How can I reuse or recycle plastic milk bottles?

Plastic milk bottleA few weeks ago, on the coconut shells post, I found a very cool way to reuse plastic milk bottles to make covered bird feeders for small birds (UPDATE – the link I had has stopped working, the next best one uses big milk jugs but the same principle applies to smaller bottles too, from a 2pint/1ltr upward).

But as we’ve only got one tree in the garden (and that’s not really a tree, it’s an overgrown bush which is very cat-accessible), I’d love to find out other ways to reuse them rather than just slinging them in the recycling bin.

Any ideas?

Best Suggestions

  • Reduce: Use a milk delivery company if available in your area – their glass bottles are sterilised and reused again and again.
  • Reuse: There are lots of reuses around the home and garden: whole, they’re easy-pour storage for flour/other dry goods, as watering cans – or filled with water, exercise weights. Cut up, they can be used as scoops for dry pet food (or pet poop!), planters, slug traps and bird feeders.
  • Recycle: Most plastic milk bottles are made from HDPE – plastic number 2 – which is widely recyclable.
  • See the comments below for more suggestions and ideas

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69 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle plastic milk bottles?”

  1. Carly says:

    We get the big four pint bottles and when we’re done with them, I clean them out and let them dry, then decant flour into them.

    They’re a lot easier to store and are more airtight than open flour bags, and they’re easier to pour from too.

    And the best thing about them is their much, much cheaper than flour containers that you buy in the shops!

  2. Mike says:

    carefully poke a few small holes in the lid and it becomes an in-door plant watering can.

  3. Ina says:

    Cut them through in the middle, poke holes in the bottom and use them as plant pots. As they are square, you can fit a lot more on the windowsill than of round ones. If you use the larger bottles and make the pots shallower, they are small seed trays.
    (Not my own idea, I’ve nicked it off a friend – but I think it’s very useful, especially at this time of the year when I constantly seem to be running out of pots and seed trays!)

  4. bev says:

    If you carefully cut away the bit of plastic infront of the handle then poke holes in the bottom, you can use them as hanging plant pots – hang either from hooks, branches or do a row on a piece of dowel or 1×2 piece of wood.

  5. louisa's mum says:

    refill with water and use them as weights for excercise routine.start with 1 pint bottles and work up.good luck.bye bye to bingo wings

  6. Silky says:

    i also cut these containers to get rid of the top but to leave the handle intact.. ehn use as a scoop for compost, dry pet food etc. of course you can hve several sizes too as the bottles come in several sizesthey are also useful in the garden when potting and even digging a little to make holes for plants.


  7. Cilla says:

    If you have a washing line or rotary clothes dryer.

    You can put the feeder on there and best thing is the cats can’t reach them

  8. Another gardening use: I cut them up and use the flat parts for labels in the garden. You can write on the outside with a permanent marker.

  9. Rory says:

    I use them on my allotment as slug traps. Cut a little flap-door in one side about half way up, and bury the bottom half of the bottle in the soil. The flap door should be about an inch above the surface of the soil so the beetles don’t fall in. Now open the screw lid and pour in some old beer & water (I get beer slops free from my local pub). Put the lid back on and wait for the piles of drunk, drowned and eventually festering dead slugs inside! You can empty it on your compost bin and re-use the bottle again. I have about 30 of these all over my allotment this year and it is working great.

  10. andrew says:

    simply cut of the top and use as a rain water collecter in the garden

    • skyweeder says:

      andrew wrote:

      simply cut of the top and use as a rain water collecter in the garden

      Be sure to check frequently for mosquito wigglers. You don’t want to be breeding your own predators!

  11. cutebanana says:

    reuse them by making a water bomb for the kids to play with…

  12. john says:

    You can build a Harmonica Microphone using a plastic milk bottle and a mineral water bottle.

    Obviously, you need some electrical components (£16 worth) and some soldering skills, but it’s the shape that’s the important thing:

  13. melinda says:

    One can cut guitar picks from plastic milk bottles.

    They make food funnels with the bottom cut off.

    My gift tags on Christmas gifts this year were cut from plastic milk bottles- modeled on the plastic tags that come on bread bads, but bigger. I use drawstring bags to “wrap” gifts and these went well around the drawstrings. I used a permanent marker to write on them.

    They can be cut into sections to separate hamburgers when freezing them.

  14. Singist says:

    poke small holes around the bottom of the milk container and hang them over your hanging baskets, first thing in the morning and/or after dark. It drip feeds the baskets so they don’t dry out

  15. Andrew Whittington says:

    By trimming off the bottom of the plastic milk bottle at an angle, they make great poop scoops for your cat litter tray, or place a plastic bag inside, and use them when your outside walking your dog, and want a hands off approach to removing that poop and bagging it for the bin.

  16. Katerina says:

    They are very easily cuttable, and if you have time and patience – you cut shapes from them, and use them for making jewellry or put them on long strings and make curtains for the door or window. It is easy to make holes in pieces with thick needle.
    If you are getting sharp corners – you can sand or file tem, or heat them up lightly so the sharp bits would melt.
    If you make loads of them – you can use them for decorating clothes (put needle through the hole on the top, and put couple of beads through, then back through the hole – you can make fish-scale effect on bags etc. like this.)
    Use the bits for decoration on the belts, or make bigger shapes and make the whole belt out of them.

