Introduction: Quick and Easy Homestead Uses for Plastic Bottles (PET)

Picture of Quick and Easy Homestead Uses for Plastic Bottles (PET)

In the not too distant past, you would buy milk, sodas, etc. in glass bottles which you would return to the store to be sterilized and used again. Now, with our disposable culture, plastic bottles have replaced this system and have consequently become one of the many banes of the landfills. We need to rectify this wasteful and eco-nomically expensive practice.

The current popular solution to the problem is recycling. However, recycling requires additional energy to process the material into something usable, not to mention the fact that the process itself can have harmful side effects. So a better solution, if you can't avoid the disposable containers altogether, is to reuse them. This requires no added infrastructure costs and concerns. In fact, if you are reusing junk, you are helping to make the initial energy that went into the production of that material last longer and go farther. It's not just about saving money, but more importantly, integrating your lifestyle with what is available for the least amount of cost, be it environmental or financial.

That said, here are 10 simple ideas on how to reuse plastic bottles around the homestead.

Keep updated on our ideas for this project:

Step 1: Mosquito/Insect Trap

Picture of Mosquito/Insect Trap

Cut the top (just before the start of the cone) off a 2 liter bottle.

Invert the cone and place it inside the straight part of the bottle.

Glue the two pieces together, using a glue or silicon.

Add 1 tsp yeast and 1/2 cup sugar to some luke warm water, and pour the mixture into the bottle.
Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide that you exhale. The yeast feeds off the sugar and emits the same gas, so the mosquito enters the bottle, thinking she will find food there. She cannot then get out.

You can use the same bottle design for a fly trap, but fill it with a putrid smelling liquid. For wasps, use a sugar mixture. For fish, put under water, and add a bit of cheese or bread.

Step 2: Scoop

Picture of Scoop

Make a diagonal cut somewhere in the straight part of a 2 liter bottle (depending on what size you want it).

You now have a scoop. We use one for the cover material for the composting toilet, and one for chicken feed.

Step 3: Handy Holders

Picture of Handy Holders

Cut the cone part off a clear plastic bottle, and you are left with a handy holder that you can see inside of. We use ours for nuts, bolts, nails, etc. They are also great for long-term storage of liquids, like water, oil, paint, etc.

Step 4: Coldframe/Cloche

Picture of Coldframe/Cloche

When you want to start a seedling in the ground a little early, but fear it could be chilly, you need a cold frame. It's like a little greenhouse. Clear plastic bottles work great for this (don't use green bottles).

Cut the cone part off and invert the remaining part of the bottle over your seedling. Push the bottle into the soil, so that it does not blow away. In the middle of warm springs days, it is a good idea to raise the bottle a bit and allow air and heat to escape.

Step 5: Cookie/Biscuit Cutter

Picture of Cookie/Biscuit Cutter

Use one of the cones you have cut off for either the handy holders or the cold frames. It makes a great cookie cutter.

Step 6: Butter Churn

Picture of Butter Churn

Use a wide-mouthed bottle for this.

Separate the cream from your cow's or goat's milk and allow it to ripen a little. If you allow the cream to ripen a little, the butter will be more flavorful and easier to churn. Do not let it ripen too much or the butter will be sour.

Get the cream to about 60 degrees F.

Pour it inside the wide-mouthed bottle and screw the lid on tightly.

Roll the bottle back and forth on the floor for about 20 minutes, or until the cream separates into buttermilk and clumps of butter. This is a great chore for the kids to do!

Drain off the buttermilk (great for baking or milkshakes or animal feed).

Take the clumps of butter and beat them with a spoon until its all joined together.

Add salt  � tsp per pound of butter (unsalted butter spoils faster).

Wrap butter in wax paper and put it in the fridge.

Step 7: Building Brick

Fill the bottle with dirt and you have a brick. Dirt is a very cheap building material, but you usually need it to be a certain quality, with a proper sand/clay ratio. However, with the plastic bottles, you can build with any type of dirt. Use mortar in between the bottles, as with any other brick. Be sure to cover the ends of the bottles to avoid seeing them in the finished wall.

Alternatively, leave the bottles empty, or full of air. This will give the wall a better insulation value.

Leave a bottle exposed, and insert a solar garden light in the other end. Instant wall lighting.

Step 8: LED Lightbulb

Picture of LED Lightbulb

Cut the cone off a small plastic bottle.

