27 March 2012

Two out of three isn't bad, right?

So... I am humbly writing a follow-up to my previous post about stripping a k-cup for recycling. I am still endorsing the stripping procedure, but I am simply here to tell you that I found out the plastic portion of the cup is actually NOT recyclable.

Whew! There, I said it.

That's been weighing on me ever since I found out. No, it isn't my fault or anything, but it sure does sting. A LOT. I've been tossing those little cups into the recycling bin for almost a year now and the recycling company keeps taking them (I'm not casting blame on them either). I'm sure they end up sorting them out into the landfill or burn pile (I haven't found that part out yet).

At any rate, the foil can still be recycled, and the coffee + paper filter will still be composted. We've planted some potatoes and basil seed, using some of our compost from the winter months.

The purple potatoes are breaking through!

I am still grateful for most of the product getting reused somehow, and for now I will wait for Keurig to update their plastics to a recycle grade. There are some programs out there to collect cups but I'm happy to get some use of the guts for our own plants. Check out Keurig's site if you want to read more about their social responsibility efforts.

Here are our current coffee habits that still feed coffee grounds into the compost....

1) Stovetop Espresso. Because more often than not, I have the time. It's SO good with a bit of sweetened condensed milk in the bottom when you want a treat.

2) French Press. Sometimes we want to sip on our coffee and spend some time chatting at the breakfast table. Light and frothy, yet still more robust than the regular drip.

3) The single cup coffee maker we've been discussing. The best option for reducing waste if you want a Keurig is to get a refillable k-cup. There are a couple of popular options out there (just google "solofill vs. ekobrew" and you'll see videos, blogs, etc). I've had the Solofill version for a year and I would use it only when I could stand there and watch it to make sure it didn't drip everywhere! The other day (yes, a year later) I figured out that the best way to use the Solofill -- avoid overfilling it, draw a short cup, and make sure the grind is not too fine. It makes more of an espresso sized serving so I use stronger coffee with it.

Enjoy your coffee, however you make it!

16 March 2012

How to Strip K-cups for the Recycling Bin

Last year, my husband and I decided to buy a single serving coffee maker (Keurig) for our anniversary. It is a luxury item as far as I'm concerned, yet I was able to justify the purchase by coming up with a way to recycle the k-cups. I have been avoiding this post because I didn't want it to be a "responsibility brag," but after a discussion my husband had with some friends last week, I realized that publishing our efforts could provide a solution for some people that are looking into purchasing these convenient little machines.

If you need any back story on the landfill problem, you can watch a short CNBC video here. Just remember to please come back to Do that. to read the rest of the post!

As a nerdly student of home economics, I have actually timed the following process. I took my time so that it could be considered an average person's timing, rather than whipping through the process in order to set a k-cup dis-assembly record. In the amount of time it takes to wait for your cup of coffee, you can strip the cup you removed from the machine!

1) Begin by making sure the k-cup you're about to strip has cooled down. We usually stack them by the sink so that I remember to strip them before they pile up too high. Note the convenient little hole that the Keurig machine makes in the cup foil. (The cups stacked on the right have been emptied and are ready for the recycling bin.)

2) Here's where you get dirty for a moment... Stick your finger in the hole and pull the foil up. You'll have a nice little tab that helps you remove the foil entirely by pulling outward around the rim.

3) Put the foil aside and dump your coffee into the compost (some people can recycle the foil, and others will have to throw it away). You end up with a bit of coffee and the paper filter that is glued inside the cup.

4) Grab the paper filter and pull it outward, focusing on one side, then pulling around just like you did with the foil. You can put that paper filter into the compost with the rest of the coffee.

5) Average 20 seconds per cup and you've got stripped k-cups ready for recycling, coffee grounds for your compost (or your potting soil), and a little less guilt when you hit that single serving coffee button! 

For the record, I haven't researched the internet to see if anyone else is doing this yet. Please feel free to leave a comment if you've found other bloggers or news articles on this topic.