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Ways to Reuse Pill Bottles

Updated on September 7, 2017
Virginia Allain profile image

Minimalism is catching on and I'm excited about streamlining. I'm sharing what I've learned about decluttering and simplifying our lives.

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What to Do with Pill Bottles

More people are looking for frugal ways to reduce waste. The question of how to reuse empty pill containers brought dozens of suggestions. I love how creatively people are repurposing this common item.

Take a look at the multitude of ideas I've assembled for you. Use them in your car, in your purse, in a sewing kit, while camping, and many more places.

Although a prescription bottle is a fairly small item, if someone takes multiple medications, they pile up quickly. Every household in the country probably has some of these orange containers in their medicine cabinet or on their kitchen counter. Tossing the empty ones creates a lot of waste over time.

Remove the Labels And Clean the Bottles Well

Soak them in warm water to make the label easy to peal off.  Wash the interior with soapy water, rinse, and let them completely air-dry.
Soak them in warm water to make the label easy to peal off. Wash the interior with soapy water, rinse, and let them completely air-dry. | Source

10 Things to Store in Empty Pill Bottles

  • Hairpins
  • Thumb tacks
  • Paper clips
  • Needles (for your sewing kit)
  • Q-tips (when traveling)
  • Jewelry (when traveling)
  • Nails (for the workbench)
  • Quarters (keep a bottle in the car for toll booths)
  • Quarters (keep a bottle with your detergent for washing clothes at the laundromat)
  • Seeds from your flowers (to keep them dry so you can plant them next year)

Make a Device for Calling Turkeys

5 Fun Things to Do with Old Prescription Bottles

  • Store your Chuckie Cheese (game coins) tokens in them.
  • Put some colorful beads in one with a childproof lid. Keep it in your purse for waiting rooms. Let your child play with it. They like to shake it. It makes a fun diversion for a parrot or cockatoo also.
  • Root some plant cuttings in the window sill.
  • Make a gag gift for a retirement party. Fill with M&Ms and make faux prescription labels saying "take one for improving your golf game" or "take daily for energy to get up off the sofa."
  • After thoroughly cleaning them, put them in the kid's play kit for playing doctor and nurse. It's probably best not to put anything inside, so they won't confuse candy with medicine.

Store Buttons in the Empty Containers

If you have a lot of buttons, sort them by colors into different pill bottles. Write the color on the side of the bottle or put a label on it.
If you have a lot of buttons, sort them by colors into different pill bottles. Write the color on the side of the bottle or put a label on it. | Source

Uses for Sewing

  • Keep needles in one
  • Store pins in one
  • Make a mini-sewing kit in one with needle, thread, spare button, etc. for traveling
  • Sort stray buttons into them for later use

Uses for Empty Pill Bottles for Travelers or Campers

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  • Put shampoo in one bottle.
  • Put conditioner in another for camping.
  • Assemble a miniature first-aid kit in one, for your purse, backpack, or car.
  • Put matches in one for camping with a bit of sandpaper on the lid.
  • Fill them with seasonings and spices (label them with a Sharpie).
  • Make a fire starter kit for camping: include dry bits of flammable items such as a cotton ball.
  • Make a survival kit for backpacking or to slip into your pocket while walking in the woods (see the video below for what to include).

Make a Survival Kit in a Pill Bottle

Places to Turn in or Send the Bottles

  • Take them back to the pharmacy. Most pharmacies recycle. Some have a charge for recycling them (like 5 cents).
  • Save them for your humane society. They get pet meds in bulk and use the bottles for their meds. (Call first to be sure your local society needs them)
  • Check with a local veterinarian to see if they can use them.
  • Donate to a school that collects them. There's a process to melt them down and pour the melted plastic into molds to make benches. Here's how they make the benches.
  • Some churches collect them for use in medical shipments to Africa. Go to Matthew 25 Ministries link to see the instructions and types of pill bottles they need.
  • Gimme 5 Recycling - Pill containers are a level 5 recyclable which some local recycling does not want mixed in with regular plastic. Gimme 5 Recycling takes these containers. Check for drop-off locations near you by clicking on the link. Many of these are at Whole Food stores.


The school nurse sends them to Haiti. Many areas of Haiti don't have bottles, they wrap their medicines in leaves, so the school nurse collects them and sends them.

Recycling Turned into Benches

Prescription Containers Are Handy for Many Things

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If you find a tick on you, put it in a prescription bottle to take to the doctor to test it for Lyme's Disease.

© 2017 Virginia Allain

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