With a box cutter, cut the thread off the mouth of the bottle, so that it is smooth.

Take an old incandescent light bulb and smash the bulb. Clean any glass off the screw-in part.

Cut a circle out of a piece of thin card (diameter should fit inside the plastic cone).

Pierce the card with however many holes needed to make the bulb you want. We made 12 VDC bulbs, because our lights run off DC. We made one bulb with 6 white LEDs (which is not very bright, but works for a lamp) and one with a mixture of several white and yellow LEDs. However many lights you want and whatever voltage you need, you will have to make the voltage regulator match.

You'll need a 12VDC voltage regulator, 6 white LED's and a resistor.

Solder your LEDs together, positive to negative. Solder the resistor to the negative end. Solder the ends of this array to the respective leads of the voltage regulator. On the input side for the voltage regulator, solder the positive to the tip of the light bulb base. The negative goes to the side of the screw in part of the light bulb. Glue the plastic bottle to the base.

Step 9: Electric Fence Insulator

Picture of Electric Fence Insulator

Cut a small bottle in half. You can use both halves.

Using one half cut a Z groove on the open end. Directly opposite of the bottle, but still on the open end, cut another Z groove, and make sure to make it a mirror image of the first.

Now, on the closed in, make a slit or large hole for your post to run through both sides of the bottle. Near the slit, make two small holes, either side of the post slit. Use this end to wire to the post, and run the electric fence through the Z groove.

Step 10: Ice Pack or Feezer Thermal Mass

Picture of Ice Pack or Feezer Thermal Mass

Fill bottles with water and put them in the freezer. You can use them in an ice chest to keep things cold on the go. You can also put them in your fridge to improve its efficiency. If the power goes off, the ice packs will keep things colder for longer.

Step 11: Additional Ideas

Here are some ideas that we haven't put together yet:

Chicken Waterer - this is similar to the hummingbird feeder: Humming Bird Feeder The difference is that you make it much bigger and juts fill it with water, no sugar.

Low-flush Toilet - Since we have a compost toilet, we can't do this one. But for those of you with flushing toilets, this would be great. Just fill a bottle with water and put it in the top tank, out of the way of any moving parts. It will help your toilet use less water.

Bird house - cut a 2 inch hole in a 2 liter bottle, paint it, and hang from a tree. It is a good idea to insert a small wooden dowel for a perch.

Keep updated on our ideas for this project:


hobotraveler (author)2013-05-10

I have not made 4 different designs, and the one like this does work, but has some problems. It also will collect rain water if outside. I finally realized, this needs to be inside a room with screens on the windows and screen doors. Then it would capture the mosquitoes that sneak inside when the door is open. Otherwise, it is guiding the mosquitoes to the room which is not wanted. I am testing a couple with just 2 one quarter inch holes in the sides. Which is faster to make, waterproof. Well, in a way,I am trying every combination I can find, but trying to remove the need to buy sugar. There is plenty of fruit scraps here in West Africa. Bottles are scarce in Kara, Togo because the public water system is good, and they drink soda in recycled bottles. in a really poor place, to need to buy anything would stop the use of this idea. And, it does not have immediate results you can see in 10 minutes, so a hard sale.Thanks for the help.

any fermentation with sugar will give off the CO2 needed for this to work. Fruit peels and scraps with some water will ferment and produce CO2. Soda bottles will work, in fact, we used 2l soda bottles for ours. even better if they have some old soda in there, as that adds sugar to the mix.

tulekah (author)2017-09-25

Bird houses don't need perches...sparrows will take over a birdhouse if there is a perch (because they are ground birds) song birds can fly up to the hole and in with no trouble.

calenso (author)2016-09-18

Saw your electric fence idea. Here is an extension: If you have beavers knocking down trees and hauling them away for their dams, take the bottle as you have it, using each to hold the electric fence just off the ground (no post required) between the beavers and your trees. Beavers soon will go elsewhere!

Errol1951 (author)2016-06-28

Another that I heard of lately cut a small hole about 75mm down from the neck about 35-40mm in diameter put some peanut butter in the bottom of the bottle and bury it standing up in the ground so the hole is just above the ground, cover just to hide the bottle but leave the hole exposed and you have just made one of the best mouse traps you can get and you don't have to touch the mice

sires6 (author)Errol19512016-07-03

picture or better explaination?

