How can I reuse or recycle cardboard cup sleeves?

Coffee cup sleevesAfter writing about the ridged After Eight boxes the other day, it reminded me about something I thought of the other week.

Because John and I are utterly, utterly wild and live a hectic, glamorous lifestyle, the highlight of our Saturday a couple of weekends ago was a trip into Leeds for coffee and freshly made donuts from our two favourite street vendors. My build-up is mocking in tone but we’d seriously looked forward to it for about three days and were GUTTED to find the donut van wasn’t there. We searched all over the city centre in case it had just moved location but no. We had to make do with baklava from the Greek deli in the market instead and as yummy as it was, it wasn’t the same as donuts.

A few minutes later, when I found myself staring into the dark abyss of my coffee cup lamenting the lack of donuts, my eyes were momentarily distracted from my gloom by the cardboard sleeve around the cup. I’m always a fan of reusing cups when possible (we’ve already covered the plastic variety on the site) but not specifically thought about the ridged cardboard sleeves so common on takeout hot drinks these days.

So any suggestions?

I guess one re-use might be as packaging around flat (or cylindrical) items in the post or possibly cushioning under a heavy object (although the ridges might get squished out if the item is too heavy). Any other ideas?

(One idea of course may be to not accept them in the first place – if you drink take-out hot drinks regularly, you could make your own reusable sleeve from a scrap of fabric.)

(Oh, and just to clarify: we don’t go to Starbucks – we go to an independent place – it was just the best picture I could find to illustrate ridged sleeves.)

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11 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle cardboard cup sleeves?”

  1. Amanda says:

    You can make a mini book with coffee sleeves! Here’s a tutorial:

    Also, if you’re looking for a great reusable and affordable sleeve, here is a really cool one that I use every day:

    The clip lets me attach it to my bag so I never forget it when I need my coffee buzz ;)

  2. Lupa says:


  3. tyler says:

    have u ever had your drinks fall out of the cupholders of your car because the cupholders are to shallow? put them on top of the cupholders and push down into place it keeps the drink in better by extending it a inch or so

  4. Cielia says:

    My roomate has worn them as bracelets…

  5. How about swapping your paper cup for something like our ‘I’m not a paper cup’ mug which is great for takeaway coffees or teas – just take it to your favourite coffee shop and have it refilled. That way you cut down on paper cups, lids and the paper sleeves (because it’s thermal you won’t burn your hands and your coffee stays nice and hot) that end up being thrown away anyway.

  6. debbie says:

    gift card holders. Punch hole front and back on each side of the logo. Tie a knot in one end of a 2-4″ ribbon and thread it through each pair of holes (again, front to back) so the knot snugs up against the cardboard. On the other ribbon end, slip on a bead that needs some effort to push up and down the ribbon, then tie another knot at end of ribbon. Do this again on the other end. Cinch the bead against the sleeve and it keeps the “pocket” closed. Glue or tape the bottom of the sleeve closed neatly. Insert gift money or gift card, cinch up beads, and give or hide for yourself to use later.

  7. mormonsim says:

    Take your own mug. These would be great to keep wound cords from tangling.You could use them for the rocker of a paper rocking chair.

  8. Samantha says:

    Use them for propogating seed… You can fill them with seed raising mix, germinate the seed (in a greenhouse or wherever) and then plant them straight into the ground, cardboard still on, without harming/disturbing the roots… The cardboard will break down gradually and you will have happy healthy new plants.

  9. The_Reveller says:

    I am collecting them to make gift tags next Christmas.

    Cut out into suitable shapes like stars trees squares etc.
    Spray paint the flat branded side and keep the ridged side as is

    They should look very arty

  10. Shorty says:

    Buy a thermos.

  11. Victor Lee says:

    I’m using the cardboard sleeves as DIY pots for germinating seedlings. Just cut the bottom at 4 different sides about 1 inch and fold it upwards.

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