Get Project Buckets for Free!





Introduction: Get Project Buckets for Free!

Get 5-gallon plastic project buckets for free, keep them out of landfills.
To see my related Instructables, click on "unclesam" just below the title above or in the INFO box to the right. On the new page that appears, repeatedly click "NEXT" to see all of them.

Step 1: Food-grade Pickle Buckets

Chain hamburger joints get their sliced burger pickles in sturdy food-grade 5-gallon plastic buckets, and these buckets cannot be reused for their original purpose. You can use the buckets to tote and store things in the shop, cut and shape them as parts of projects, or make a wooden rack that holds rows of buckets on their sides as wide-mouth storage bins for tools, components, materials. They are useful to crafters, farmers, gardeners, homeowners, boaters, the list is endless. These buckets are more sturdy than similar ones sold at hardware stores for $4 to $6 each, and the pickle buckets also have a snap-on lid. (Photo shows soft black seal ring on underside rim of lid). A busy burger joint will empty one to three buckets a week, depending on the season. It is inconvenient for most small businesses to recycle the buckets, so they get thrown into the business' dumpster, then go into a landfill. The plastic could be recycled, but reuse is more efficient, and it actually saves the business manager money to keep the buckets out of his dumpster.
I regularly visit a nearby chain burger joint, and its manager has his buckets rinsed and set aside for me to pick up when I drop by. I offer them free to friends and neighbors and to a charity that helps local folks. You could do the same in your neighborhood, or just get a few for yourself. Bakeries, donut shops and the cake departments of grocery stores also get ingredients in buckets, and they are all much easier to clean than buckets used to ship paint and drywall compound.

Step 2: Clean the Buckets

Pickles are shipped in a salty acidic liquid, and a bucket and lid should be sloshed with hot soapy water, rinsed and allowed to air dry outdoors before use. Food-grade plastic is not absorbant, but even a little acid and salt could attack metal items stored in a bucket. To get the lid really clean, you should remove the flexible seal ring from the lid and clean it as well. Remove the ring without damaging it, when the lid is wet with soapy water, by rapping one edge of the lid hard against a solid surface. Pull the ring out by the part of the ring that slips out as a result of the rapping.
A plastic band is zipped off the lid when a bucket is first opened, and without that band, a lid will not reseal as tightly as its original seal. You can get a pretty good reseal by pressing the edge of the lid down all around. Opening a sealed lid can be tough on the fingertips, but you can buy a simple one-piece plastic tool for opening buckets at Sprawlmart, home center or paint store.
If you want to try to sell some buckets, it would probably be a good idea to remove all its paper labels.
Click to visit the official web page of the International Pickle Bucket Rescue League, featuring official spokespail "Bucky." The Buckster and I are pleased with the way it turned out,



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    119 Discussions

    I receive a dozen 5 gallon buckets every week with dry chlorine in them. After I use the chlorine I have no use for them. I have about 50 of them, I don't want them going to a landfill, if anybody wants any they can have them free, I'm in Manhattan Beach.

    4 replies

    Rick, what industry are you in? I would like to find someone similar to you that's in my area

    hi I was wondering if you still have buckets available if so can you let me know I don't stay far from you close to south bay and looking for them for my students project thank you for your time

    Can you degrease ones thatt have had oiil?/ for gardening

    excellent. I use these for different projects and never thought of burger joints to get them. Thanks for the tip.

    Just got 3 today (2 will become garden buckets because they don't have lids). All I did was call around to a bunch of fast food places and asked. Didn't pay for any of them! Calling a bunch more places tomorrow.

    Cool! Unfortunately, link is uncorrect :(

    Maybe, somebody live in Russia, Saint-Petersburg and can give me couple of buckets? :) I hope... I hope...


    2 years ago

    I live in New Haven County, CT. Does anyone know of any free buckets? I don't drive but I could find a way to pick them up. Need them for a Garden & Storage. T.Y. Love ALL the Idea's you've shared with me.

    I need that gallon for my container vegestables garden need 20/5galoon


    me too I need that bucket for my container vegestables garden please.

    I need 10/gallon.Thank you.

    Im looking for 80 / 5 gallon used food grade buckets for a project. Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Thanks

    Looking for empty four 5 gallon buckets in fort worth, tx. Asap

    spent a few hours today trying to wrangle buckets and thought I'd share my results with everyone.

    I want to do
    container gardening on my deck and don’t want to have to spend a fortune
    on pots. I saw this article and was excited. The buckets would be
    perfect for a single tomato plant!

    My first stop was Panera Bread. They were able to give me 3 5-gallon
    buckets, they were indeed pickle buckets. They are soaking now to help
    reduce the pickle smell (I personally do not like pickles!). A second
    Panera later in the day resulted in being told that we could dumpster
    dive for them. Not sure I want them that badly.

    Then on to Burger King – they said they normally just throw them in
    the dumpster, but would stack them next to the dumpster and I could come
    by periodically and pick them up. The manager I was talking with said
    she would love some tomatoes – wink wink. I will definitely bring her
    some if I am successful and actually do pick up some buckets from her

    Next was KFC, McDonald’s and Subway. All of them say they no longer
    get the buckets, either the food is delivered in different containers or
    no containers at all. HyVee Bakery (food store) said they didn’t have
    any but a second HyVee bakery turned up a single frosting bucket that
    was square and maybe 3 gallon. Wendy’s manager was no where to be found
    but the cashier said they had buckets and they go into the dumpster in
    the morning when prep is done. I may pop back over there at another time
    and actually track down the manager. I eat at Wendy’s a lot, so
    hopefully it will be successful in the future.

    Good luck in finding your own buckets. I haven’t quite decided if it
    isn’t worth the $4 that a bucket and lid would cost me at HomeDepot. My
    time and gas have to be worth something.

    We have a load of empty 5 gallon plastic buckets for FREE. Must be able to pick them all up! Unless you can arrange for several folks to come together to remove all of them. We are closing down our DUMBO (down town Brooklyn) warehouse and must get rid of them all. Contact me at provide your name and contact info - telephone and email address. Thank you!

    I live in the OC and looking for bucket for a gardening project can any one help me

    Panera (st. Lois bread company too) still uses pickle buckets, and the cherry filling for pastries comes in large buckets as well