Extraordinary Uses for Empty Bottles

Recycle as a chew toy
If Lassie has been chewing on your slippers instead of fetching them, maybe she’s in need of some chew toys. A no-cost way to amuse your dog is to let her chew on an empty plastic 1-liter soda bottle. Maybe it’s the crunchy sound they make, but dogs love them! Just be sure to remove the label and bottle cap (as well as the loose plastic ring under it). And replace it before it gets too chewed up — broken pieces of plastic are choke hazards.

Make a bag or string dispenser
An empty 2-liter soda bottle makes the perfect container for storing and dispensing plastic grocery bags. Just cut off the bottom and top ends of the bottle, and mount it with screws upside down inside a kitchen cabinet or closet. Put washers under the screw heads to keep them from pulling through the plastic. Fill it with your recycled bags (squeeze the air out of them first) and pull them out as needed. You can make a twine dispenser the same way, using a 1-liter bottle and letting the cord come out the bottom.

Cut out a toy carryall
If you’re fed up with Lego or erector-set pieces underfoot, make a simple carryall to store them in by cutting a large hole in the side of a clean gallon jug with a handle. Cut the hole opposite the handle so you or your youngster can easily carry the container back to the playroom after putting the pieces away. For an easy way to store craft materials, crayons, or small toys, just cut the containers in half and use the bottom part to stash your stuff.

Store your sugar
The next time you bring home a 5-pound (2.2-kilogram) bag of sugar from the supermarket, try pouring it into a clean, dry 1-gallon (3.7-liter) jug with a handle. The sugar is less likely to harden, and the handle makes it much easier to pour it out.

Fashion a funnel
To make a handy, durable funnel, cut a cleaned milk jug, bleach, or liquid detergent container with a handle in half across its midsection. Use the top portion (with the spout and handle) as a funnel for easy pouring of paints, rice, coins, and so on.

Make a scoop or boat bailer
Cut a clean plastic half-gallon (2-liter) jug with a handle diagonally from the bottom so that you have the top three-quarters of the jug intact. You now have a handy scoop that can be used for everything from removing leaves and other debris from your gutters, to cleaning out the litter box and poop-scooping up after your dog. Use it to scoop dog food from the bag, spread sand or ice-melt on walkways in winter, or bail water out of your boat (you might want to keep the cap on for this last application).

Keep the cooler cold
Don’t let your cooler lose its cool while you’re on the road. Fill a few clean plastic jugs with water or juice and keep them in the freezer for use when transporting food in your cooler. This is not only good for keeping food cold; you can actually drink the water or juice as it melts. It’s also not a bad idea to keep a few frozen jugs in your freezer if you have extra space; a full freezer actually uses less energy and can save money on your electric bill. When filling a jug, leave a little room at the top for the water to expand as it freezes.

Use for emergency road kit in winter
Don’t get stuck in your car the next time a surprise winter storm hits. Keep a couple of clean gallon (3.7-liter) jugs with handles filled with sand or kitty litter in the trunk of your car. Then you’ll be prepared to sprinkle the material on the road surface to add traction under your wheels when you need to get moving on a slippery road. The handle makes it easier to pour them.

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