plastic bottle

5 of the Best Ways to Upcycle Your Old Plastic Bottles

Most of us know the “three R’s” of waste management: reduce, reuse, and recycle. While we find it easy to reduce the amount of waste that we produce and recycle items that we no longer have any use for, it is often more difficult for us to imagine the various ways in which we can reuse our waste. However, with a little imagination, anyone can upcycle and breathe new life into items that they would normally dispose of.

Some of the most versatile items that you can reuse are  plastic bottles. Capable of becoming everything from useful garden tools to beautiful decorations, these items will enable you to protect the environment while engaging in fun DIY projects. Read on to explore some of the best ways that you can upcycle your old plastic bottles.

  1. Bird feeder

bottle bird feeder
Image by Tony Alter | Flickr

You can easily turn old, plastic bottles into simple bird feeders for your backyard. With this upcycling project, you will have the opportunity to both protect the environment and support your local ecosystem.

To make a bird feeder, take a used soda or water bottle and drill a few pairs of holes through the sides. These holes will allow you to incorporate perches into your feeder that birds can sit on while eating. Wooden spoons make particularly effective resting places because they can also hold the seeds from the feeder. As such, you should make the holes large enough for the seeds to fall through and land in the well of the spoon. To hang the feeder, you need only drill a hook into the bottle cap and tie it up with string.

  1. Organizers

The natural shape of plastic bottles makes them excellent materials to use as organizers. If you have empty soda bottles lying around the house, then you can turn them into cute-yet-practical containers to help you tidy up your work area. Simply cut the bottoms off of the bottles and paint them in your desired color. To add an extra decorative flair and protect against any jagged pieces of plastic, you should line the cut edges with colorful felt. Once completed, these upcycled bottle ends can hold all your desk necessities, from rubber bands to paper clips.

Using a similar method, you can turn old soda bottles into a unique jewelry organizer. Begin by removing the bottoms from several bottles and drilling small holes in the middle of them so that you can thread a 12-inch rod through them. During assembly, invert one of the bottle pieces and attach it to the rod so that you will have a firm base for your organizer. Then, you simply attach each of the other bottle bases to the rod using nuts and washers. This will create an elegant floating stand for all your earrings, rings, and necklaces.

  1. Jewelry

plastic jewelry
Image by Mary Anne Enriquez | Flickr

You can even upcycle used plastic bottles into pieces of jewelry. To do so, use a pair of scissors to cut thin rings out of the body of the bottle. These pieces may have jagged edges, so you should smooth them down by carefully rubbing them against an iron set to medium heat. Once prepped, your DIY bracelets will be ready for decorating. One of the easiest ways to spruce them up is with colorful nail polish.

Another clever way to reuse your plastic bottles is to transform them into beads. You start by cutting your bottle into several thin strips and coloring each one in different shades of permanent marker. Then, using needle-nosed pliers, wrap the strips into small coils and hold them in place while you warm them using a heat gun. This will shrink the plastic and make it hold its cylindrical shape, creating beautiful beads that you can use to make all different kinds of jewelry.

  1. Curtains

One of the most artistic ways to upcycle empty plastic bottles is to turn them into curtains. This is the perfect project if you have many bottles to reuse.

To start, you’ll need to cut out the delicate flower-like shapes on the bottom of the bottles. You’ll then connect all the bottle bases together with thin pieces of string. Be sure to leave an inch or two of space around each bottle piece to make the flowers appear to be suspended in midair once you hang them.

Depending on your own style, you can hang them in any pattern you wish and even incorporate decorative elements such as beads into your design. Your completed curtains can also serve as a beautiful, sustainable room divider or decorative screen.

  1. Vertical garden

Though it is already a green activity, gardening can reach a whole new level of sustainability when you use upcycled plastic bottles as plant holders. Simply place a bottle on its side and cut out a panel of the plastic so you can fit soil inside and provide your seeds with enough space to grow. You can easily string together a series of these planters and create a vertical, hanging garden.

You can also stack bottle planters vertically and interlock them by cutting holes in their bases. If you hang the bottles so that their tops face downward, you can create holes in the caps to encourage better soil drainage.

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