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Sunday, December 9, 2007

21 Ways to Recycle Empty Prescription Bottles

By Gloria Campos in Daily Green Tips

Recent coughs and ear infections in my household have left me with a pile of empty unrecycable RX bottles sitting on my kitchen counter waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. I hate to throw them away, but Wednesday’s curbside recycling doesn’t recycle this kind of plastic here and my CVS pharmacy doesn’t recycle or reuse them either.

In an effort to find new uses for them I searched online and I have compiled a lists of these tips below.

Before reusing any empty prescription bottle in anyway take off the labels, so no one has access to your personal information and then clean and sanitize the bottles thoroughly.


1. Store seeds inside the bottles and then label the bottles according to the seeds they hold. Seeds that need to be kept cold can easily be placed inside the fridge in these bottles.

2. Glue several bottles next to each other and use the glued collection on your desk as a storage system for all your tiny things: rubber bands, paper clips, hair pins, needles, nails, bolts, screws, matches, etc. Or just place some fresh flowers inside to brighten up your office.

3. If you need a coin holder to place in your purse or your car, place your loose change in the prescription bottles. No more looking everywhere for change especially if you need to pay the toll.

4. Use these bottles to store Barbie’s high heels, jewelry etc.


5. Donate your empty prescription bottles to your local vet, animal shelters, Some places will take prescription bottles and reuse them to fill prescriptions for the animals.

6. Some free clinics also take empty prescription bottles and reuse them. Ask if you can donate yours to the free clinic in your area. Right now North Point needs large prescription bottles.

7. Homeless shelters sometimes take empty prescription bottles. Call your local homeless shelter to find out if they do.


8. Makes a nice rattle/toy for cats (not babies). Put some dried beans inside and close it tight. Then let them play.


9. If you like to paint decorative pieces and buy paint in large sizes to save money you can transfer some paint to these small containers to work on one or two projects at a time without using up all the paint or letting it dry up.


Note: I have read in several places that it is not wise to use prescription bottles for any kind of food storage due to the residue that some prescriptions leave behind so please use caution if you decide to use any of the food storage tips below.

10. Here is an early valentine gift idea that involves reusing brown prescription bottles. Susan from Houston, TX fills hers up with chocolate kisses, relabels them "Rx for a Happy Valentine's Day, lots of hugs and kisses!" and then gives them to the people she loves.

Caution: Putting candy in a prescription bottle can confuse a child. Please be careful about where you place these reused prescription bottles and your real ones. Children can’t tell the difference between one and the other.

11. Turn prescription bottles into saltshakers. Paint the bottles or leave as is. Poke tiny holes in the caps then fill them with salt or pepper and use them as saltshakers.

12. If you pack salad for lunch a prescription bottle is a tiny storage place to store some salad dressing.


13. You never know when your clothes will rip or you’ll loose a button. A Mini Sewing kits would come in handy in a case like this. Some prescription bottles are big enough to store some needles and thread and maybe more.

14. A tiny emergency kit for a cut or scrape can fit in a prescription bottle: band-aids, cotton balls, q-tips and some tiny alcohol wipes.

15. Use to neatly store plastic bags in your purse in case you suddenly need a plastic bag, say during a car ride with someone that tends to get motion sickness


16. As part of a quilting tip quilt designer Mark Lipinski suggest to store thread spools in prescription bottles to prevent it from tangling. See how here.

17. Melt them and make them into jewelry. This is supposed to be a fun kids craft. For instructions on how to melt certain types of prescriptions bottles go here.
Note: I do not know what kind of pollution this release in the air. For less air pollution maybe they can just be cut into pieces.

18. Make tiny maracas

19. Store buttons, beads and other small craft items in these bottles.

20. Make a Snowman Christmas Ornament out of a prescription bottle. For directions go here.

21. If you live in Canada you can contact PHARM-ECOLOGICAL ON-LINE!. They work with pharmacies to recycle plastics including prescription bottles.

Most pharmacies don’t recycle prescription bottles because in some cases pharmacies don’t have the equipment or manpower to do it. Prescription bottles have to be cleaned and sanitized before they are reused.


Anonymous said...

I was just dreading putting a bunch of nice Target prescription bottles in the RECYCLING bin and was searching to see if by any chance Target would take them. its such a shame they can't just use them for refills of my own same meds. There are such a massive number of prescription bottles, someone needs to affect some change here. I really appreciate your post on this. Great ideas!

Anonymous said...

What we need is recyclable plastic used to MAKE the bottles.

elliebiscuits said...

It's March and I know it's a little late, but could you please qualify Number 8 by saying if you have dogs and cats, don't do this. The dogs will chew the plastic and that is very dangerous. Great suggestions. I put a link on my site.

Andy and Melissa said...

I am a Pharmacist with Target and have been recycling our plastic prescription bottles as well as prescription stock bottles for months now with no problems. Most pharmacies are not set up to take customers bottles back to be recycle, but that does not stop customers from doing it themselves. At Target all of our bottles are made of #1 plastic (even the colored rings) so they are easily recycled. Just peal off or scribble out your personal information and toss the bottle in with your own recycling. Recycling processors wash all of the plastic by machine before using it for making new products so fear of drug contamination should be of little concern.
(Oh, and I do realize that many pharmacies do not have #1 plastic bottles... that's just another good reason to transfer your prescription to TARGET!) -- Thanks!