How to Make Useful Things Out of Cans and Plastic Bottles

Written by tallulah philange
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How to Make Useful Things Out of Cans and Plastic Bottles
Old soda cans make inexpensive baby rattles. (cans of drink image by Christopher Walker from

The three-part mantra for greener living calls for people to "reduce, reuse and recycle." Focus on the second element of reuse by finding new roles for empty cans and bottles. Reusing the materials is an environmentally friendly way to keep the cans and bottles out of landfills and lessens the load on recycling centres. It also may save you money, as old cans and bottles can fulfil needed roles in your household with no added cost.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Pennies
  • Beads
  • Duct or masking tape
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Paint
  • File
  • Water
  • Knife

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  1. 1

    Clean empty soup cans and use them to store old cooking grease. Pouring the grease into the cans keeps it from clogging plumbing systems. Store the grease can in the back of your refrigerator until full, then simply throw it away.

  2. 2

    Place several pennies into a cleaned, empty soda can. Tape the opening closed, and cover any sharp points with several layers of heavy tape. Do the same with beads or a similar kind of small object. Give the cans to babies six-months or older to shake as an inexpensive rattle, which also will help younger babies develop hand-eye coordination.

  3. 3

    Clean, dry and tear the label off of old soup, coffee and paint cans. Puncture several holes in the bottom of each can by hammering a screwdriver head through the bottom to create drainage holes. Paint the outside to your liking and use the cans for flower containers.

  4. 4

    Use clean soup cans to store pens and pencils at your desk or to help organise children's art supplies, such as crayons. File down any sharp edges on the lip before use.

  1. 1

    Refill empty water bottles with water, leaving 1 inch of space at the top and tightly screw on the lid. Freeze the bottles and use them as ice packs or allow a teething baby to chew on the bottles to soothe gum soreness.

  2. 2

    Slice the bottom off of a plastic bottle. Use the inverted bottle -- which can be any size, depending on your needs -- as a funnel.

  3. 3

    Clean small water or soda bottles and use them as containers to make your own salad dressing. Homemade dressings usually must be shaken vigorously to incorporate. Add the ingredients, screw on the cap tightly and shake. You can also store the dressings in the bottles if you have leftovers.

  4. 4

    Cut the bottom off of an empty water bottle and slice off the mouth opening to create a cylinder. Cut the cylinder in half so you have two smaller cylinders about 3 inches long each. Thread a cylinder over seedlings in the garden and gently push the plastic bottle piece into the ground to protect vulnerable seedlings from weeds and pests.

Tips and warnings

  • Place the flower pot cans on a plate or tray to catch water that drains from the containers.
  • Use a piece of aluminium foil and a rubber band to cover soup cans used for grease storage to minimise odours and spills.

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