Plastic pollution occurs when plastic items accumulate in our environment, negatively impacting wildlife, nature and even humans. Plastics bottles are one of the most common packaging materials used due to their durability and inexpensiveness. Yet, its chemical structure makes it slow to degrade. Here are 30 fabulous ideas for you to reuse plastic bottles.
What happens if you trash your plastic items irresponsibly?
Plastic pollution has become a worrisome issue globally. The increasing production of single-use plastic items does not match the low recycling rate. This issue is particularly alarming in developing Asian and other under-developed countries such as Africa. Their system for garbage collection is either not efficient or does not exist at all. The plastic materials in developed countries are also not handled or collected to be recycled properly.
Most plastic materials are thrown irresponsibly, ending up in the ocean. Since plastics do not biodegrade, they eventually break down into tiny pieces and threaten marine life. Animals that get entangled by plastic items may drown or suffocate.
Marine life can also become intoxicated from the chemical components that make up plastic. The toxins then enter the food chain and threaten human health when we eat them. They can lead to birth defects, cancers, childhood developments problems, and immune system issues.
What is plastic recycling?
Plastics are recycled in a 2-stages process:
- They are sorted by polymer type. A manual sort is done to remove all contaminants.
- After that, the plastic goes through a shredding or melting process to form pellets, which are then moulded to new products.
The recycling process is influenced by local regulations, price, and market demand. The way the products were used and the condition in which they were disposed of are vital in determining the quality and value of recycled plastic. The quality of the plastics being recycled also decreases each time it is processed.
There are 7 categories of plastics, which include
- Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE) or (PET) – Most common type of plastic. Examples are plastic bottles or food containers
- High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) – More sturdy than PETE. Examples include detergent bottles, helmets, toys
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – Most versatile and common plastic type. For example, waste and water pipes
- Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) – Low density plastic, less strong compared to HDPE. Examples are containers and plastic trash bags
- Polypropylene (PP) – Most common in injection molding. Examples include surgical tools and bottle caps
- Polystyrene (PS) – Disposable plastic containers that rarely recycled due to costly and energy consuming
- Other – Anything other than those listed in no 1 to 6 above and can be a combination of them or other plastics that are less used. They are generally not recycled and also include non-petrochemical plastics like polymers or bioplastics.
Benefits of reusing plastic bottles
Recycling is more expensive and takes a longer processing time than reusing plastic items. By reusing plastic bottles, you can help in
- Conserving energy – Reuse of plastic bottles leads to less demand for the production of new bottles using virgin petroleum resin.
- Reduce emission of greenhouse gases and pollution – Production of plastic bottles emits greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Reusing bottles helps to reduce the need to produce them, thus reducing pollution.
- More landfill space – When you reuse plastic bottles instead of dumping them into landfills, space is saved for other purposes.
- Waste reduction and clean environment – By reusing bottles, plastic waste can be reduced as you will repurpose them rather than throwing them out. There will be less litter clogging waterways or ending up in the ocean.
Ways to reuse plastic bottles
There are many creative ways to reuse or revamp the empty plastic bottles you have at home.
Floral spring lights
Revamp your home with these beautiful spring lights. You don’t need much skills for this. Simply cut and paint various shapes of flowers from bottles (with their caps attached) to fit around the string of lights.
These easy to make spirals only need limited supplies. All you need are water bottles, colourful permanent markers, and scissors. Make coloured stripes on dried empty bottles using markers and cut the flat bottom of the bottle out. Then, cut along the bottle in a circular manner, from the bottom to the top to create a spiral shape. Find a stick to hang them from and let the spiral bounce in the breeze.
These dandelion lanterns are gorgeous, aren’t they? Perfect for a romantic date night. You can search and print any design you want online. Cut the shapes out using an X-acto knife and gently curl the cuts up to make them look dimensional. Cut the top of the bottle out and paste the paper into the plastic bottle. To make it light up, drop string lights or a LED candle into the bottle.
Cherry blossom paint stamp
Very simple craft idea for you to kill boredom. The bottom of the soda bottle looks just like the five petals of cherry blossom, don’t you think so? Start by drawing a branch using black paint. When it’s dried, you can start to dip and stamp the bottom of the soda bottle on the paper to create a cherry blossom art.
I bet you don’t expect the bottom of the soda bottle to look so elegant. You can just cut the bottoms out and connect them together using fishing lines. These flower fall decor can be used as a curtain, room divider, canopy, or window screen.
No-sew zipper stationery case
You will need two 20 oz. soda bottles, a zipper, and hot glue for this stationery case. Cut the bottom of one bottle and the top of another. Use hot glue to glue the zipper to both ends of the cut bottles and connect them together. You can now store your stationery and keep the place mess free.
DIY faucet extenders of any design or colour for your kids using empty lotion or shampoo bottles and spray paint. Remember to wash the bottles clean and just cut out the shape of the extenders. Then spray paint on them and let the paint dry before using.
Baskets for school supplies
Make various baskets from different bottles. You can put anything in it, from books to school supplies. You can also install handles for easy carrying.
To prevent your books from sticking together, you can arrange these book holders on the book shelf. Each of these serve as a divider so you can categorise your books based on themes. Since there is a wood panel as a base, they are very stable. Thus, you can also let them stand individually on the table top to store books.
