Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Plastic Plastic Everywhere!

The very first true plastic, Bakelite, arrived on the scene over a hundred years ago and today it is everywhere!  It brings amazing benefits to our daily lives but at a high environmental cost.  While some plastics are recyclable, others are not.  So, in today's post we'll look at some alternative uses for the plastics that we consume on a daily basis.  While you are reading, be sure to keep in mind the verse Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  All to often, we head straight to the Recycle part and forget about the Reduce and Reuse part.  While recycling is a great alternative to the trash can it also has some economic and environmental costs associated with it.  Here are some ways that I reuse the plastics in my life and hope that you'll post other great ideas below.

In the opening photo, I've chosen some plastics that are not recyclable in my community.  We are a little behind the times with plastics #1 and #2 being the only types of plastic accepted at our local facility.  I have stacks of plastic food containers (typically #5) that I use for a variety purposes.  Once they have been cleaned they are ready to store leftovers, craft supplies and much more.  Most of these smooth plastics can even be written on with a dry erase marker to label whatever is stored inside.  And when you're ready to store something else just wipe it clean and relabel it.

Pill bottles make great storage for little items.  For the jewelry that I sell in my Etsy shop I make beads out of newspaper, magazines and plastic bags and I store them in these pill containers until I am ready to use them.  While I lack the patience and talent for it, some artists make beautiful art with them. Here are some beautifully beaded pill bottles. As with all of your reused plastic containers, you'll want to be sure to wash out those bottles very well.

Another really great bead (or any number of small items) storing container is this one. It had Ferrero Rocher chocolates in it and I've used the containers both with and without the insert.  The one shown has the insert and is used to group similar beads that I want to keep together.

 How is this for a fun, messy and upcycled kids craft?  My niece and I  worked on some papier mache projects together.  We obviously used newspaper and balloons for the form.  But she's a little older and we wanted to add a little sophistication.  To accomplish this we added a base to each piece.  For the small ones we used milk and soda caps and for the larger pieces of art we used the bottom of Starbucks cups.  Add a little papier mache over the plastic pieces and viola - upcycled decorative bowls that stand upright!

 My passion for "doing right by the earth" surely stems from my love of animals.  Anyone who visits my home can make no bones about that statement when they are greeted by 5 cats, a dog, a bird and a tortoise (all rescues)!  You can only imagine the kitty litter that I go through with 5 cats.  I buy one 35 pound container EVERY week!  I can never bring myself to get rid of those amazing containers and have found so many uses for them. I use them for everything from christmas cords and decorations storage to collecting garden scraps whilst pruning and weeding.

They make pretty awesome recycling containers as well.  Check out this recycling container with swagger in my Etsy shop.  I have a feeling there are more where that one came from!

Please post you're ideas for reusing or upcycling your plastic below!

Starbucks Blonde


  1. These are great ideas! I hate to toss plastic too, and so I do indeed bead it! Tiny pill bottles and travel-sized shampoo bottles are especially fun projects. And, after reading this, I have even more ideas!

  2. Yes, I love those litter pails! It also never hurts to check out local not-for-profits that might use these items. I worked at a rehab facility that couldn't get enough of those litter pails - great for feeding time! - and sour cream/cottage cheese type of containers which made great feeding dishes for small animals.

    Great post - glad FrogBag recommended your blog!

  3. Tattytiara, I totally forgot about that. I've done my time in several wildlife rehab facilities and you're right, those litter pails come in quite handy. We used them a lot for cleaning!

    And...thanks FrogBag for the tweet!

  4. I used the litter buckets to store yhings such as my pet food, rock salt and soil. I've used them as trash bins in my basement or in the yard, a mop bucket and a planter

  5. They are pretty versatile and I use them all the time!


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