Phildbasket (author)2016-07-02

I know!! that you have never tried it.! If you had tried it you wouldn't say it's dumb. It doesn't take to many brain cells to cut and paste bottle parts together and trap Flys. It works. Shut up.

BarbaraZ2 (author)2016-06-29

Lay it on it's side outdoors, using yeast and water, and you have a great slug trap. No need to glue the two parts together, as you will have to empty the slugs every day... No yeast? Use some beer. That works too, even better.

atw58 (author)2016-06-29

Part of my vegetable garden is on a slope along the side of the house. When watering it easily runs downhill and doesn't soak into the soil. I stuck 2.5 inch rings from a 2L bottle then cut in half to form a semi-circle placed into the dirt to act as a wall to hold in the water. These mini terraces do a good job of allowing the water to penetrate instead of running away.

kcisis (author)2016-06-29

Another use for gardeners-cut the bottom off different size bottles, leaving the lids on, when you need to spray for weeds around a "valuable" plant just pop your bottle shield over it and it will be protected from over-spray by buffeting breezes

deduka (author)2016-06-29


cepaly (author)2016-06-28

LED Lightbulb how value the resistor?

Snidely70448 (author)cepaly2016-06-28

LED's in a DC circuit act like resistors. If they are wired in parallel, they all "see" the same voltage and you want to put a resistance in series with the LED circuit to drop the voltage they "see" to a voltage that will light them but not burn them out. The easiest way to do this is to put a variable resistance (a volume control is a variable resistance) in the circuit and reduce the resistance until the LED's light, then measure the resistance of the variable resistor with an ohm meter.

If the LED's are identical and wired in series , each LED will drop the same voltage. Put the right number of LED's in series and they will drop the supply voltage (put the wrong number in series and they will not light (too many) or burn out (too few)).

joeschmidt97 (author)cepaly2016-06-28

Usually a small resistance (say 100 Ohms or so) is good enough for standard LEDs. You just want some resistance so you don't cause a short circuit.

LindaP87 (author)2016-06-28

I put my pet birds' seed mix and formulated food in clean dry bottles. Makes it easier to pour and handy to take when he goes to a friends house when we go out of town.

pskvorc (author)2016-06-28

Great stuff here. I personally like the butter churn.

Before we extol the virtues of glass too much and long for the "good old days" of glass containers, let's keep a couple of things in mind.

First an foremost, "business" is concerned with profit, not convenience until convenience effects profit. Glass is VERY HEAVY. Shipping costs SKYROCKET with glass containers.

Second, glass BREAKS. Loss in shipping SKYROCKETS with glass containers. Methods to mitigate breakage loss INCREASE shipping costs AND WASTE.

Third, glass isn't any more 'biodegradable" than plastic. Personally, as offensive as plastic containers are littered all over the countryside, BROKEN SHARDS OF GLASS ARE WORSE.

Fourth, safety. Broken glass is a serious safety issue around small children.

Fifth, cleaning glass is 1) EXPENSIVE, and 2) USES ENERGY.

I applaud wise use and reuse of plastics, but plastic is neither the satan that so many like to suggest it is, and most importantly, glass isn't the "messiah" that the same people want to say it WAS. Let's lose the "good" vs "evil" crap and focus on intelligent design and use.

DarnellMoonda (author)2016-06-28

I have made several of these products... hate to throw anything away that it is possible to recycle.

Saw the post on someone wanting to know how to make butter and asked what Ripened Milk was - it is whole milk that has sit out of the refrigerator overnight to sour so you can make your own butter.


Get a gallon of fresh daily milk, let it sit in the refrigerator for several hours, enough time for the cream to rise to the top.

After the cream has risen you pour the cream into your bottle or jar. (I use a wide mouth glass Mason jar only makes it easier). Leave this bottle/jar of cream out on the counter overnight ( DO NOT REFRIGERATE). The next morning you will have what is called Ripen Milk.

Shake the bottle/jar of cream vigorously for about 5 to 10 minutes. You will feel the difference in the weight and see small bits of butter on the sides of the jar. Shake it about 5 to 10 minutes more but slowly. You want the small bits of butter to gather into a clump.

When the butter has gathered spoon it out and into a small bowl.

Run about 1/4 cup of COLD water in the dish and use a fork to stir the butter (this takes the whey, bitterness, out of the butter). Pour off the water, if water is not clear then repeat this step.

