Every day, about 50 million plastic bottles are thrown away in the United States. That’s enough to leave a trail from New York City to San Francisco and back again. About 80% of all plastic bottles that are thrown away end up in a landfill.
Many people these days do their part by drinking filtered water from reusable containers instead of drinking bottled water. Some people make their own cleaners, laundry detergent and personal care products that they store in reusable containers, but that’s not always a realistic solution for everyone. The next time you find yourself with empty plastic bottles to throw away, stop for a minute and consider one of these 30 ways to reuse or recycle your plastic bottles- you’ll reduce a bit of the pressure on our planet and you may even save yourself some money!
Here are 28 ways to reuse & recycle your empty plastic bottles:
1. Try This No-Sew Zipper Case
Featured on Make It Love It, this no-sew zipper case is made from plastic water bottles or plastic soda bottles. You can use it to store pens, pencils, markers, crayons and more!
2. Recycle Plastic Bottles Into A Jewelry Tree
Using a knife or sharp scissors, cut several plastic bottles just above the base. Punch a hole in the middle and secure them into a tree shape with a few nuts and bolts from the garage or hardware store. This will make a perfect jewelry tree for your small accessories. Be sure to recycle the the plastic you didn’t use!
3. Make a Recycled Plastic Pencil Cup
Want to go green at the office? Well maybe you should, because office buildings are a leading contributor to the rapid filling of landfills. Depending on how creative you want to be, you can make a container to hold your writing implements. Don’t miss out on your chances to show off your environmental side at work.
4. Start an Herb Garden
This project gets you extra green points. You can grow herbs and other plants indoor in recycled plastic bottles when you convert the plastic bottles into SIPs or Sub Irrigated Planters. With access to a constant supply of water and oxygen, the old adage of “the bigger the bot, the bigger the plan,” no longer applies! This is also a great activity to do with kids! You’ll find instructions and materials needed for this project here.
5. Create a Plastic Bottle Necklace
Are you short on cash, but still in need of jewelry to match an outfit for a night out on the town? This project may be for the more crafty among us, but you’ll be rewarded with a great statement or conversation piece in the end. Check out this step by step guide to upcycling a plastic bottle into a beautiful necklace.
6. Reuse Coffee Creamer Containers for Grab-n-Go Snack Storage
If you have small children, recycling coffee creamer bottles into snack containers makes it easy to grab and go! No fumbling with plastic baggies (which are also terrible for the environment) or looking for a lid that matches the plastic storage container you selected. This is an easy one – just rinse out and remove the label.
7. Make Cute Planters
If you’re interested in a more aesthetically pleasing way to store your indoor plants, you can turn your plastic bottle planters into whimsical creations like these adorable cat planters. Detailed instructions, while not in English (don’t worry there are plenty of pictures), are here.
8. Craft a Whimsical Flower Curtain
This might be a little much for a traditional indoor space, but this dazzling flower curtain made from upcycled plastic soda bottles can definitely pretty up any outdoor patio or seating area. All you need to do is cut off the bottoms of clear plastic bottles and string them together with fishing line, and viola! You can also slip the plastic flowers around LED or outdoor lights for a more dramatic look.
9. Dazzle Guests With A Repurposed Plastic Napkin Ring
No one will ever guess this napkin ring was once a sad, empty plastic bottle. If you are in to entertaining guests, this project will certainly make your next party a hit, since you can even make matching wine markers. You’ll need a few supplies for this one, such as a candle, sharp scissors and some acrylic paints (probably not a good project to try with the kids). Full instructions here.
10. Craft a Table Lamp from Plastic Bottle Caps
This modern light fixture would look great in a teenager’s room or in a recreation room. All you’ll need is a light socket, quite a few plastic bottle caps and a hot glue gun.
11. Make an Animal Lamp From a Recycled Detergent Bottle
This creative upcycle would make a great addition to a playroom. There aren’t any instructions for this one, so consider it inspiration for your own detergent lamp creation!
12. Turn Your Kid Into a Superhero With a Plastic Bottle Jet Pack
If you’re in need a of a simple, last-minute Halloween costume idea, this is it. You can even make a matching one for yourself! With a little paint and some tissue paper, this recycled plastic bottle project can be completed in a short amount of time. Visit the Doodlecraft blog for a step-by-step guide on how to create a plastic bottle jet pack.
13. Make Race Cars from Old Detergent Bottles
You’ll need to save some extra caps for the wheels, but these plastic cars will be a hit with your young ones. You can even have your kids decorate them after they are assembled.
14. Upcycle A Watering Can
Don’t pay for a plastic watering can again. Keep your empty laundry detergent bottle, drill or punch some holes in the cap and you’ve got yourself a new watering can. Feel free to remove the label so your neighbors don’t think you’re weird for pouring laundry detergent on your plants.
