Plastic waste is one of the biggest environmental concerns globally. Disposable plastics are overwhelming human and natural habitats. There is more waste than can be dealt with in oceans, rivers, roads, landfills, or farms. Single-use plastics such as plastic bottles present more of a problem in areas without robust waste management and recycling plants.
Plastic bottles are a great way to store and transport drinks and other liquids. For instance, it would be impractical to sell soap or bleach to everyone where they go to shops for refills. Storing these items in plastic bottles also makes it safer to use them. However, when the product is over the bottle ends up thrown away. Countries with mandatory recycling programs make it easier to deal with accumulating plastic waste. But keeping track of every plastic bottle can still be difficult.
One of the more personal and practical solutions involves recycling or upcycling plastic bottles. These solutions can help reduce the accumulation of plastic waste in the environment and the risk of microplastics ending up in soils and water sources. Materials you will need are plastic bottles, caps, spoons, scissors, a hot glue gun, a hammer, nails, a metallic file, and string.
These are gardens where the plants are grown in pots that are placed against vertical surfaces or tiered levels. The best bottles to use are one or two-litre bottles. You can cut the plastic bottle in half along the length of the bottle. You can perforate it with two holes at opposite ends and drive a string through it. Also, you can use these to hang the makeshift shelves on the wall. In addition, you can nail the bottles through the walls but this makes it difficult to move them if you need to.
Soda plastic bottles have a unique pattern on the bottom. Cut them and glue the edges to each other until you form the mould you want. Ensure that the plastic you use can handle the heat from the bulbs and not melt.
To make a broom from a plastic bottle, cut the bottom off a clean bottle. Cut thin strips along the length of the bottle. Use scissors to cut strips that are at least 1cm long. Leave at least 5cm between the bottleneck and the edge of the broom. Take a second bottle, remove the bottom, and cut thin strips of the same size as the strips from the first bottle. Cut off the neck and slide the second bottle into the first. Get a third bottle and cut off the top, around a third of the way down from the neck.
Take the shredded bottles and slide them under the cut bottle top. Scrunch them flat before sliding in and make sure they fit snugly. Hammer a nail through all the bottles from one end to the back. Bend the edge of the nail for safety. Hammer another nail on the other end. Put an appropriately sized handle through the bottleneck then pound a nail through it. You can also use metal wires instead of nails to secure the bottles. Plastic brooms are great for scrubbing rough surfaces like pavements. They can also be used to push dry leaves and dirt.
You can use the caps of plastic bottles to create tactile paintings. You can also make abstract patterns or create portraits of colourful animals, plants, or sunsets. The caps can be nailed or glued to a canvas or the wall.
Soda bottles have a pretty pattern at their bases. You can dip them in paint such as acrylic or watercolour on a paper plate and stamp them on a canvas or paper. You can use this to create the image of a tree or flowers.
A spoon lamp made to look like a pinecone. Take a 5-litre plastic water bottle or a bigger one. Cut the handles off plastic spoons and cut off the base of the bottle to fit in a bulb and lamp. Layer the spoons on the bottle and stick them on the bottle in layers, like the leaves of an artichoke. When the glue dries, mount the lamp hold and attach the bulb. You can also use it as a chandelier.
A bouquet lamp is made with the cut bases of bottles. The bases are then glued into a spherical pattern and mounted over a bulb as a lampshade.
Cut the bottoms off a plastic bottle, and trim the edges with scissors to make them neat. When you make them shallow, they look like a flower. Drill a hole in the middle and position a metal rod with a base. Secure with a nut and add more bases, securing them on the top and bottom. You can also use a hot glue gun. Use a coloured plastic bottle to match your aesthetic. You can also paint them.
American designer, Garth Britzman uses plastic bottles filled with coloured liquid at the base to create beautiful parking lot canopies. Using this design, you can create an awning, canopy, or small roof by glueing or nailing plastic bottles together. Britzman uses string to tie the bottles into a pattern. You can repaint the bases or use coloured bottles to create the effect.
Start by cutting off the bottom of the bottle. From the neck down, cut the bottle into thin strips. Spread them out then flatten them to look like a star. Mount the necks on a pole and use a hot glue gun or metal wiring to secure the branches. You can trim the ends and squeeze the rings to make the tree bushier.
Cut the bottom half of a plastic bottle and add soil to grow the plants you want. You can repaint it and hang it off the wall or place it on a window ledge or kitchen counter.
You can carve the bottle into an intricate shape. Take a 2-litre soda bottle and cut off the top third. With a pair of scissors, cut strips about halfway down. Fold them outward then back in to create a pattern.
Plastic jerricans can be used to organise stationary. Cut out the handle area of the bottle or the bottom corner to place your pens. If you cut off the base and the edge along the handle, you can use it as a file organiser.
12. Solar light bulb
Some companies are using plastic bottles to provide lighting. They are a safer, cleaner, and cheaper option than kerosene lamps. They can be made with bottles filled with water and bleach. The bottle is then installed on a roof with a mirror around it to refract light. Simple small copper-based circuits are installed around the mirror to provide light at night.
13. Bird feeder
Take some twine and wind it out around the base of the bottle or thread it through the holes. Poke holes through the edges to put sticks that can be used by birds as a stand. Using a needle, poke multiple holes through the bottle for drainage. About 5cm above the perch, make a hole about the size of a small coin’s diameter. Once you’ve filled the bottle with bird feed, you can reseal it and hang it outdoors. Hang it under a shelter on a clothesline or branch.
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Gloria Mari is a culture writer based in Nairobi, Kenya. She writes on art, film, literature, health, and the environment. She has previously written for Kenya Buzz, People Daily, The Elephant, and Kalahari Review.