Add salt or any other spices you want to your fresh made butter and start eating it. You can either waste the buttermilk by pouring it out, drink it, or use in a recipe. I make butter out of fresh milk every week just like this.

DIY-Guy (author)2014-03-14

Bunch of nice ideas you got there. Thank you.

According to the plastics industry, their dirty little secret is that plastics marked "recycleable" are still manufactured from fresh plastic. Labels, glue, dirt, and mixed plastics in the recycling stream prevent bottles from being made of old plastic. So unless there is a massive need for park benches made of plastic and sawdust we are not going to see much benefit in society.

My plastics get reused, but it's only a delay before the landfill. Same for many reduce/reuse/but-not-recycled projects. Even putting them inside walls accomplishes the same thing as burying in a landfill. The walls will erode over time and trash is distributed over the face of the land which can possibly contaminate the rain to groundwater cycle.

These are not complaints toward the author, merely ideas to consider as we examine the entire life-cycle of reusing or repurposing plastic waste.

Have a great day and lemme know of any new solutions, I'm ready to listen!

velacreations (author)DIY-Guy2014-03-14

The wall only eventually erodes if it is made improperly or never maintained. Concrete structures last centuries.

There are many ways to take these plastics out of the waste stream, and that's what reusing is all about. Sure, we should look at recycling and better materials, but we should reuse as much as possible, first.

tim61t (author)velacreations2016-04-07

Does the plastic get brittle and break down over time? That would be a limiting factor in using for long term stuff like building projects.

slippyblade (author)tim61t2016-06-28

When using to build, you cover the exposed plastic with plaster. Plastic does NOT degrade if it is not exposed to UV light i.e. the sun.

TeresaM7 (author)2016-06-28

A note about putting a perch on a bird house - many sites/builders suggest NOT putting on a perch. The bird small enough to use the opening doesn't need it, but it does give larger birds a place to cling to while raiding the nest, something they would have great difficulty doing without the perch. Some great ideas here, though!

deswiger (author)2016-06-28

Thanks for the "clean-earth" share (I hate litter). I use some of these with great success. Semper Fi

I too had the rain problem with the mosquito trap. Take another bottle, a couple of sizes bigger works best, leave the cap on but cut the top off down around the part that starts getting fat, (much like the part that you turn upside-down to put in side the trap). Then take 2, 3 or 4 (your choice), pop-cycle sticks, attach them (glue, screws,staples, again your choice) to the out-side of the trap, set the new bigger bottle (cap side up) onto the sticks and yaaa, you have an umbrella for your trap to stay out-side.

sharpstick (author)2016-06-28

If you fill the bottles that you freeze, they will probably burst as the ice expands. I've done this, but only fill them partway in stages. Lay them on their sides so the expansion will be into the empty space in the bottle, not against the walls. Top them off 2 or 3 times and put back in the freezer.

IamTheMomo (author)2016-06-28

They are also used as free lights in other countries where poor people live in very dark homes, by cutting a hole in the roof and inserting a bottle upside down. They become a solar tube. I always keep a plastic quart fruit jar frozen for use in coolers, and store water in them during hurricane season. I bought a Soda Stream so I don't have to buy those bottled drinks anymore! I WILL make a wasp trap and put it a distance away from my house, as I am violently allergic to their stings, and they keep me prisoner in my house in the spring when they are nest-building in my carport. I keep a can of wasp spray by the front door so I can use it any time I have to open it. The nasty things have nearly killed me twice, and fire ants came so close to it once that I had to be hospitalized overnight, under continuous respiratory assistance.

bengodwin (author)2016-06-28

I use them to start my garden indoors prior to it getting warm enough to take the plant outside and replant in the garden. They work great.

pjollyB (author)2016-06-28

I have filled 2 12 oz bottles with sand and use them as exercise weights. Work great! Also, fill one with sand, pebbles, or heavy kind of kitty litter and use as foot massager - put on floor, roll back and forth with balls of your feet.

pjollyB (author)2016-06-28

I have filled 2 12 oz bottles with sand and use them as exercise weights. Work great! Also, fill one with sand, pebbles, or heavy kind of kitty litter and use as foot massager - put on floor, roll back and forth with balls of your feet.

greybunny (author)2016-06-28

I have seen another instructable using a 2 liter filled with water, insert into the roof of a shed or outbuilding. The sun reflects and refracts from the water, I believe OP said at about a 60 watt light.

