By now, most people are aware of the dangers posed by plastic to our environment. Along with this awareness has come a desire for healthier alternatives. Unfortunately, when it comes to toiletries, plastic remains the dominant packaging choice by manufacturers. So until better alternatives are available, consumers have to resort to upcycling or recycling product packaging, containers and bottles.
Upcycling (a creative form of reuse) is somewhat similar to recycling when you consider that in both processes, the same item is still being put to use. The difference though is that recycling almost always involves turning an item to raw materials which can be used to reproduce again but when we reuse, we put the item – as it is – to good use in a different way to what it was originally designed for.
The upcycling culture is simple to adopt not just because of its sustainability qualities but also because it often boils down to a little DIY job. The best way to reduce our plastic footprint is sometimes by reusing what you already have.
So have some empty cosmetic and lotion bottles lying around? Here are some way to reuse and upcycle them:
1. Window garden planters
Window gardens are easy and colorful ways to spice up your home especially if you are living in an apartment and have limited space. They supply you with an assortment of fresh vegetables while cleansing the air you breathe and the best thing about them is that you decide how they get to be. This brings us to those empty plastic beauty bottles still lying around your home. All you need to do here is to wash the bottles thoroughly and dry well. Next, remove the label from the bottle and using a knife cut the plastic in half.
Then add in the required quantity of soil, some water and the plant of your choosing. You can place this DIY planter near the window or you can place a curtain rod on your window and hanging your gardens from them. Not only is this reusing technique very decorative, it is so easy that it will take all of thirty minutes (maybe less) to accomplish.
2. DIY storage bins for your home
Plastics revamped this way are literally perfect for anywhere in the home and can be easily made from whatever empty plastic lotion container you currently have in your home.
You’d need to wash the chosen lotion containers thoroughly, and get rid of the labels if any by washing in soap and water. Next, cut off the top and fashion a shape for the back of each container. You can either use some cardboard paper for this, or carve out the shape from the lotion bottles themselves. Then smoothen out the rough edges with sandpaper and you’re done.
You can repaint the bottles if you prefer them more colorful, then hang them off your door knobs or place them on your work table to hold your stationary and office supplies. You can also attach them to a piece of plywood for wall-mounted storage or use them for a sponge caddy in your kitchen sink. The possibilities here for storing items is endless.
3. Faucet extender for the little ones in your life
Faucet extenders are great ways to assist kids whose hands aren’t able to go all the way into the sink as they extend the water to where you kids can wash their hands comfortably. Put differently, a good faucet extender brings the water to the child so that you don’t have to bring the child to the water. Get it?
Most sinks aren’t exactly designed with kids primarily in mind and this means that shorter faucets in sinks are more common than not. Fortunately, we have an easy solution to this and it will cost you not one cent. All you need to do is to cut an old plastic lotion bottle into the shape of your faucet and use it as a faucet extender by looping it onto your sink or bathroom faucet to extend the flow of water. Before using, make sure to wear any jagged bits off with sandpaper or steel wool and you don’t want any sharp edges hurting the young ones.
4. Create your very own piggy bank
Reusing your plastic lotion bottles can save you a lot of money; literally. You can revamp your old plastic cosmetics jar into a piggy bank – since plastics aren’t really biodegradable anyway – to save up the money you would have spent on a metal safe. Plus loads more. You can also create little piggy banks for your kids to teach them the importance of saving money, no matter how little they have.
Cut a coloured paper of your choice to wrap around the bottle. Use glue to hold the paper in place on the bottle. Draw the inner and outer piggy ear shapes and then glue the inner ear shape to the outer ear shape. Bend back the bottom part of the ear and glue it to the upper side of the bottle. And finally, create the pig’s snout, eyes and nostrils with black markers. You’re all done; all that’s left is for you to put your colorful creation to good use.
5. Revamp into soap dispensers
This is the last idea on our list but it definitely isn’t the least.
It is the simplest eco-friendly addition you could make to your bathroom cabinet or your kitchen. And all you need to do is wash out your old plastic lotion bottles, get rid of any old labels and fill with liquid soap or cleaning agents and use as needed, refilling when empty.
Ultimately, the choice to reuse plastic and other products although relatively easy is a deeply personal one. We can only hope that this article nudges you in some way to make or commit to that choice today. And we hope any of these techniques will come in play to assist you on your way.
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Feature image by Valeriia Miller.