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Penny Pincher: Repurpose Empty Medicine Bottles

Updated on January 12, 2017

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle | Source

Recycling Prescription Bottles: Think Outside The Bottle

In 2007 I wrote an article, 21 Ways to Recycle Empty Prescription Bottles, for a green website called About My Planet. It was one of my most popular articles. Since 2007 I have learned of new and interesting ways to recycle empty RX (prescription) and medicine bottles. In an effort to keep these bottle out of the landfill and in addition to that article I wrote above, I have also created this page to share the new and old, but still useful ideas, with you. Just because the bottles are small doesn't mean they are not useful. Think outside the bottle and take a look at the ideas below for inspiration.

Before Repurposing Empty RX Bottle Clean It & Take Off Label

Before reusing any empty medicine bottles in any way make sure to clean and sanitize the bottles thoroughly. Then soak them in soapy water to help label removable a little easier. Some of the newer kind of labels are easy to peel off. Just lift it from one corner and slowly cleanly peel it right off. No glue or sticky residue is left on the bottle. With labels off strangers can't have easy access to your personal information.

Repurpose RX Bottles


How-To Reuse

Fun ways to repurpose empty prescription and medicine bottles below ---------->

Reuse empty medicine bottles for Storing Food

When recycling RX bottles to store food please note that some prescription medications leave behind a residue that cannot be easily washed away. Please use extreme caution if you decide to use clean and empty rx bottles to store food. If you feel uneasy about using it for food then don't. If you have no problem with it and you know there is no residue left behind after a good clean here are a few fun ways to store food inside these tiny bottles:

1. Salt and pepper shakers: Make 3-5 tiny thumb tack holes on the lid. You may need a hammer. Be careful not to break the lids.

2. Condiment holder for lunch: If you are packing a lunch and want to store some condiments with your lunch these tiny little bottles with tight lids are perfect. Easy to store and wont spill. Examples of condiments are: mayo, mustard, ketchup, salad dressing, olive oil and vinegar mix, cheese shreds, etc.

3. Dried herbs from the garden. If you grow herbs and have dried some these are perfect little containers that easily fit in your spice cabinet with the rest of the spices. They can also be give to people you loves as gifts. Make sure to label the bottles rosemary, oregano, mint, etc so you know what herbs are inside.

4. Peeled garlic for this weeks meals. If you have an extra 10 minutes a week or so you can take that time to peel some garlic and store them in these little bottles all at once. Use them in cooking or for medicinal purpose by the end of the week. It will save on prep time during the week.

Money in one. Craft paper cut outs in the other.
Money in one. Craft paper cut outs in the other. | Source

Tiny Things For Tiny Storage

Prescription bottles are great containers for small items. The bottles can then be placed in a drawer, on a shelf, or can easily fit in a purse for nice and neat organization of small items. Take a look around your house and especially in boxes and drawers at small items that could fit in a prescription bottle.

Office supplies: paper clips, thumb tacks, extra staples,

Sewing supplies: needles, thread, buttons, beads

Jewelry: rings, earrings, pendants, pins

Hair: hair ties, bobby pins

Tools: Nails, screws, bolts

Money: Nickles, dimes, quarters, pennies, rolled up dollar bills

Gardening: Seeds, seedlings, dried herbs

Scrapbooking supplies: tiny paper cut out, colorful hole punched paper, stickers, glitter

Clean! Clean! Clean! Or Ask Your Pharmacy

You can't forget to take the time to really clean these empty prescription bottles before you reuse them, especially for food storage. Some medicines leave behind residue and its important to wash that out.

If you don't feel comfortable reusing your prescription bottles in any way then ask your pharmacist if the pharmacy has a recycling program for your empty RX bottles. They may also recycle any old medication you may have left over. If they don't have a recycling program, offer your empty, clean and label free bottles to someone that you may know recycles them. Check online.

Note: If you obtain RX bottles from someone else please do not use the bottles for food storage. Since you are unaware of the medication they have taken you cannot be certain if medication residue is left in the empty prescription bottles or not.

Please Note

If you obtain RX bottles from someone else please do not use the bottles for food storage. Since you are unaware of the medication they have taken then you cannot be certain if medication residue is left in the empty prescription bottles or not.

Why Throw Them Away

Also DON'T forget to ask your pharamacist

If they have a recycling program for your left over medicine or empty prescription bottles. If they don't let them know you are interested in an RX bottle recycling program.

Don't Forget About Your Pets

Make some fun toys for your pet. If you have good sewing skills you can fill the bottle with noise maker (beans) than sew it into a toy for cats. Please note this could be a choking hazard for babies or any animal that can rip the toy open like a dog.

Help and Donations

Help and donate. Sometimes homeless shelters take empty prescription bottles and reuse them. Call your local homeless shelter to find out if they do. Try free clinics in your area too. One more place to try is your local vet or animal shelter. Some locations will reuse the bottles to fill prescriptions for the animals.

