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:
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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:

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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.
velacreations (author)  hobotraveler1 year ago
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.
brbeee1 year ago

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.

DIY-Guy1 year ago

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-Guy1 year ago
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.

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 !

SwedyBird4 years ago
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.
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 SwedyBird3 years ago
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.
Oldetryke3 years ago
I do not understand why the mosequito cannot fly out of the bottle if she flew in.
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)
they can but if you put the liquid high enough the bugs aren't smart enough to go back to the entrance and get back out that way. especially if they go to the outermost corners
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.
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.
fbrown581 year ago
I was wondering if I could just staple all around instead of trying to glue would work?
use the cap to cut out the centers and you can make donuts and donut holes
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!
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..
I thought most bachelors used beer for thermal mass in the refer. Some bacheorettes as well.
Ha ha... My fridge 2 years ago....
jlynne13 years ago
Great ideas!
I especially loved the "brick" idea.
What a great way to recycle!!
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?
Sprite is one of the most common drinks in america :) It is very cool.
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-)
Sprite is available here in North America as well. Generally soft drink are bottle in the country of consumption.
AmyLuthien3 years ago
I took several 2L bottles, drilled 4-5 small holes in each of the caps, then filled the bottles with water and put the caps back on. I then took all those bottles and stuck them cap-end down in the soil around my vegetable plants. It's a cheap way to water your plants while you're on vacation!
velacreations (author)  AmyLuthien3 years ago
yeah, we do the same thing, but for bee food. We stick the bottle upside down in a small hole in the roof of the bee hive. Works good.
This works so fantastic. We swear by it now. Excellent for container gardening.
Did the trap last summer and it worked well. We just left about one fourth of the orange soda in the bottle after a few days all that was left was a thick orange syrup which the wasps loved. Caught quite a few, unfortunately it was no match for the nectar my sunflowers and acorn squash were producing. Soon the dozens of wasps would chase us back in the house if we dared step out the door. Soapy water sprayed on the leaves worked pretty well, but you have to spary at night. The Idea is to wash off the nectar. There were always still a wasp or two standing gaurd and even once we sprayed there was always a handful in the day.
great ideas. instead of precious soil, how about trash, like plastic bags, used as filler? ive heard of a peace corp student who built a small school like that. She asked 20 students to bring as many bottles as they could find to the site, and she used the trash that littered the streets in the community to fill the bottles with, then some chicken wire, cement and paint, now the kids have a school.

stay classy planet Earth
what is this i don t understand
it is to keep the electricity in an electric fence from grounding on each of the metal poles it is held up with
can someone tell me how to repel rabbit i would like to at least see one! i saw one last time before 3 years in my village
You can also use bottles as a friendly mole repellent. Put them halfway in the soil and take the lid off. Because of the wind, the bottles start to make a sound => vibration and moles don't like that.

thx silver912targa do you know something more about repelling/attracting other animals? could you write that all?
Of course it will depreciate property values in your area if people have a yard full of old bottles sticking out of the ground :)
You could always organize it in a pattern or make it look like a fence border...
Well instead of a "rock garden" you'll get a "bottle garden" something completely different ;-) Why don't we start thinking out of the box? Your garden doesn't have to be full of bottles, otherwise it's no use of repelling the moles isn't it? If you think a little you can place them in a strategic manner so the human eye can't see them but the moles on the other hand will...
eveh Whatnot6 years ago
Not in my area. should see the garden junk in people's yards. It doesn't bother me. I get a kick out of odd things. I even made a life size potman out of terra cotta pots once. I think it is because we are Coastal and people expect this on the Coast. There are actually people who want to buy and live in artsy neighborhoods. Signed: An old hippie
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