Ten Ways to Recycle Empty Pill Bottles
Assuming you've already collected a drawer full of empty pill bottles (please get well soon!); you'll need to do a couple of things to prepare them for recycling projects.
- Remove the labels. Nobody but you, a significant other, your health provider and your pharmacist should care what meds you're taking. Take the labels off! A citrus based cleaner, some vinegar or a good soapy soaking will usually remove any residue adhesive from those pesky labels.
- Thoroughly wash and dry the pill bottles.
- Sort them by size, color, clarity (but only if you're really compulsive)
- Pill Cups. Why clutter the dinner table with your pill bottles when you can place your evening dose in a pill cup instead? Pill cups also sit nicely on the breakfast tray. With a trusted set of PVC pipe cutters, you can quickly turn a pill bottle into two easy to use, semi-disposable pill cups. The trick to cutting the bottles in half without shattering them is to apply pressure with the pipe cutters, slowly turn the bottle scoring it until a cut begins, then rachetting down on the cutter to complete the cut.
- Coin Holders. Tired of rummaging through the ashtray in the car for coins to feed the parking meter? Do you have that "special place" in the bedroom/bathroom that coins pile up when you empty your pockets? Various sized pill bottles will quickly tidy up your coin collection and make it useful! Quarters, nickels, dimes, even pennies sort neatly into most bottles. The larger wide mouth bottles are great for dumping handfuls of change.
- Rubber bands. Make recycling your rubber bands even easier by cleaning out that kitchen drawer and putting them into a pill bottle. Then, next time you need one, it will be easy to find! This works pretty well for hair bands in the bathroom too.
- Tackle Box. You could become the uber-recycler and create your own fishing floats from the empty bottles by devising some clever way to attach your line to the bottle. Be careful poking holes in the bottle though because they'll fill up with water and maybe sink. Of course, if you figured out the clever way to attach the line and then filled them with sand, they'd be weights great for bottom fishing (and lead free!). Less engineering is necessary, however, to use the pill bottles to hold sinkers, swivels, loose hooks, small lures, fishing flies, and the like. Pretty much anything in the tackle box that originally came in a flimsy plastic bag can be repacked and neatly labeled in a pill bottle. A large, wide-mouth pill bottle can be recycled into pocket tackle boxes with a little planning. Extra fishing line can be wrapped around a cut-down popcycle stick or wrapped around the outside of the pill bottle (some electrical tape wound over it keeps it in place).
- Toothpick dispensers. Tired of that half-empty toothpick box spilling it's contents all over the cabinet every time you pick it up? Take a pill bottle long enough to hold the toothpicks with the cap on. Carefully drill a hole in the cap to shake a toothpick out when you need it.
- Toolbox Organizers. Washers, small screws, extra drill or screwdriver bits all seem to get misplaced when you really need them. Pop them into a pill bottle and they can't escape.
- Arts & Craft Organizers. Sort beads,glitter, sequins, googly eyes, dangles and doodads to keep them organized and handy. The rule of thumb is that if it comes in a plastic bag, it's going to get lost. Pill bottles are geenrally clear enough to see through so you might not even need to label them.
- Arts & Crafts Projects. Schools, youth groups and kids with proper parental supervision can reuse empty pill bottles (and film canisters) in a variety of arts and crafts projects. A quick search of the World Wide Web yields a variety of plans and ideas. Key Word Search: film canister and pill bottle crafts
- Pocket Sewing Kit. Pins, safety pins, needles, and a few buttons easily fit into a small pill bottle and can be slipped into your pocket, purse, glove box or backpack. Various color threads can be wrapped around a piece of popcycle stick.
- Recycle Them! "Wait!" you say, "They're not made out of the right plastic to dump them in my blue recyling bin." Sadly, most municipal recycling programs can't or won't recycle pill bottles (number 5 plastics). But all is not lost! While they generally can't be reused in the U.S. to dispense medications for humans, check with your vetrinarian, local pet shelter or pet adoption agencies to see if they might be able to reuse them for pet medications. Local charitable service organizations may collect the empty pill bottles for medical missions to poorer countries where they are acceptable. Finally, ask your pharmicist if they participate in an empty pill bottle program of any type.
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