No matter how much I try to avoid plastic, I seem to always end up with at least one or two plastic bottles in my recycle bin. Sometime it’s a juice bottle, sometimes it held dish or laundry soap.
Here in the U.S., we generated 31 million tons of plastic waste in 2010 alone. That is a lot of empty soap and juice bottles! Of course, not all of that waste was plastic bottles, but anything we can do to reduce our plastic waste is going to help put a dent in that number, since 14 million tons of that waste was from packaging such as plastic bottles.
But, what about recycling plastic?
If you can’t avoid plastic, you can at least feel good about tossing that bottle in the recycle bin, right? Well…yes and no.
The trouble with plastic recycling is that it’s very inefficient. When you recycle plastic, you always end up with a lower-grade plastic. It’s more like downcycling than recycling. That’s why reusing your plastic is so important, if you can’t avoid the stuff. That trip to the recycle center extends plastic’s life, but it’s still landfill bound eventually, where it won’t break down for centuries. No good at all!
Rather than send your used plastic bottles through the waste stream, you can reuse plastic bottles in all sorts of fun, crafty ways! Here are some ideas to get you started.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by frankh
You can use your crafty skills to repurpose those plastic bottles into cute home and garden accessories. From lighting to window treatments, there are lots of cute ways to divert that waste from the bin!
1. Make plastic bottle lights. You can whip up a string of plastic bottle lights, like in the photo above. Just use a small drill bit to drill holes in the bottoms of the bottles, stick an LED Christmas light through each one, and hang! If you need to make it more secure, you can use a little hot glue to hold the bottles in place.
2. Create a chandelier. Got a big stash of empty bottles? Over at Dollar Store Crafts, Heather shows you how to turn them into a chandelier!
3. Upcycled vases. Wrap those empty bottles up and turn them into sweet vases for the table. You can use raffia, like she did at Zakka Life, or try cutting up scrap fabric into super skinny strips to up the recycled content even more.
4. Make a milk jug shade. If you have some plastic jugs handy, you can cut them up to create a mod window shade. Check out how over at Mother Earth News.
5. Whip up a hummingbird feeder. Turn an old juice jug into a homemade hummingbird feeder in a few simple steps!
6. Grow some food. Mike at Urban Organic Gardener shows you how to transform old plastic bottles into upside down herb planters.
From holiday decor to toys and organization, there are lots of ways to make those plastic bottles work for you, rather than sending them to the recycling center or the landfill.
7. Bottle purses. The bottoms of those two-liter soda bottles are perfect for making little clam shell purses. How sweet!
8. A repurposed ghost. Save an old juice jug, and this Halloween, you can transform it into a spooky (but very cute!) ghost.
9. Make an Easter basket. Instead of plastic Easter grass, you can use shredded paper from the recycle bin.
10. Amuse the wee ones. Turn an old plastic bottle into a discovery bottle to keep your kiddos occupied. They can even help fill the bottles up!
11. Get organized. Over at CRAFT, you can learn how to turn empty milk jugs into a craft supply organizing station.
Don’t forget those bottle caps! You can’t recycled them in most cities, but you can reuse them in all kinds of fun craft projects. Here are just a few.
12. Bottle cap art. Get inspired! You can create your own rubbish rainbow by collecting plastic bottle caps. Just grab your hot glue gun and arrange them artfully on a painted piece of scrap cardboard.
13. Make pincushions. How sweet are these miniature pincushions made from reclaimed plastic bottle caps?
14. Spin it! Get the kids, and spend a crafternoon turning old plastic bottle caps into tops that really spin.
15. Bottle cap ladybugs. This is another fun one to do with kids. Get crafty, and transform reclaimed plastic bottle caps into cute little ladybug toys.
I bet that you guys have done some cool craft projects with reclaimed plastic bottles or plastic bottle caps, so spill it! What’s your favorite way to reuse plastic bottles?