Plastic bottles, what would we do without them? Lighter than glass we fill our recycling bins with dozens of them that have held everything from milk to soda, water to ketchup. Other than sending them away for recycling what can you do with them?
Quite a bit actually. After a through wash and making sure they are totally dry you can get to work organising everything from your kitchen cupboards to the nuts and bolts in the garage. Storage isn’t the only use for plastic bottles though. Necessity is the mother of invention and there’s a great deal we can learn from those who reuse and repurpose almost everything because they have no choice but to do so.
- Storage of dried foods such as rice and lentils. No more split bags creating more work sweeping out the cupboards. Use a funnel to fill the bottles with rice, lentils, quinoa and any other variety of grains you fancy.
- Wide necked ketchup bottles are great for storing nuts, bolts and screws and even nails. They are stronger than soda bottles making them ideal for garage or shed storage containers.
- Make a simple irrigation system. Heat up a metal skewer and make two holes in the bottle cap. Fill with water. There you go. This type of irrigation is common in hot countries where evaporation and water shortages are a problem. Dig a small hole in the soil and ‘plant’ the bottle cap down. The water will seep out keeping the roots moist and preventing evaporation. Much less water is needed than when you surface water with a hose as the water goes directly to where it’s needed.
- Make a row of small solar stills. Again those in hot countries have far less water security than we enjoy, every drop is precious in some parts of the world. To make a basic solar still cut the bottom third off the bottle. Make several cuts vertically in the upper section, four or five slits about two inches long. That’s it, you’re done. All that’s left to do is place a small container in the bottom holding some form of organic material, grass clippings, urine, salt water, whatever you have. Stand the container in the base. Carefully fit the large section inside the bottom section, the slits will allow you to slot the top into the bottom as they will overlap slightly. Stand the still in the sun and as it heats up the organic material will give up its moisture causing condensation on the inside of the bottle. This will run down the inside and collect in the base and this condensation is safe, clean drinking quality water.
- Make a wicked water collection system. As I said previously, water is far more precious in some areas than others and although rainwater is routinely collected across the globe the run off from roofs often goes literally straight down the drain when the water-butt is full, or simply drips off and soaks into the ground if drainage and butts are not available. Wick collection set-ups are quite ingenious in their simplicity. Strips of fabric are tied around stones to weigh them down and are laid in the grooves of any corrugated roof. The fabric extends down into the neck of a plastic bottle, which you will often see lined up in rows on a shelf a foot or so under the roof line. Rainwater soaks down the fabric and drips into the bottle saving it vanishing into the soil and being wasted.
Other people have suggested: cutting bottles off at the shoulder and using them as plant pots…cutting the bottle off at the shoulder 3/4 of the way around so the remaining plastic forms a hinge and using them to hold bits and bobs in the car (taped shut when filled I presume)…filling with sand or small stones and using as a doorstop or, and I would never have though of this, filling them with sand and using them as weights for fitness purposes.
I’m sure there are many more possible uses for plastic bottles, feel free to share your ideas with the rest of us, please leave a comment below.