Monday, October 18, 2010

10 Ways to Reuse Plastic Bottles

I never (ok, only rarely) buy bottles of soda, juice, and water, but I know many that go through these very quickly. Plastic is a non renewable resource (being that it is made from crude oil) and doesn't decompose, so it ends up sitting in landfills indefinitely. Communal recycling programs are a good alternative to the dump, but I prefer to use plastic bottles for my own benefit, eliminating the need for to spend money on things around the house. (Because I don't usually buy things that come in bottles, I usually ask my friends to save me some bottles when I need them, or I take them out of the communal bottle recycling and wash them well.)

Without further ado, here's:

10 Ways to Reuse Plastic Bottles

1. Cut the neck off the bottle and use as a funnel. Wide necked bottles can even be used as a canning funnel, I suppose, being as their opening is much larger than the hole in most funnels.

2. Poke a small hole in the cap of the bottle, fill it with water, and screw shut. Turn this upside down and bury the bottle in the ground neck down, near some plants. This will work as a drip irrigation system for when you can't water the plants, like when you go on vacation.

3. Ever buy things in a "help yourself store", where things are in big sacks from which you scoop out food into bags, like spices, grains, beans, etc? Those bags are always spilling when I'm trying to pour from them, and I can never seem to find a twist-tie to keep them closed. Cut off the tops of bottles, thread the end of the bag through the bottle top and open up the bag like a flower. With the bottle cap, close the top of the bottle, trapping the bag within. To use, simply untwist cover and pour out of the bag's small opening.

Oatmeal in a bag with a funky screw cover.
This especially works for bags of pasta or rice that don't open nicely or close easily and tend to spill all over the cupboard. Transfer the food into another plastic bag, use this method to close it, and voila- you have a spill proof food container for dirt cheap.

4. Make a mini greenhouse/terrarium for small plants. If you want to be able to cut back on the amount you water your plants, cut the cover off a soda bottle, flip it over, and place over small plants. This will make the plants a little warmer, helping them survive cool weather. This also will stop the water from evaporating out, allowing it to drip back down the sides and water the plants again.

5. Make weights. Fill bottles with water, attack to a broomstick, and use as weights in your "gym at home".

6. Make a disposable cup dispenser. Cut off both ends of a narrower large bottle, as close to the cover of the bottle as possible. Flip the bottle over and put disposable cups in the bottle, right side up. Try to pull the disposable cup through the opening. If they don't fit, cut the opening a bit bigger until you can get the bottom of the cup through. Cut a few small slits around the sides to help ease the cups out. You want the opening big enough to be able to pull out the cups, but small enough that they don't fall out.
Once you get the opening the size you want it, attach it to wherever you want it to go. This can be with tape, sticky velcro, or by punching holes into the bottle and attaching it either with wire, or hooking it onto a nail/screw.
Our nifty thrifty cup dispenser.
(FYI, we don't typically purchase disposable cups. These are disposable cups leftover from Lee's party 1.5 months back.)

7. Use as temporary pitchers for homemade drinks. If you ever are hosting guests or throwing a party and need lots of containers to hold drinks, instead of purchasing or borrowing a lot of pitchers, make your drinks (iced tea, lemonade, orangeade from freshly squeezed oranges from the reduced rack, etc) and pour them into the bottles for easy serving.

8. Bowling! 10 bottles instead of pins, and instead of a bowling ball, use a regular ball (like the dodge-ball type). Go ahead and have fun with this on a rainy day when you're cooped up at home.

9. Ice packs. When traveling, instead of bringing regular ice packs to keep your cooler chilled, use frozen water bottles. When these defrost, you'll have delicious cold water to drink to keep yourself hydrated.

10. Fill with beans, close, and give to your child to use as a rattle.

What do you do to reuse plastic bottles? Or do they just go straight in the trash or recycling bin at your house?

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