Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How To Reuse Your Empty Soda Bottles

I don't drink soda nor does my husband, so we rarely get soda bottles. For parties we supply our guests with what they are used to, which means for most of the US, soda. To me soda is vile. I will occasionally drink root beer, but for the last couple of years I haven't had any soda unless I've had no choice. However empty two liter soda bottles can be quite useful in the garden, so after our party I collected them and washed them out and removed the labels.

I'm not quite sure what they will be used for yet, but their uses are many. Earlier in the year I wanted them to winter sow some of my cool weather crops. I hadn't done it before, but read about so many people trying it. Sadly I had no disposable containers for this. If I'd had some soda bottles, I would have been all set. For info on winter sowing go to Wintersown.org.

You can use the soda bottles for little greenhouses for newly transplanted seedlings. Just cut the bottoms off and shove them far enough down that the wind won't blow them over. Leave the caps off during the day so they won't over heat.

My all time favorite use for them is to fill them up with water and put them in the plastic tunnel (or cold frame if you have one). During they day they heat up and provide thermal mass. At night they will often freeze before your little seedlings do. They provide some very nice frost protection. Right now I have an old milk jug under my plastic tunnel but I could use more. I'd love to line the whole back of the tunnel when I plant my tomatoes. Too bad half the lids are gone. They work best with lids so the water can't evaporate (evaporation means cooling).

I've also seen soda bottles used for watering. I've never done this myself since I have such a wet climate. I've seen them done two ways. The first is to keep the soda bottle intact. Drill a few holes in the lid. Fill the water bottle and turn the bottle over so the lid is under the soil. The water will slowly drain out over time. The second way has you cut the bottom off the soda bottle. Drill a few holes in the lid. Bury the bottle half in the earth. To water your plant, fill the soda bottle up. The second way is easier but it can't be used for more than one plant.

I've heard of making self watering containers and bird feeders out of them, but I doubt I'll do that. Do you have any interesting uses for water bottles?


  1. I've made birdfeeders and plant waterers out of mine with the help of kits, and yes, they work just fine. They make good mini-cloches, too, since you can upcap them during the day, then cap them before sunset. I like your idea of using them for passive solar gain! Since they (sob) don't biodegrade, they make great water-storage bottles in case of power failure, too.

  2. These are really great recycling tips, Daphne. I'm going to try the wintersown trick. I've seen kits where you can screw a plastic thingy into a soda bottle and have it gradually water - didn't realize that I could do this myself with a drill! One other thing I've done is make little hanging lanterns by cutting in half, punching holes near the top of the bottom section and attaching a wire to use to hang it, and tape a tealight to the bottom inside. Looks pretty outside for a party - just not on a windy night!

  3. Daphne, I have saved several of these recently. The bottoms will be cut out, and the bottle will be placed over my tomato plants if a frost comes...


  4. Hi Daphne, it is so sad to here that you don't recycle them in US, can this be true? Or have a misunderstood...


  5. They also make good shakers for little ones filled with beads. Decorate the outside, add beads, put the top on very tightly and you have a great musical instrument for your toddler.

    I use them with a watering tip on them when I have to be gone from the garden for a few days, it keeps the plants hydrated when I'm gone.

    We have friends that actually save them for me since we don't drink soda. Great post! Kim

  6. Our Friend Ben, I've never thought of keeping them for water storage. After the spring season I ought to keep them full.

    JGH, the commercial spikes are nice to keep the bottle upright, but you really don't need it. You can always rest it against a rock or something. I tend to be cheap with things so am always looking how to do things without buying things.

    EG, I usually make a plastic tunnel for my tomatoes early in the season (with the bottles filled with water inside), so I probably won't do it that way. But you never know. My pail tomatoes can't be covered as easily so they might need little cloches.

    Tyra, oh we do recycle them. In fact I rescued them from the recycle bin that my guests tossed them into. But we try to go by the three Rs. Reduce first (I don't drink soda so that is perfect, no waste with water), Reuse second (which I'm working on now), and Recycle last (after you've used and abused the bottles to death).

    Inadvertantfarmer, oh that is a good one. A new toy for the toddler. I've always found that age group likes the made up toys as well as any one bought from the store. It isn't until they have gotten older and programmed by our society that they need the named brand things.

  7. Great post, Daphne. I use soda bottles, both the 2 liter and the smaller ones. Also milk cartons and juice bottles. I cut the bottoms out and use them as cloches- I just covered my sweet pea today that I set out! Thanks for stopping by today :)

  8. We don't drink much soda either, but the bottles can be handy. I've also used soda bottles as mini-cloches and as spot irrigation.

    I think our most inventive use for them was as squirrel baffles over the bird feeder poles. That was before we came up with the slinky idea.

  9. You need a friend in the restaurant biz!!! One gallon plastic containers galore!! I bet if you just popped into a sandwich place they would give you their recyclables. That is what I used for my mini green houses. One still says mustard and another is labled as blue cheese dressing...
    I had never heard of the water jug trick but it is great!! Cant wait to try it!

  10. Tessa, milk cartons are my favorite, but I don't drink milk so I never get them. I do have two old ones left over.

    Ali, Your slinky was so amusing when I read about it last year. Very creative.

    Becky, Most of my friends are computer nerds so no access to the recycle bin, but I'm keeping an eye out. I think I would really love 10"x10" containers for my soil blocks. They fit 6 blocks across and would fit under a fluorescent light very well. I've found my biggest problem with finding appropriate containers is that all the edges are rounded off. The blocks are square and I don't want rounded containers.

  11. Here is an idea about how to create amazingly inexpensive but very attractive soda bottle tomato planters.

    As you can see from the link, these planters make excellent showpieces and are sure-fire conversation starters.

    Please visit
    for more information on how to make these planters.