‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’. Though we’ve all heard this phrase, we tend to focus on its foremost and final instructions, and to ignore the suggestion which is (perhaps not coincidentally) at its core. ‘Reusing’ is among the most useful things one can do for the environment; nothing guarantees that a waste product doesn’t end up in landfill like never throwing it away in the first place. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a short list of tips on how to reuse your plastic bottles. Some are practical, some are a little silly, but all are better than sending your waste to rot - or worse, not to rot - in a tip!
We’ve all had the experience of gallivanting off on holiday, only to return to the sorry sight of withered leaves and a wilted, dead house plant. Indeed, given holidays are generally taken in the summer months, it’s difficult to guarantee the health of even garden plants or allotment crops.
This is where your unwanted plastic bottles come in. Through a couple of simple adjustments to a two-liter plastic bottle, you can create a fully functional DIY plant-watering device: all at 0 cost. Simply take a two-liter plastic bottle, slice off its bottom, make a series of small holes in its lid, and stand it upside down in the soil which you wish to hydrate. If assembled correctly, once filled with water your contraption will gradually release liquid into the soil over time: not drowning your plants, but also ensuring that they don’t die of thirst!
There’s something particularly satisfying about this one - taking something which is generally viewed as damaging to the environment, and turning it into a restorative force in your own personal ecosystem!
A bottle garden
We live in an urban age, and, as a result, ever fewer of us have access to our own green spaces. Though many enjoy city life, there are aspects of rural living which we all miss, even if we don’t know it; human beings aren’t programmed to see nothing but brick and mortar.
With this in mind, it’s vital to ensure that we get our daily dose of green - even if doing so means getting a little creative. Bottle gardens are exactly what they sound like: a series of large bottles chopped in half and filled with greenery. These can be made to look quite spectacular if designed with care: mounting your bottle-pots on the wall, for example, can give a really Mediterranean flair to your living room. Your lungs will thank you, too!
If you ARE lucky enough to have a garden, you’ll know that this privilege can be a double-edged sword. Keeping your green space in good condition is time-consuming, and requires all kinds of specialist equipment - much of which is unnecessary, and all of which is expensive.
Here’s where your bottle comes in. Pierce a large plastic bottle with a load of holes - a dozen or more - and run a high powered hose through its lid; voila! A fully functional sprinkler at no cost at all. This one also has the advantage of being quite cathartic: if your garden-based responsibilities are ticking you off, you can take out your anger on the bottle.
Keeping your pets busy is no simple task. Many of us have seen first-hand the carnage which can be wrought by a mischievous cat, or (God forbid) a desoltury puppy.
If used carefully, plastic bottles can be useful in avoiding such havoc. Filling a bottle with pet treats and poking a few small holes in its sides will create a toy which occupies your companion for hours: they’ll be endlessly engaged in attempting to manoeuvre the treats through the gaps. This means a little respite for you, and no cash splashed on extoratively priced toys!
We should emphasise, though, that caution must be used when creating these kinds of toys. They can, of course, be a choking hazard, and pet owners should avoid using bottles which their animal might be capable of shredding with its teeth. Indeed, if the pet in question is large and powerful - a full grown dog, for instance, or a large puppy - such toys should probably be avoided altogether.
Homemade water filter
Whilst this won’t create water that’s clean enough to drink - and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for more advanced filtration methods - it is a neat little party trick, and will turn muddy water to clear liquid pretty effectively.
It’s a pretty simple process, but it’s most easily broken down as a series of steps:
- 1. Slice the bottom end off a water bottle
- 2. Create a small hole in the center of the bottle’s lid.
- 3. Insert a filtering agent - whether a coffee filter, or cotton, or similar - into the hole and down into the bottleneck. It’s important that this fits snugly, so use your hands to manoeuvre it into place.
- 4. Take either crushed charcoal or sand and fill the bottle up with this substance. It should be about 1.5 to 2 inches up.
- 5. On top of your charcoal or sand, add gravel; the same amount again.
- 6. Add some small rocks or bigger pieces of gravel on top of your previous two layers. These should take up about the same amount of space as the prior two.
- 7. Pour dirty water into your contraption - it should come out clean! If not, you’ve likely made a mistake along the way: go back through these instructions, or search the internet for more info.
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