Fortunately, the plastic used to make fizzy drinks bottles (PET) is widely recycled. But we are trying to reduce our output, so this post will focus on alternative uses for them. And they are legion!
Sadly, bottle caps (PP) are less widely recycled. Many of the projects shared here include the caps, and I will look at some separate uses for them in a separate post.
In places without an electricity mains supply, drinks bottles have been used to provide indoor lighting, using the principle of refraction. In my native South Africa, this technique has made an enormous difference to children in informal housing settlements, struggling to complete homework by the light of a kerosene lamp (which is both unhealthy and dangerous). Obviously, in a wealthy country like the UK, the call for this lighting method isn’t particularly great. It also helps to have some sunlight to refract, and we know that there are times of the year when that is in short supply here. However, if you’re an outdoorsy, roughing-it type, you might find it useful. So here‘s how to make your own.
As a variation on the theme, simply strapping a headlamp to a drink bottle filled with water will create an instant lantern. As long as you remember to point the light inward towards the bottle, of course, so that it can be refracted! This works very well with milk bottles (HDPE) too.
Based on this concept, the ‘Liter of Light‘ project has transformed lives in some of the poorest parts of the world, as well as those hit by natural disaster.
The humble plastic bottle can also be pressed into service in your garden. They can be used for wall gardening (see picture), hydroponics, cloches, and seedling propagation. They can be pressed into service to keep the slugs away from your veggies, the wasps away from the outdoor living space, and the mozzies away from your blood. Do, however, bear in mind that traps for ‘baddie’ insects might also kill some of the good guys, so do weigh up the pros and cons before installing them willy-nilly.
They can even be used to build greenhouses (or summerhouses).
Like the lighting solution, this one might not have as much application to the UK as to some hotter climes. But feast your eyes on this brilliant use of recycled plastic bottles, a board, and the laws of thermodynamics, to make an air conditioner that uses no electricity.
This is a rather miscellaneous list of craft activities which involve plastic bottles:
- The plastic bottle Christmas tree
- Remembrance Day poppies
- Unusual gift packaging
- Pencil cases (no sewing required)
- Lampshades and mobiles
As you may know, plastic bottles formed part of the Madonna and child figures (see picture) made during the workshop I conducted in December. I have also seen extremely complex and sophisticated fairy villages made using plastic bottles as a base.
It seems, from the practical and functional to the whimsical and purely decorative, there is a use for these bottles.
Until next time.