It can be difficult to brew a sustainable cup of coffee at home. While we recommend finding coffee that is ethically sourced and packaged sustainably, unfortunately, it’s not always possible. But don’t feel guilty if you end up with a plastic coffee container every now and again. Sure, you can always turn to the coffee beans in the bulk section of your local grocery store or opt for reusable K-cup pods if you’re brewing in a Keurig.
But for those unexpected moments where you find yourself reaching for a plastic coffee container – whether it’s accidentally or out of necessity because your other options are limited – you always have the option of turning your used plastic coffee containers into something new: Crafts!
Birds are always seeking out homes and building materiials, which can unfortunately lead to birds picking through harmful trash and litter. Instead, make a safe, upcycled birdhouse and post it up in your yard. All you need is an empty plastic coffee can, glue, and either a scissor or Exacto knife to transform your old coffee container into a birdhouse, according to this tutorial from Angel Girl PJ.
First, make sure to clean the container, leaving behind no traces of coffee. Once the container is thoroughly cleaned out, you can measure the entrance and exit hole, ensuring it's enough for a bird to slip through but small enough to keep out predators. Sun Catcher Studio reports that birdhouse holes should be anywhere from 4 to 6 inches tall and 1.5 to 2.5 inches wide, to accommodate bird species like bluebird, chickadee, flicker, and house finch.
Once you have appropriately measured the entrance hole, use scissors or an Exacto knife to cut into the coffee container. Take extra care to make sure there are no sharp, jagged edges of the plastic sticking out, as these could potentially hurt the birds. You may want to even sand down the edges of the hole, too, to ensure the entrance is safe and smooth. Then, decorate as you please — the world is your oyster.
Just because your coffee container is done containing coffee, doesn’t mean it can’t contain something else! Upcycle your plastic coffee containers into kitchen canisters, such as bulk foods, loose tea, cooking utensils, etc. You can leave the coffee containers as is – so they still resemble coffee containers – or you can give them a bit of a glow-up as per this tutorial from Kellis Kitchen. Just slap on some paint and a chalkboard label and your kitchen is all the more organized and upcycled!
Toilet plunger or brush holder
No matter how many people wander into your guest bathroom to use the facilities, we promise you none of them will ever guess that your toilet plunger holder is actually an upcycled coffee container. To do so, as per DIY n Crafts, cover the coffee container with either contact paper or paint, then cut a hole in the lid that is big enough to accommodate the handle of either the plunger or toilet brush. Pretty clever, huh?
Ice cream maker
Now that you’ve finished all the coffee, you have yourself an at-home ice cream maker! All you need are two well-sealed empty coffee containers that are two different sizes. Add your ice cream base, salted ice, and your flavors into the smaller container, then put the smaller container into the larger one. Shake them together for about five to 10 minutes. For the full ice cream recipe, check out The Kitchn.
Reusable tissue box holder
Reimagine your empty coffee container as a reusable tissue box holder by decorating it however you like. You can wrap it in twine or rope, paint it, cover it with craft paper or some other material. Just make sure you have a slit in the top of the lid for the tissues to peek out.
You can slip reusable hankies in the coffee container, then pull the first one halfway out through the slit in the lid. Or, if you prefer not to use reusable hankies as tissues, just store the actual cardboard tissue box inside the coffee container itself. Just make sure a bit of tissue peeks out so people know what it is.