Simple Ideas for Reusing Coconut Shells

Coconut shell basket

9 – 15 November 2009 is National Recycling Week (Australia) founded by Planet Ark in 1996.  This post is Sustainable Echo’s contribution to NRW.  It’s about finding another use for something otherwise destined for the dump: the coconut shell.

Recently I bought a whole coconut to make some coconut cookies.  Packaged shredded coconut sold in shops usually contains preservatives I try to avoid.  Opening and shredding a coconut is more work but it was worthwhile the effort.  The taste was great!  One half of the flesh was shredded finely for the cookies, the other half made into flakes and dried for homemade muesli.

How to open a coconut

There are several methods on how to crack open a coconut, but this was the simplest for me:

  1. Using a screwdriver, corkscrew or a metal skewer make holes in two out of three coconut “eyes”
  2. Drain the coconut water
  3. Wrap the coconut in a towel
  4. With a hammer tap around the coconut’s “equator” till the coconut opens.  If you need straight lines, use a hand saw.
  5. To release the flesh insert a butter knife between the flesh and the shell and break off small chunks
  6. Shred or slice  using a greater, V-slicer or similar

To store for later use, bake in oven on low temperature until dry to touch but still white.

What to do with coconut shells?

Coconut cookies have long disappeared, homemade muesli was delicious.  The two halves of the coconut shells were left outside to dry.  But, what to do with them?  In different countries different things are manufactured from them, eg. buttons, musical instruments, baskets, bird feeders, jewelry even briquettes for BBQ.

We had a brainstorming session the other day and the kids came up with these brilliant ideas:  one half become a basket for egg collection, the other a pot holder!  Both very simple to make.

The basked needed two holes drilled and a short length of ribbon (actually a fabric off-cut).  Done.  See the picture above.

The plant holder was even easier as it required only one hole to be drilled and screwed to the fence.  Fill with the soil and plant a seedling.

Coconut shell plant pot

For the plant holder we used the coconut shell half with the “eyes” for the drainage:

Coconut plant pot drainage

This is our way of reusing things around the house.  Do you have a tip on reusing coconut shells or any other reuse tip for everyday items usually destined for the rubbish tip?  Please share in the comments below.

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  1. Kieran says

    I think you cand rink the coconut water and it’s good for you instead of throwing it away
    I drink the young coconut water so I’d assume the mature or ripe coconut water would be good too as when I buy coconut milk it is from ripe coconuts and have water and the cream on top. It is a very nutritious water and shouldn’t be wasted full of trace minerals and ultra hydrating.
    I’ve heard of shredding it and putting it compost or the garden. I was thinking of making a small hole in them filling them with water and making a drip system….still int he works though.

    • Vesna says

      Thanks for your comment. Coconuts bought at the shop aren’t always the freshest – the water in some I bought wasn’t really tasting good.

  2. Elm says


    You may want to try ‘young coconuts’ if you can find them in your local store. I believe they are way better than a common coconut. They may look daunting to get into, but if you soak a young coconut in a pot of water for a few hours the outer husks peel off as easily as corn husks.

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