this idea of up cycling K-Cups by using them to start new plants. This is a nice way to make the Earth smile!

  41. Just recieved my first case of pods-super fast shipping-thank you-I also have been thinking these would be great for starting seeds in.will give it a try.

  42. What a great idea, I will have to try it this year.

  43. I had never even thought of upcycling spent K-Cups. I could use them to start cucumber seeds, my kids’ favorite vegetable and they have been wanting to garden. Definitely food for thought. Thanks

  44. While I am not a gardener, I have found that I can get a little more than one cup of coffee from each k-cup. My coffee tends to get a bit chilly about 3/4ths of the way, so I just brew another med size cup into the same mug and i stretch the wealth!

  45. OMG I cannot wait to show this to my hubby! He is the gardener of the family!!!

  46. Love this idea of upcycling the vue cups to seedling cups. Gonna give it a try! Thanks for the info

  47. This is a great idea.

  48. This is an excellent post! As I start my garden seeds this week, I will definitely try reusing my k-cups! Love the idea. :)

  49. Refilled with Java Blawan Estate would be awesome!

  50. I live in RI and we are told that the Kcup is not recyclable. I love the idea of using the cups for planting seedlings. This is a great idea for elementary/religious school teachers for Earth Day project! Not only to teach about sustainability, but also to preserve and protect our resources! Love this idea.

  51. I run my coffee through grounds twice to get the most out of pod

  52. I would love to hear more ideas for what to do with used k-cups. I cringe every time I throw one in the trash. I always recycle anything I can.

  53. Excellent post!

  54. My son loves to garden….sounds like a great idea!!

  55. although I don’t use many k-cups, I use some occasionally and I like the idea of using to start seeds in. I’ve been wanting to start an herb garden on my patio. This sounds like just the right thing to get it started. Ty for the idea.

  56. While K-Cups may have some waste involved, it is also wasteful to through coffee away from a pot of coffee because noone drank it! I love the single-serving option. The coffee is always fresh…and I am not throwing out 1./2 pots of coffee all the time!

  57. what a great idea,saving monet instead of throwing the cups out

  58. This is an awesome idea. I would love to implement it at work :)

  59. I think that this is a great idea! I help my Keurig to be more environmentally friendly by using a Reusable my K-cup device. The only inconvenience with it is that you have to clean it out afterwards, but that still beats the cleaning and maintenance of an old-fashioned coffee brewer! I think we should definitely get the word out about using these as seed starters. My school alone could definitely contribute!

  60. I fill them up with dirt and use them for target practice for my .22 rifle!

  61. What a great idea! Thank you for sharing this. I’m getting ready to do some seed planting this week and will give this a try.

  62. What a great idea. I always felt bad about throwing away the cups!

  63. Great idea! Thanks for sharing. I also appreciate the other ideas mentioned by other commenters. I’ll be back to visit!

  64. I make my dog home made frosty paws. The k-cups work great for freezing his yogurt treats. And a perfect size for him.

  65. I use the my-k-cup and have started composting the grounds.

  66. I think it’s great there is a blog that helps us think, not only spend.. Great ideas from Coffee for Less and all posters, keep it up!! I will be back! Seed starters, frosty paws, target practice , it will be fun using them again. Thanks for the ideas. I will be checking back again…

  67. Great idea! Keep the good ideas comin’.

  68. I was really impressed with this bright and simple idea. Makes good sense to me. Think I’ll try it.

  69. I love these innovative ideas!

  70. I’ve been thinkng about making a rain chain out of old k-cups, I’ll let you know when I get it worked out.

  71. My elderly mother has trouble remembering her meds. I’m going to recycle some kcups by writing the date on the side, and filling the cup with the meds for that day.

  72. I love this idea! The size of the k cups is great for a lot of uses and I hate not reusing them. I will pass these ideas on to my friends! The meds idea is good also.

  73. I LOVE this idea!! I am all about reusing materials and this is the PERFECT way to reuse Kcups. I love it!!

  74. Love this idea. I need some to do with all my used cups. Please share any crafts you might have also.

  75. Great idea! I am starting an herb garden and will use those cups to begin.

  76. I open up the k cup and put the grinds in the compost bin.

  77. Another fun kids project is that K-Cups can be reused as bird feeders. I knot a piece of thin rope to hold on the bottom and thread it through the hole and fill with bird seed or breadcrumbs. Then i glue an ice cream stick across the top side to make a landing perch. I hang them from my gazebo.

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