WilliamA7 (author)2015-05-12

brbeee (author)2014-03-16

Substitute with 16 or 20 oz bottles cut after taper ends so top doesn't fall through. Add 1.5 to 2 inches of mountain dew. place in sunshine and out of wind and secure base in soil. Place away from work or play area. Nothing works better to collect and kill wasps. They tire from flying then overheat and drown. Does not kill bees. Other sodas will work less effectively. Make an array of 4 or 5 bottles if wasp problem is obnoxious. Secure to board or use a remnant 5 ga pail and dirt, gypsum mix, stucco mix, etc.. to deadweight and secure traps.

vincent7520 (author)2014-03-11

I love your ideas !

I'm sure there billions of others that could be shared.

However the problem with plastic is it is still plastic ! One day or another it will end in a trash can and be lost in nature with a very slow decay of a 100 years ! The ice pack that has been broken and cannot be filled with water will still be there long after we died and our children reached old age (ie. March 2114 !!!…).

I'm sure that you and most others will agree that we nee an alternative, and we need it NOW !

Best wishes and thank you again for your seminal ideas !

SwedyBird (author)2011-03-20

How do you Ripen Milk, and if you do not have a cow or goat. What kind of milk do you get at that store? whole milk?...
I am a city girl and would like to try my hand at this...but the Ripen Milk threw me for a loop. (natural born blone) lol.

drawe (author)SwedyBird2013-09-02

Whipping Cream works well, just keep shaking the bottle, it takes some time. I prefer to use/reuse a Mason jar, makes getting the butter out much easer, or leave it in the jar in the fridge and use it as you need it.

GailC (author)SwedyBird2011-04-21

I think if you get whipping cream (the kind that you actually have to whip) it works...I meant to try it, saw a YouTube vid on it.

Oldetryke (author)2011-10-16

I do not understand why the mosequito cannot fly out of the bottle if she flew in.

drawe (author)Oldetryke2013-09-02

The placement of the cut part works like a Maze, the get lost. They want out so take the shortest route (Up), but the door out is down at the bottom, through the hole and then up (so they never find it)

hobotraveler (author)2013-04-30

I have watched six videos of this on, but you are the first to say the mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide. Thank you, Andy Graham in Kara, Togo an area with Malaria.

MorNuN (author)hobotraveler2013-05-10

they are not attracted to carbon dioxide, at least not in the specific meaning of the word attracted.
they guide by carbon dioxide, that's how they find us humans ,even in the darkness, they keep track of increasing amounts of carbon dioxide.

fbrown58 (author)2013-04-26

I was wondering if I could just staple all around instead of trying to glue would work?

infernisdiem (author)2012-11-12

use the cap to cut out the centers and you can make donuts and donut holes

mizzoumike76 (author)2009-02-14

I'm glad you added the 'thermal mass" use into this. Many people tend to overlook the amount of energy that is wasted every time they open the fridge or freezer. If you're a bachelor with one jar of mustard and one bottle of beer in your fridge: refill all of your old water bottles, and stock up the fridge. When (if) you buy groceries, just remove the necessary amount of bottles to make room. This can save a considerable amount of money/power! Thanks!

iamjelo (author)mizzoumike762012-09-18

your idea is also useful during those hot summer days...can you say cold potable water...ahhh refreshing...just don't forget to refill it or remove it if you need the space..

static (author)mizzoumike762010-04-23

I thought most bachelors used beer for thermal mass in the refer. Some bacheorettes as well.

iPodGuy (author)mizzoumike762009-05-17

Ha ha... My fridge 2 years ago....

jlynne1 (author)2011-10-13

Great ideas!
I especially loved the "brick" idea.
What a great way to recycle!!

nutsandbolts_64 (author)2009-05-15

You live in the Philippines, don't you. I know because of the Sprite which is made in the Philippines by the Coca-cola company. Btw can you put something der to scoop up dirt?

PaulCote (author)nutsandbolts_642011-08-13

Sprite is one of the most common drinks in america :) It is very cool.

nutsandbolts_64 (author)PaulCote2011-08-13

Now that I'm smarter by 2 years, yeah I realized that about 5 months after posting my above comment. It's actually a tad more effective here because of the heat, so the contrast between the sprite's low temp and the high temp of the surrounding environment makes for a oh-so-refreshing drink B-)

static (author)nutsandbolts_642009-05-25

Sprite is available here in North America as well. Generally soft drink are bottle in the country of consumption.

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