What about Pinching Pennies????

Don't think I forgot the whole idea here is learn how to earn a few pennies form all of this. First I wanted to show you all the ways you could reuse these tiny little bottles for your own crafty and organizing needs, but if you don't care for this or are have so many prescription bottles you don't know what to do with them sell them to crafter. You wont make much. Pennies maybe, but this is the penny pinching page and we all know every penny counts.

On Ebay you can sell in bulk of 10-20 empty prescription bottles for about $10 or more dollars. I don't know how successful this is, but it wouldn't hurt to try. Other places to try to sell are: Facebook groups for beg, barter and sell or during one of your garage sells, or a fellow crafter in your neighborhood.

You also make fun crafts like the ones on Pinterest and then sell your fun crafts on Ebay, Facebook, Etsy and so on.

If you decide you want to try selling empty prescription bottles for chump change, but you don't have enough at home to collect on a weekly or monthly basis then you ask your family members and your friends for all of their empty pill bottles. Ask your neighbors. Ask on Facebook.

Even the vitamin bottles


Re-purposing RX bottles

How interesting or important is it for you to find a re-purpose for your empty rx bottles?

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What do you think about reusing empty RX bottles?

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    • Ecolicious LM profile image

      Penny Pincher G 5 years ago

      @victoriahaneveer: true

    • victoriahaneveer profile image

      victoriahaneveer 5 years ago

      Some good ideas here, I bet millions are wasted all the time. I never even thought of recycling such things (the glass ones go in the glass recycling bin but not the plastic kind).

    • Ecolicious LM profile image

      Penny Pincher G 5 years ago

      @PhilominaTheSicilian: thank you for visiting my lens as well. i love new ideas

    • profile image

      PhilominaTheSicilian 5 years ago

      Thank you for liking my lens! Also, this is really great, I was looking at the list of your lenses and came across this, and its just what I needed! I like Dusty2's idea as well for mini-tackle boxes! Great ideas!

    • Ecolicious LM profile image

      Penny Pincher G 5 years ago

      @SquidooPower: good idea

    • Ecolicious LM profile image

      Penny Pincher G 5 years ago

      @Dusty2 LM: Great ideas and you are welcome

    • Dusty2 LM profile image

      Dusty2 LM 5 years ago

      I have no problem as i try to reuse them all. They make excellent mini-tackle bottles. i transfer the light fishing tackle from manufacturer's small plastic bags to the empty RX bottles. Strip the RX label off and label what ever is in the mini-tackle bottle. Can keep the bottles organized on a shelf or throw one in pocket when fishing. if dropped in water that's OK; they float.

      Someone mentioned a mini first aid kit. Nice to have a nice dry band-aid handy when accidentally getting hooked. Again throw it in a pocket and you are good to go.

      Thanks for your visit to my lens. It is appreciated.

    • SquidooPower profile image

      SquidooPower 5 years ago

      I use them to hold matches and as emergency tinder containers on my boat for my ditch bag because they keep everything dry. I shred steel wool, mix it together with cotton balls and drip candle wax on them. When you need to start a fire, few things work better than this.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I like the idea. They would come in handy for storing tiny picture-hanging nails and doo-dahs, screws, washers and the like. With the child-proof cap, they would make a good portable, emergency sewing kit container, or as you suggested, tiny first aid kit for bumps and scrapes. Wonderful ideas here. Angel blessed.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

      We have a big bag of hubby's Rx bottles. We discovered our local pharmacy will give you a recycling bag for around 3 bucks and you can fill it up and take it back to them for safe recycling. Great idea for a lens or article. Every little bit saved from landfills helps!

    • Charmcrazey profile image

      Wanda Fitzgerald 6 years ago from Central Florida

      I've been wondering what to do with my empty prescription bottles. I had no idea some organizations needed them. I'll check in my area. Thanks.

    • pimbels lm profile image

      pimbels lm 6 years ago

      It's a good idea. I also use the for my miniatures, depending how big the bottle is. Great lens, thanks.

    • knit1tat2 profile image

      knit1tat2 6 years ago

      now that I have a prescription, I will have to see if I can find a place to reuse the bottles! Also would love to find someone who could use those really airtight snap lid little containers for test strips!

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 7 years ago

      Great idea for a lens! I wish pharmacies would allow you to bring back your old bottles and use them for refills. Until then, I love the idea of using them to keep track of Barbie shoes. My daughter is always losing those shoes!

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 7 years ago from Australia

      I love the idea of reusing stuff to avoid overfilling landfill. You have listed some great ideas here.

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 7 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      It's a cool idea. You actually got me thinking about my vitamin bottles.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 7 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      Excellent reuse tips! I have been saving prescription bottles for a while but haven't used them for much.