Colour pencil organizers
Making colour pencil organizers can be a simple craft for the kids to do in school. This will keep the class organized and vibrant by making them colour-coded.
Simple and cheap. Make a watering can for your plants using cleaned, empty laundry detergent containers. Just punch or drill some holes in the cap. Let your kids fill the bottle with water and start watering your plants. Make sure you empty them after using to avoid mosquitoes from breeding.
Why buy when you can make your own broom? The step-by-step guide with pictures makes it easy for you. But you will need 20 bottles of 2L PET bottles for this broom! Start collecting now.
You can use this scoop fertilizers for your plants or even pick up your dog poop in the garden. Draw the shape of a scooper on an empty milk carton and cut accordingly.
This vertical garden doesn’t take up much space while creating a classy atmosphere at the narrow walkway of the house with soda bottles. Now you can plant any herbs you want.
Let the kids dance around the sprinkler during summer to cool down. You can make this sprinkler out of a clean 2-litre soda bottle and swivel hose adapter. Just poke 8 holes using a push pin along one side of the bottle and widen the hole using a bamboo skewer. Then, attach to the garden hose. Turn on the water at a low pressure and slowly increase to see the spraying effect.
Not only saving money on the materials, but you can also save money in this piggy bank. All you need is an empty plastic bottle, coloured papers, wooden beads, glue, knife, and hole punch. Make a 2cm wide hole for the coin slot. You can glue the coloured papers to form the body of the piggy and make its snout and eyes using a hole punch. Next, glue the wooden beads to the bottom of the bottle as legs. The piggy bank is now ready to be used.
You can use a lotion bottle to transform it into a charging dock holder. Remember to wash it clean and air dry. Compare it to your phone’s size to determine how high you want it to be. Draw and cut a curved shape on the upper back of the bottle, then smooth out the edges with sandpaper. You can finish by spray painting the holder for speed and convenience. But in the picture, a piece of fabric is glued to the bottle as the finishing touch.
Make beautiful jewellery stand with a clear view at a minimal cost. It doesn’t take you long as well. Insert a long metal rod through the cut bottoms of soda bottles and you can start organizing your beautiful jewelleries.
Turn the old bottles into a new magazine rack with individual compartments to allow you to sort your magazines. Just cut away the top, tape around the edges, and mount them on the wall. You can also use it for newspapers or letters.
Plastic woven basket
Challenge yourself to weave if you have free time. Just cut the plastic bottles into strips and weave them. These plastic woven baskets will come in handy at home to store anything you want. They are more durable than paper woven baskets and may even have resale value.
Teach your children to reuse plastic bottles through this fun jet pack project. Let them fly and soar with the jet pack. This will keep them entertained for a long time.
Make airplanes by reusing shampoo bottles and let your kids play with them anywhere, even in the bathroom. They can fill the bottle up with water and spray it out afterwards. Let their imagination soar when creating their own airplanes. Just make sure you prepare enough variety of craft materials for them to cut and stick on the airplanes.
Simple toys can excite children. Show them how to turn laundry detergent bottles into toy cars. Simple activities like sticking the wheels on the bottle and pasting stickers together allows both of you to bond. This will also strike creativity in them to create more toys in the future using recyclable materials. It will save you money because you don’t have to buy new toys.
Bowling is everyone’s all time favourite. Play your own bowling game at home by collecting 10 empty bottles and label them with numbers 1 to 10. But you do need to search for a small ball for this game.
Rainbow bubble snakes
Kids will definitely love blowing colourful bubble snakes outdoors with recycled materials. DIY your own bubble blower by cutting the bottom of the bottle off and covering it with a sock using a rubber band. To make the bubbles, dip the sock into the coloured (food dye) soap solution and blow gently. Remind kids to blow the air out instead of sucking in to avoid eating bubbles.
Ways to reuse plastic bottle caps
This mosaic art will be a fun project to do with your family. Collect all the coloured caps of different sizes and be creative with them. You can use plywood as the base for the mosaic art and hot glue to secure the caps on it.
These toothbrush holders from the bottle caps are a no brainer.. Just stick the caps to the wall individually using velcro. You can switch new caps easily when they turn old or take them out for washing.
Plastic bag seal
Sealing a plastic bag using a plastic bottle cap is convenient, just like opening a bottle. This plastic bag seal is also cheaper than buying ziplock bags.
Make your own lip balm container using a bottle cap. Cut a piece out from the bottle to make its base and seal it with hot glue. You can fill it with coconut oil, vaseline or mix any one of the following with an old lipstick for a tinted lip balm.
You can make a lamp out of bottle caps but this little project requires patience. Other simple materials needed are a piece of pop can, socket, light bulb, and a hot glue gun.
We all play a vital role in reducing environmental impact and an easy way to contribute is to reuse plastic products. Plastic bottles are the most common and readily available plastic product that can be effortlessly used for repurpose. There are also a few alternatives to plastic bottles as well as plastic bag alternatives that consumers can consider using to join efforts in reducing plastic waste. While it might take some time to get used to, it’s not impossible to live a plastic free life.