  17. Katerina says:

    I just thought of another one – you can use it to make a lamp !look here:

  18. Delusion says:

    As I have a fear of spiders but my partner isnt always around, I find these “frosted” bottles excellent for catching them.

    Putting a clear glass/container over them means you can still see the little sucker which creeps me out.

    The frosted containers means you can see a shadow so you know you’ve caught it but you cant see all the creepy details :p

    Makes it easier to cast it outside!

    • hi baby says:


      • Anonymous says:

        think about when you recycle them the people that manu facture and recreate the bottles, will end with a lot of gas whick can affect the earths atmosphere.

  19. skyweeder says:

    I made a double bird feeder with two of the bottles. Just cut circles on the sides big enough for the birds to get in and get the birdseed, and burned holes for drainage in the bottom with an electric soldering iron. I then mounted one on each end of a curtain rod amd attached the rod to a long aluminum pole (the kind you use to keep a long clothes line from sagging in the middle). Eventually they disentegrate, but I have a steady supply waiting in the wings to replace them. It helps to put a piece of PVC in the ground to put the pole in.

  20. Roran says:

    Use It as a terrarium. A small pot of plant but it must be sealed up and the plant will survive by itself even without water for a whole months!

  21. Danil says:

    Use them as lamps

  22. ..... says:

    make traps…..

    • kre8ivekween says:

      wat the hell?? thats weird….. u could at least tell us how to make the traps. why publish something if you dont explain how to make something?? oh wait.. im doing that too! haha this is weird

      chow baby

  23. Roran says:

    Use It as a terrarium. A small pot of plant but it must be sealed up and the plant will survive by itself even without water for a whole months!!!!

  24. guy says:

    a biscuit tin if the top and the handle
    is cut off

  25. guy says:

    a planter

  26. Katie says:

    Water carrier
    If you know anyone who goes camping or a camping site near you, give them to them. We camp and have found the water containers very heavy and expensive to buy, so we now use a couple of plastic milk bottles. Now the kids can fetch the water.

    We have also collected enough for the kids to make a small raft for on the beach. All we used was a couple of broom handles and lots of string/rope (or cut up plastic bags) to tie every thing together. It took the kids all day putting it together and oh what fun they had, even working as a teem (never herd of in our house)!

  27. Nicole says:

    I rinsed out a gallon jug and now use it to collect water as I heat up the water for a shower, then use the water to water my plants.

  28. ... says:

    bird feeder

  29. K8e says:

    Hey all,
    there are some great suggestions here however I am after a solution for a large number of milk bottles. From 20 – 30/week and though I put them in the recycle it fills up very quickly and I would like to find a clever way to reuse them.

    My work means I am somewhat time challenged and my recycle is full when it is only half way through the fortnight.

    I look forward to your ideas.

    • Carolyn says:

      Have you thought about squeezing the air out of them and putting the tops back on, they hardly take up any space then.

  30. Kelly says:

    I refill them with water and use them in ice chest when fishing

  31. michelle says:

    I love the idea about cutting it up and putting them in between burgers…brilliant. Not sure about the gift tag idea, but I’ll think about it.

  32. AMY WALTER says:

    why dont u just recycle them or something?

    • louisa says:

      This page is about the “or something”.

      It’s better to reuse something than just recycle it – usually because it helps you “reduce” your need for another thing.

      Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

  33. Ruairi says:

    These are great suggestions guys. Well done for all the ideas!

  34. stacey says:

    i wouls cut it down into a birds nest and hang it up on a tree

  35. tracey says:

    you can swill it out and use it for a diffrent drink

  36. thestoob says:

    From Ryter Design. This is a brilliant use of milk containers, soda containers, etc.

    Be sure to click through to the Ryter Design website for more ideas. It’s in German, I think, but the pictures tell it all.

  37. great
    ideas thanks alot you peps!

  38. Esmeralda says:

    You can cut the top part of milk jugs off and cut a handle from the top to glue to bottom, decorate with padding covered in fabric, lace, glitter, ect. and make your own easter basket.

  39. Cheri says:

    I would like to know if we could use empty milk jugs with the lids on to be “filler” in the bottom of a 3 layer-raised- garden bed. Do they give off any dangerous chemicals that would affect garden vegetables? Has anyone tried this before?
    Thanks for your help.

  40. addy says:

    and if all of those don’t work….

    i tie string to them, hang them from a tree and use it for target practice ;D

  41. Alice says:

    I cut strips out of these to use for plant labels. Write on them with permanent marker.

  42. 2 litre milk bottles can be used to make tree gaurds –

  43. Nancy says:

    did you know oil is used to make plastic bottles? the oil seeps into anything you put into the bottle.not healthy at all.hubby is a milk man, so he knows how plastic bottles are made.

  44. Nastia says:

    Fill the empty bottles with water or sand and keep stacking them around the flower bed like a border.

    Cut our a hall big enough for your foot to go through and use as funky garden shoes.


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