Unless I’m really in a bind, I’m pretty good about not buying bottled water anymore. I have a whole shelf of travel bottles that my family and I use when we’re out and about, and, since I’m trying to make an effort to drink my 8-plus glasses a day, I’ve always got a giant tumbler by my side as I’m working or running errands.
But when we do have a thirst emergency and have to break down and buy a bottle, I always try to reuse it however I can. It ends up cut open to be used as a vessel for a painting project, or by the sink to fill for plants as I’m getting hot water, or I even refill them to drink from once or twice, although this is not recommended for health reasons.
Still, doing my little part seems like a drop in the ocean when I go to events and see the huge volume of plastic bottles of water and other beverages being purchased and discarded — whether in the trash or in the recycling bin. Wouldn’t it be great if these quantities of bottles could be repurposed? I’ve seen some great projects that make use of a bunch of bottles. Here are some of my favorites:
- An eco-hotel in Fiji has made a boat entirely from plastic bottles, a layer of foam for increased buoyancy, and plastic sheeting. Want to make your own? Instructables has directions to make an open-topped kayak from bottles.
- Ever noticed the pretty blossom design on the base of the water bottle? One creative designer has – she cuts the bottoms off and strings them together to make transparent room-divided curtains. She includes instructions so you can try it yourself.
- British designer Michelle Brand uses those same bottle-bottom blossoms to make strings of flower lights with LED bulbs as well. She also uses them to make cascading chandeliers.
- You’d need a LOT of bottles to make them, but I’ve even come across plastic bottle greenhouses. You can find various instructions and examples online, and one intrepid soul even built a solar water heater from plastic bottles. If you want to make your own greenhouse, you can purchase a book with instructions
- I’d love to lounge in this plastic bottle chair made by designer Pawel Grunert, or these beanbags filled with shredded plastic bottle caps made by Hong Kong company Kacama, which solves a big disposal problem in places where caps are not accepted for recycling.
- At a 2010 event, a Peace Corps volunteer showcased how plastic bottles filled with trash (to make them opaque) can be used to build an entire building. Laura Kutner also used this unique building material to build a schoolhouse in Guatemala.