In an effort to dump less plastic in our trash sites, we may be considering putting our empty water bottles to use, but even then there is much controversy surrounding the issue. There are those who shout about the dangers and then those who say it is just hysteria, but everyone agrees that a reused bottle can contain bacteria if not properly sanitized. In a nutshell; one should be concerned with the buildup of bacteria within the bottle and with the possibility of the toxins in the plastic leeching out.
The mouth of the bottle contains a very small opening which makes reusing it for drinking purposes risky as bacteria can build up and is very hard to remove. Bacteria are invisible to the naked eye, so what you don’t know and can’t see, can harm you.
Secondly heat and chemicals (the same ones you may want to use to clean your container) can cause toxins to leach out of the plastic contaminating the substances held within the bottle. Another consideration is the grade of plastic. Several different grades are offered, each one posing its own risk.
Because of the risk posed by plastic, it is labeled. Most water bottles are a number 1which means they are only designed to be used once. Safer numbers are 2 HDPE meaning high density polyethylene, 4 LDPE or low density polyethylene or 5 PP (polypropylene). Number 3 bottles contain polyvinyl chloride/PVC which is capable of leaching hormone disrupting chemicals into the contents of the bottle, and dangerous carcinogens into the air we breathe when incinerated. There are also questions regarding number 6 bottles created out of polystyrene which has been shown to leach styrene thought to be a cancer causing substance. A better alternative are stainless steel water bottles.
This said there are some uses which do not involve human consumption such as:
• Pencil and pen holder. Cut the top off with scissors and use for your writing tools.
• Use the top from the previous one as a funnel to make stress balls out of water balloons and flour.
• Cut them down to about two or three inches tall and use to sort your socks or panty hose in your drawer.
• With scissors create a small hole about two inches from the top and an identical one across from it to insert a dowel in creating a bird feeder. Make a small opening on both sides for the birds to get their seed from. Tie to a tree and watch the birds feed.
• Cut the bottom out of a bottle and make a pet food scoop.
• Stick tacks in the top of one, fill with water ¾ of the way up and use to sprinkle your clothes before ironing.
• Use two stiff bottles to help maintain the shape of your boots.
• Use one to hold knitting needles and crochet hooks.
• Place one in the freezer to put in your cooler when going on a picnic to keep food cold.
• Use it for an emergency ice pack for bruises.
• Cut the top off and use it to stuff shopping bags in for when you go warehouse shopping. Place it in the pocket behind your car seat so you won’t have to buy bags when you bargain shop at the local warehouses.
• Cut the bottom off the bottle. Dig a hole in the soil near your favorite plant and fit the bottle into the soil and fill it with water from the now open bottom.
Marina Chernyak is co-owner of 1001Shops, an online store of specialty products like cheval mirrors, nesting doll, modern tables and lot more.