Posts tagged "coffee"

How can I reuse or recycle out-of-date instant coffee?

instant-coffeeWe’ve had an email from Allison:

We always have coffee in for visitors but rarely use more than a few spoonfuls of it before it goes out of date. Can I do anything it?

The only reuse I can think of off the top of my head is making ye olde stained paper when I was a kid – possibly not the most useful suggestion unless you really, really like making fake old maps ;)

A quick Google reveals some more useful things – they can be used as a scent in soapmaking, dying fabric or even to develop camera film.

Any other ideas?

How can I keep using or recycle a Nespresso coffee machine?

evil-coffee-podsWe’ve had an email from Roger:

Work as getting rid of a coffee machine it got free from a nescafe rep, and i thought of instead of letting it go to the bin i would rescue it and give it a home. I got it home and realised that it requires these expensive disposable coffee pods to work (the reason work got rid) so I am asking if any of the bloggers/readers of this page own one of these machines and if they have discovered methods of refilling these with filter coffee. Or if no one can help me with this nice ideas on how to reuse them, they are unfortunately made of many materials and hard to recycle. i don’t want to be tied to the evil nescafe brand so any hints or tips would be immense.

I don’t think I can put into words how much those machines annoy me – all the excessive packaging just to force you to keep buying their product. Seriously grrrr! Grrrrr! The one my last place of work had was even worse than the pod things (which seem to be aluminium) – it was a plastic bag thing with a plastic nozzle for attaching to the machine: two minutes of convenience versus an eternity in landfill, smashing, just smashing.

Anyway, there seem to be some reuse hacks out there for the pods but some people complain that the coffee isn’t quite as good and/or it might break the machine. If the machine is going to get ditched anyway, I suspect it’s worth a shot.

Any other suggestions?

How can I reuse or recycle plastic coffee bags?

coffee bagsWe buy all our tea and coffee from Just Coffee People. Contrary to one interpretation of their name, they don’t just sell coffee – they sell tea (black and herbal), sugar and hot chocolate/cocoa – and it is all AWESOME. The Tanzanian tea is the best we’ve ever tasted – it’s spoilt us for every other type of tea – and I’ve heard the same thing said about the coffee by other caffeine fiends. Plus, as well as helping growers overseas through the Fairtrade programme, it’s a socially inclusive company focused on community regeneration, providing trading and employment for people with all sorts of disabilities.

(Unfortunately it’s a Yorkshire-only operation at the moment – they’ll either deliver your stash to your door or you can buy it at various places around Leeds.)

Anyway, the reason I’m mentioning it here is because of the packaging: like lots of fresh coffee these days, everything comes in plastic bags. Whatever can be done with them?

I know my favourite wire woman Alison Bailey Smith uses coffee bags (as well as other random packaging) in her work – and the Just Coffee People ones are a lovely dull gold so crafty ideas are a definite possibility – any other ideas?

(Some details about the type of coffee bags I’m talking about in case you’re unsure: they’re quite a thick but flexible, heavy duty opaque plastic. Most are gusset type bags, around 8-10cm (3-4inches) in width, just less than that deep and about 15cm (6inches) or so tall. Most of the ones I’ve seen aren’t ready resealable – we just use a peg on ours.)

How can I reuse or recycle ground coffee cans?

coffee cansWe’ve had an email from Chelsea, who has very nicely been pimping this site to her family:

I told my mom about this site and she asked if there was anything about coffee cans. She saves all the ones she has, and just uses them for storing nails and such. Any better ideas?

In the UK, most coffee tends to come in either jars or bags but we’ve got some old Illy cans knocking around from before John discovered our fab local coffee supplier, the Just Coffee People (if you’re in Leeds, you should really try it – coffee fans tell me it’s great from there and we also heart the tea – and if you read the about page you’ll see it’s a great Social Firm too. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes..). The Illy cans either came with a screw top lid or a rubber cap, depending on the size of the can, so have way more reuses than a standard more-difficult-to-reseal food can.

Like Chelsea’s mum, we use them for nails etc in the cellar, storing other teas & coffees in the kitchen, a pen pot in the office upstairs and I’ve got two in front of me in the living room right now working as money boxes for our spare change. I’ve also used the screw on lids as saucers under plant pots – they’re silver and quite deep so look fun.

Any other suggestions?

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.)