15. Instantly Make Beach Buckets From Detergent Bottles
Carefully trim the bottoms off of old plastic laundry detergent or fabric softener bottles and add then to your stash of beach toys. These handy tools are perfect for building sand sculptures and will keep the kids entertained for hours!
16. Turn a Milk Carton Into a Salt Spreader
This is a simple DIY solution to keep near your front stairs or walkway. Simply cut your milk carton so it becomes a scoop with a handle and keep it in the salt bag. Whenever you need to melt the ice from your steps, just scoop and throw! You can also use your upcycled milk carton scoop for potting soil when you begin gardening in the spring.
17. Make a DIY Piggy Bank
That old plastic bottle can start saving you money! Simply use it as a coin jar instead of throwing it away. Of course, it’s up to you if you want to convert it into a real piggy bank. There are a lot of options and you can get really creative with it. You can paint the entire bottle so the amount inside is a surprise or you can leave some transparency so you can see how your saving is progressing. If you’d like to create an actual bank in a pig, you can follow the tutorial here.
18. Organize Your Makeup In Repurposed Plastic Bottles
If you’ve got empty hand soap bottles laying around, then you can create these sensible storage containers for makeup brushes, eye pencils, lip liner, lip stick and more. You’ll need an old iron to smooth out the edge (not one you use on clothes currently) and some acrylic paints if you want to decorate them. You can even use them for cotton balls, q-tips and your tooth brushes in the bathroom. If you need further instructions, you’ll need to translate them to English in your browser here.
19. Turn a Lotion Bottle Into a Charging Dock
It’s never fun to have phones and cords laying around all over the place. This clever DIY charging dock let’s you charge your phone without creating an eye-sore in the room. If such things don’t bother you, then you can skip this one, but we thought the lotion bottle turned phone dock was pretty clever. Learn how to make this recycled cell phone charging dock at Make It Love It.
20. Craft An Ottoman From Plastic Soda Bottles
The key to upcycling your plastic bottles into an ottoman, is to collect several of plastic bottles of the same size. Let’s be honest, plastic bottles may not be that comfortable, so be sure to choose comfy padding. You can get creative with the fabric you choose to cover the plastic bottles, so you know the ottoman will match your decor and style! Here you’ll find a pretty detailed tutorial on how to make an ottoman from plastic bottles.
21. Make A Kid’s Room A Little Less Scary With This Honey Bear Bottle Lamp
If you’ve ever felt guilty about throwing away a plastic bottle that looks like a teddy bear, we have a project for you! All you need is a little paint and a compact fluorescent light with a cord. Learn how to recycle your honey bottles into this recycled honey bear bottle lamp at The Pink Doormat.
22. Turn Trash Into A Trash Can
Make a statement about recycling plastic, my making a recycling bin out of plastic bottles. This is the greenest trash can in the game and you can make it exactly the size you need. Kill to birds with one stone, with this simple do-it-yourself project!
23. Turn 2-Liter Bottles Into an Upcycled DIY Water Filter
Just add water and a store-bought filter, and you’ve got a nice little water purifier for your desk at the office or for a camping trip. You can follow the image below for assembly instructions.
24. Make a DIY Sprinkler With A Plastic Bottle And Some Pens
In addition to repurposing a plastic bottle that otherwise was headed for the landfill, you can recycle old ballpoint pens that no longer work, too, with this DIY sprinkler project. This method is a bit more effective than simply poking holes in a 2-liter bottle. For step-by-step instructions visit Curbly. And remember not to water your lawn or plants during the middle of the day – you’ll conserve more water when you water in the mornings and evenings.
25. Build A Broom For Your Outdoor Spaces
You may not believe it, but you can make an even more effective broom with a plastic bottle. This was already featured in our upcycling garbage blog, but it is so useful, we had to feature it again. Most plastic bottle brooms are made with a 2 liter bottle, but you can make a smaller sweeper for the basement or smaller, hard to reach places. Follow this link for detailed instructions.
26. Turn Old Shampoo Bottles Into Airplanes
Your kids will love playing with these recycled bottle planes during bath time. The instructions for these are also not in English (recycling is global!), but the images show all the steps to create these upcycled plastic bottle airplanes.
27. Create An Upcycled Hanging Lamp
This ingenious idea is tried and tested and you can get a complete walk-through to do it yourself here. You’ll need a compact fluorescent light that is attached to a cable along with glue, a sharp knife and pliers.
28. Turn Leftover Soda Bottles Into a Vertical Garden
This concept was created by Brazilian design firm Rosenbaum, who executed this recycling project flawlessly. If you have a good wall and are looking to add more green to your outdoor space, this is a great project to try. In addition to soda bottles, you’ll need clothesline, twine or picture wire. Check out instructions here.
Do you have clever plastic bottle recycling ideas or projects not listed above? Share them in the comments and add them to our list!