Did you know that the average person in America throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic each year? That’s a lot! Fortunately, there is a wide variety of ways to recycle and reuse plastic materials, which means you can also help reduce the amount of plastic pollution in our environment. Here are seven ideas to get you started!

Use old plastic bottles or jars to house your favorite plants

Plastic bottles can be turned into plant pots that are both eco-friendly and stylish. All you need is a sharp knife, some soil, and a bit of imagination. Simply cut the top off of the bottle, make a few drainage holes in the bottom, fill with soil, and voilà! You’ve got yourself a new planter.

You can also use a plastic bottle as a vase by simply removing the bottom of the bottle and filling it with water. For a unique look, add some stones, shells, or marbles to the bottom, paint it, or get creative and decorate it as you wish!

And what about those old glass jars that you may have been tempted to throw away? All you need to do is clean and dry them, then add some rocks or gravel to the bottom for drainage. Once you’ve done that, fill the jar with potting soil and add your plant! These can make great desk or windowsill plants.

Create a watering can

Speaking of gardening, did you know that you can turn an old plastic bottle into a watering can? It is a great way to upcycle used water bottles, or any other that might seem suitable.

Simply remove the label, make a few small holes in the lid, and fill the bottle with water. You can also add a spout by cutting a hole in the side of the bottle near the bottom and inserting a small funnel. Now you’re ready to water your plants!

Make a bird feeder

Another great way to recycle plastic bottles is by turning them into bird feeders!

  • Cut the side of the bottle length-wise, leaving the bottom attached.
  • Poke a small hole near the point of the cone and thread a string through it.
  • Fill the bottle with birdseed, then screw on the lid.
  • Hang your new bird feeder from a tree or any other suitable location, and enjoy watching the birds!

You can do the same with an old peanut butter or jelly plastic jar, or you can find other ways of making bird feeders with plastic bottles simply by googling it. There are plenty of ideas out there!

Use a jar to store dried goods, like pasta or rice

Have an old pasta sauce jar that you’re about to throw away? Don’t! You can actually use it to store your dried goods, like pasta or rice.

Simply remove the label and give it a good wash (you may need to remove any lingering food smells with vinegar), then dry it thoroughly. Once it’s dry, you can fill it with your desired dried goods and screw on the lid. There you go! You’ve just saved yourself a trip to the store, and you’re helping the environment too.

Upcycle a lotion bottle into a charging dock

If you have an empty lotion or shampoo bottle, you can actually upcycle it into a charging dock for your smartphone! It’s a nice way to both decorate your space and keep your cords organized.

  • Remove the label and any stickers from the bottle.
  • Wash it out thoroughly and dry it completely.
  • Cut the bottom off of the bottle, then cut a slit length-wise up the side.
  • Cut a small hole on the other side of the bottle so you can hang it up on the wall.
  • Get creative and decorate it however you want!
  • Hang up your new charging dock and enjoy!

Organize your cables

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably got a jumble of cords and cables somewhere in your home. Why not use an empty plastic bottle to help organize them?

Just cut a slit down the side of the bottle, then thread the cord through it. You can even label the bottle so you know which cord goes where. This is a great way to recycle plastic bottles and keep your cords tidy simultaneously!

Turn plastic bottles into storage containers

Whether you’re looking for a place to store your pens and pencils or you need a container for your makeup brushes, an old plastic bottle can come in handy!

Just remove the label, cut it and wash it out thoroughly. Once it’s dry, you can fill it with whatever you need to store. You can even decorate the bottle if you want to add a personal touch.

Find more ways to recycle

As you may guess, there is a wide range of ways to recycle and reuse plastic bottles. These are just a few of the most popular or useful ones. If you want to take your recycling efforts to the next level, there are plenty of other ideas worth researching, such as:

  • Make a travel mug or a piggy bank
  • Make a picture frame
  • Create art with recycled plastic bottles
  • Make a trash can
  • Create a vertical garden
  • Create a magazine rack
  • Make a soap dispenser.

The possibilities are endless, so next time you’re about to throw away a plastic bottle, think twice and see if you can recycle or upcycle it instead. It’ll help the environment and maybe even save you some money in the long run!

Do you have any other ideas? Share them in the comments below!

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Frequently Asked Questions

The recycling rates for plastic bottles and jars have increased over the years. In 1988, the recycling rate was only about six percent. However, by 2016, that number had risen to almost 30 percent. This is still lower than the recycling rates for other recyclable materials such as aluminum cans and glass bottles. Nowadays, we have to do better, but there are also many ideas and ways to help recycle and reuse plastic bottles and jars.

Upcycling is the process of taking something that would normally be considered trash and repurposing it into something new and useful.

Even though it’s all around us, plastic definitely comes with a number of harmful effects and you can find more about them here.

The best way to find out if a plastic bottle or jar is recyclable is to check the recycling symbol on the bottom of the plastic container itself. The recycling symbols are usually different depending on the country. In the United States, there are seven different types of plastic that can be recycled. These plastics are labeled with a number inside a triangle.

The seven types of plastic that can be recycled are:

  • PET or PETE (Polyethylene terephthalate)
  • HDPE (High-density polyethylene)
  • PVC (Polyvinyl chloride)
  • LDPE (Low-density polyethylene)
  • PP (Polypropylene)
  • PS (Polystyrene)
  • Other (includes all other plastics that do not fit into the above categories)

If you are unsure about a certain type of plastic, it is always best to check with your local recycling center to see if they accept it.

PET is the most common type of plastic that is used to make plastic water bottles and soft drink bottles. It is also used to make some food containers, such as peanut butter jars and ketchup bottles. PET is a strong, lightweight plastic that is easy to recycle. However, when PET is recycled, it is known as rPET, rePET or rPETE.

When it comes to the environment, recycled plastic has a number of benefits. First, it reduces the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills or incinerators. Second, it cuts down on the energy and resources needed to produce new plastic items. Third, it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the production of new plastics. Finally, recycled plastic can be used to make a variety of new products, including everything from clothing to building materials.

In most cases, yes. However, it’s always best to check with your local recycling provider to be sure.

Some researchers argue recycling process actually represents a downgrading process, as plastic packaging is not always recycled into new packaging, owing to contamination or diminished quality. Recycling also requires significant energy and water inputs, which could potentially offset any environmental benefits.