seedlings planted in used K-cups

Used K-Cups are perfect for starting seeds. You can even throw in some used coffee grounds. (Photo: FreshEggsDaily)

Not willing to give up your single-use coffee maker but feeling bad about the ever-growing pile of pods? You can't recycle them, and they're too small to use as cups at your next picnic.

There are certainly plenty of them. In 2013, Green Mountain made enough K-Cups to circle the equator 10.5 million times, and only 5 percent of those produced were recyclable. Even John Sylvan, creator of the Keurig machine, recently admitted that he never envisioned his invention would generate so much waste.

Fortunately, there are plenty of crafty people online who have come up with amazing ways to repurpose these infamous plastic pods. Here are just a handful of environmentally conscious ways you can give your K-Cups a new life.

lacing activity made from reusing K-Cups

Photo: Happy Hooligans

1. Lacing activity

Thread colorful shoelaces through the pods and help little fingers work on fine-motor skills.

Paint stamping with a used K-Cup2. Paint stamping

Set out several shallow bowls of washable paint and use a K-cup to let the kids stamp circles on paper in lots of fun designs. They can make patterns or just artsy creations.

3. Seed starters

With a hole in the bottom for drainage and a filter to keep the soil in, K-Cups are perfect to plant seeds. Spoon in a little soil, add a couple seeds and get ready for your garden to grow. (You can even recycle a pinch of used coffee grounds in the soil.)

4. Big ice cubes

Make unique, oversized ice for your lemonade carafes or water pitchers by freezing plain or flavored water in an array of clean pods. Add chopped-up pieces of fruit for extra color and pizzazz.

5. Tiny flower pot

Make itty-bitty flower pots for your child's favorite dolls by decorating several cups with stickers, markers or washable paint, as shown in the video above. These could also double as some pretty party favors or table decorations. Use real flowers, artificial ones or make some out of tissue paper.

6. Toothpick holder

Decorate the pod however you like — beads, lace, fabric, paper — and fill it with toothpicks for a snazzy tabletop toothpick presentation.

confetti popper made from used K-cup coffee pod7. Confetti poppers

Cut out the bottom of a pod, slip on half a knotted balloon and scoop in some homemade confetti. You've just whipped up a fun way to spread confetti all over your house, thanks to the handy balloon. Tiny kids will love popping these suckers, and your vacuum will get an amazing workout.

8. Organizer bins

From paper clips and thumb tacks to Legos and earrings, little things can be sorted and stored in these petite pods. Decorate them however you like or just leave them plain if you're going to tuck them away inside a cabinet or a drawer.

3D animals made from used K-Cup coffee pods

Photo: Keurig

9. 3-D animals

For your nature-loving kiddies, draw creatures on colorful construction or patterned paper and then glue them to the sides of the cup. You can have a forest full of critters in one rainy day.

snowflake frame ornament made by reusing K cup10. Snowflake frame ornament

Decorate your tree with these snowy ornament concoctions featuring your favorite photos, some beads and sparkly paint. Cut out patterns with a snowflake hole punch and you have an easy, festive ornament.

11. K-popsicles

After plugging up the hole with a dab of hot glue on the bottom, fill the cup with your favorite popsicle recipe. Add a stick and freeze.

12. String lights

Take a strand of white holiday lights, some colored tissue paper and a slew of empty cups and you can make a festive string of fun party lights as shown in the video above.

sandals with decors made from K-cup filters13. Sandal decor

This one requires a more advanced degree of craftiness. Jazz up a pair of simple flip-flops with embellishments made just from the filters inside of used K-cups. You'll also need some embroidery floss and a shiny stone or two. The results are very cool and colorful. You'll likely need specific directions, found here.

14. Christmas crafts

Remember, anything you can do with a lot of big cups, you can also do with a whole bunch of little teeny cups. Follow the instructions in the the video above, and you can whip up a miniature version of a wreath or Christmas tree in no time.

Pilgrim hat made out of K-cup15. Pilgrim hat place cards

A little crafting turns these plastic cups into Pilgrim hat treat holders or even place cards for your big Thanksgiving feast. With a little twist, you also can turn them into an elf's hat or a leprechaun's topper.

16. Math fun

Write numbers on each cup with a permanent marker and use them to help kids with math skills. Use them for counting and to help kids sort even and odd numbers. Do the same with the letters of the alphabet and help kids with spelling, vowels and word recognition.

Frankenstein Halloween decorations made from using K-cups

Photo: Celeb Baby Laundry

17. Frankenstein treat holders

Green spray paint, googly eyes, beads and a permanent marker transform everyday cups into friendly monsters. Fill them with candy corn, popcorn or other tiny treats for your favorite Halloween trick-or-treaters.

18. Glow dome

light ball made out of recycled K-CupsPinterest user Linda Pond says this awe-inspiring creation takes 71 clean and empty K-Cups. You staple them together with a light in each cup and then hang the dome on the wall as accent lighting. For winter, you can easily turn this into a snowman by adding navy or black K-Cups for eyes, nose and mouth. Top it off with a Santa hat for the full effect.

19. Play toys

To make K-Cups fun for little tykes in the tub or the sandbox, all you have to do is wash them. They're the perfect size for scooping and the little hole in the bottom will make it fun for pouring and dripping.

20. Wind gauge

wind gauge made from recycled k-cupsIt's time for a science lesson with a little help from your discarded coffee cups. Two pods, a straw and a pencil can be put to good use teaching kids how the wind blows. Keep your wind gauge outside your window so you can see when the weather changes.

Related on MNN:

Inset photos:

paint stamping: Keurig

confetti popper: The TipToe Fairy

snowflake ornament: Make it Easy Crafts

sandals: Shades of Tangerine

Pilgrim hat: DtsArt Blog

glow dome: Linda Pond/Pinterest

wind gauge: Practips

Mary Jo DiLonardo Mary Jo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.