Waste Re-use Tips

From the community – For the community

Following an Orkney Zerowaste presentation at the Orkney International Science Festival, these are some of the tips the audience members gave us with regards to what to do with common household waste.

Plastic bottles

• built a bottle greenhouse
• cloches to protect young plants
•  weather gage
• spaghetti storage
• watering funnel/watering system
• water containers for watering plants
• Fill with pebbles and use as a toy/musical instrument
• Slug trap
• Bird scarer: attach several bottles to a cord between canes which hangs over the crops.
• Insulation

Yoghurt pots

Most yoghurt pots cannot be recycled but some can be sent away for re-use.  Terracycle will upcycle and recycle some waste materials including yoghurt pots into new products. 

Also check with the schools, nursery and playgroups if they are interested in them for craft activities.

Other good uses of old yoghurt pots are:
• growing seedling (leek, flowers,...) to plant out later
• scoop for bird food
• bird feeder: simply collect your waste cooking oil and whilst still warm, carefully pour it into an old yoghurt pot, then sprinkle bird seed into it for a great bird treat! You can even attach a string through the middle, put in fridge to harden, remove pot and hand the ‘cake’ from a tree in the garden
• Making ice-lollies
• Paint pot
• Use as cloches in the garden
• Use as a bird bath in the bird table
• Nail several to a shelf or workbench to hold nails and screws
• Use in school to hold crayons, rubbers and so on
• Stick a hole through the top, turn up-side-down and put over new growing shoots
• Game: secure flat side down, write different scores inside and then throw balls at them.  The highest score wins!
• Doll’s hat
• Place one on top of the other and secure the centre.  Useful for storing peas, plants, small items and knick knacks
• Put in stones or seeds and glue two together to be used as a shaker.
• Make into a yoghurt pot octopus.  Draw a face on the yoghurt pot and attach strings underneath.
• Polyfilla pot-mixing
• for shaking the dice in a board game
• sand pies; water and sand play
• building and stacking games
• jelly mould


• seed pots
• fire logs (take log maker)
• fold up into fire lighters
• newspaper/magazine Christmas decorations
• make your own envelopes
• paper wallet for children to play with
• use as cat litter
• bedding for chickens and animals
• make into paper maché and handmade paper
• put in your compost

Plastic tubs/trays from fruit and vegetables

If you can’t buy your fruit and vegetables loose, find another use for the packaging:
• seed trays in the garden
• grow lettuce in your greenhouse or conservatory
• storage for nails, screws and other small items
• rubbish box for tea-bags
• container for paints

Ice-cream and butter tubs

• storage for crayons, small items,...
•  use them to freeze your home cooked meals and leftovers

Juice and milk bottle lids

• mix your paints
• collect wild seeds


• bird scares
• mobile
•  cover with felt and use as coasters
• Reflectors
•  Cut up and stick to a ball to make a disco-ball
•  Some companies also recycle CD’s by making them into clocks etc.  Check online!


Cans can easily be recycled but also fun to make into a:
• penholder
• paint brushes holder
•  Put strings through and make walkabout feet
•  Pierce the tin with holes and use it as a tea light holder.  The light will shine through the holes and create a lovely atmosphere in the room
Cardboard tubes (from toilet and kitchen rolls)
• Grow seedlings and plants
• Planters for broad beans, peas,...
• excellent for the compost bin
• paint and use as pen holder
• Make into child’s binoculars by sticking two rolls together.  These can then be painted to look really funky!
• Four tubes function well as legs for a doll’s table
• Puppets legs
• Children can paint several tubes and join them together with string into a colourful snake to play with 

Jam Jar

• Storage
• Take the bottom out and use to protect plants
• Re-use for jam, preserves and chutneys

Bubble wrap

• wrap plants and plant pots in to protect from frost
• give to local potters, art galleries if large enough to reuse
• use for sending breakables by post

Carrier bags

Carrier bags can’t be recycled and cause serious environmental damage. While plastic carrier bags are efficient and use 70% less plastic than they did 20 years ago, they are still made from polyethylene (PE) which is derived from non-renewable oil and require energy to manufacture.

Plastic bags are recyclable and are increasingly being recycled, but the majority still end up in landfill where they may take hundreds of years to break down. Increasing the recycled content of new plastic bags is a way of using fewer natural resources and reduces their impact on the environment. (Zero Waste Scotland, 2011)

Plastic bags are also responsible for the deaths of huge numbers of marine species, who mistake the bags for food.    So avoid using plastic bags altogether and knit your old ones into a new bag.  You will need about 60 to make a new bag.

Old tiles

• make into ceramic plant markers
• Make into unique coasters by painting them and sticking some felt underneath

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