Ways to Reuse Empty Pill Bottles: Crafts, Ideas, and More

Updated on May 16, 2016
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

Inspiring...I think?!
Inspiring...I think?! | Source

40-50% of Americans take at least one prescription drug every month. This adds up to a whole lot of pill bottles, many of which you cannot toss in your regular recycling bin.

A lot of people don't want to throw them out so they explore other options. Many locations offer recycling and/or donation opportunities. There are also a lot of great ways to reuse bottles at home. Take one or two of the simple reuse options or start saving up a pile of bottles for a pill bottle craft project.

Warning: Make sure that bottles are well cleaned before any use, particularly if they will contain edibles, even if it's just another medication (i.e. extra tylenol to keep at work).

Simple Reuse and Recycle Options

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Ear bud headphones fit right in pill bottles.  This will keep them from getting tangled and/or lost in your backpack, purse, etc.Thread bobbins stack perfectly in skinny pill bottles. If you have a lot of them, consider sorting and labeling them by color.The tall pill bottles can hold up to $10 worth of quarters.
Ear bud headphones fit right in pill bottles.  This will keep them from getting tangled and/or lost in your backpack, purse, etc.
Ear bud headphones fit right in pill bottles. This will keep them from getting tangled and/or lost in your backpack, purse, etc. | Source
Thread bobbins stack perfectly in skinny pill bottles. If you have a lot of them, consider sorting and labeling them by color.
Thread bobbins stack perfectly in skinny pill bottles. If you have a lot of them, consider sorting and labeling them by color. | Source
The tall pill bottles can hold up to $10 worth of quarters.
The tall pill bottles can hold up to $10 worth of quarters. | Source
  • Store spare change. The bottle will fit right in the car, a purse, or a desk/nightstand drawer.
  • Store small office supplies. This can include paper clips, rubber bands, and more.
  • Store small craft and/or sewing supplies, such as beads, small buttons, and thread bobbins.
  • Create a glitter shaker by punching holes in the top.
  • Store small tools and repair supplies, such as nails and screws.
  • Create a sewing kit. Fill the bottle with a small spool of thread, a button, a needle, and a safety pin.
  • Create a cat toy by filling the bottle with small beans or bells.
  • Store any number of other small items, such as headphones.
  • Soak/store reeds for musical instruments.
  • Reuse with other medications, such as vitamins or Ibuprofen to keep at work or in your purse.
  • Donate. Some veterinary offices and local humane societies will take washed bottles with the labels removed to use for their animal prescriptions.
  • Recycle. Check with your local recycling center to see if they have a special method for collecting pill bottles. If they do, make a box at home for your bottles so they don't clutter up cabinets or counter space in between recycling trips.

Use a pill bottle to send a love letter or a cute message to a friend

Consider Decorating or Labeling Your Bottles

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Look for self-adhesive pearls and rhinestones to avoid glue work.There are numerous ways that you can decorate old pill bottles.If you decorate your pill bottles, consider labeling them so you'll be able to find things easily later.
Look for self-adhesive pearls and rhinestones to avoid glue work.
Look for self-adhesive pearls and rhinestones to avoid glue work. | Source
There are numerous ways that you can decorate old pill bottles.
There are numerous ways that you can decorate old pill bottles. | Source
If you decorate your pill bottles, consider labeling them so you'll be able to find things easily later.
If you decorate your pill bottles, consider labeling them so you'll be able to find things easily later. | Source

Craft Tutorials

Rainbow Crayons

Create rainbow crayons for your kids with pill bottles, broken crayon pieces, a tin can, and a small plan of boiling water.

The process of creating and pouring the layers is a little time intensive, but otherwise this project could not be more simple.

These would make great party favors or gifts to include with Valentine's Day cards.

Source

Make Up Magnet Board

Source

The pill bottles are a small component of this project, but it's still a neat idea. Depending how many brushes, lipsticks, and eye pencils you have, you can add more pill bottles.

If I were going to make this, I would take something like a dry erase board and cover it with fabric or scrapbook paper instead of painting a frame and fitting it with metal.

Her method will work just fine, but it's a little more time and labor intensive. Either way, this is a creative concept and could work well for those who have limited bathroom storage.


Light Fixtures and Garlands

There are a surprising number of light fixture/garland tutorials out there for pill bottles. They range from attaching pill bottles to Christmas light strands to creating chandeliers.

If you're ready to take on a more complex lighting project, start saving up your bottles! You'll need a whole bunch of them.

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Consider using LED light strands which do not get as hot as regular strands.What do you think of this chandelier?
Consider using LED light strands which do not get as hot as regular strands.
Consider using LED light strands which do not get as hot as regular strands. | Source
Source
Source
What do you think of this chandelier?
What do you think of this chandelier? | Source

Additional Ideas

You'll get tired of playing with the pill bottle before your dog does.

Questions & Answers

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      • vocalcoach profile image

        Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Been having a blast working with this project. Thanks again Rose!

      • vocalcoach profile image

        Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Who knew? (I didn't.) Pill bottles of every shape and size are stored in zip lock bags just waiting to be introduced to this hub. How exciting! Love these ideas and can't wait to get started on some of them. I'm a recycling mama.

        Thanks Rose.

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Linda, my best recommendation is Goo Gone. Good luck!

      • profile image

        Linda W 2 years ago

        How do you get the DARN sticky label off the vials!!!!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks so much, Kristen!

      • Kristen Howe profile image

        Kristen Howe 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

        Clever ideas, Rose. Pretty awesome too. What a thoughtful way of reusing those pill bottles for decorative purposes. Voted up!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks, tlcs! I appreciate the feedback.

      • tlcs profile image

        Trudy Cooper 3 years ago from Hampshire, UK

        Wow! Very creative way to use old pill bottles. Very interesting statistics on American's one prescription drug each month too! Makes me wonder what the statistics are in the UK. Good read.

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Sounds good, Jacobb!

      • profile image

        Jacobb9205 3 years ago

        Wow great ideas! I liked the money one I'm going to try that put a different coin or even note in each pill bottle i've finished. I use omega 3 fish oil pills :)

      • poetryman6969 profile image

        poetryman6969 3 years ago

        The pill bottle sculpture look very interesting until I realized what it was made of and thought about the poor suckers who took all those pills!

        Still, it's darned creative!

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        this pill bottles make good lightnings, very clever hub

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        That's awesome, Suzanne! I'm glad that you enjoyed. :)

      • Suzanne Day profile image

        Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

        This hub caught my eye as I'm right into upcycled crafts lately! What a great idea to recycle all the pill bottles around the house. I use them a lot for beads, safety pins, money and medicines that have fallen out of their packets. The cosmetic magnet board also looks like an intriguing project. Keep 'em coming! Voted beautiful.

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks so much, Audrey! It's great to hear that. Have fun with your old pill bottles. :)

      • vocalcoach profile image

        Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        I love all of your creative ideas for hubs. I've had so much fun with trying out the instructions. And oh boy - now pill bottle uses. Been wondering how to reuse these for years. Thanks so much! UP,U,A,I and sharing!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks, tirelesstraveler! Of course you can link, I appreciate it. :)

      • tirelesstraveler profile image

        Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

        Great ideas. Do you mind if I link this to my hub on leftovers odds and ends? Some of these ideas tickled my fancy. Love the dog video.

      • Jesus_saves_us_7 profile image

        Jesus_saves_us_7 4 years ago from Seeking Salvation

        cool ideas. great hub.

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks, Josh! Pill bottles are perfect for holding change. Taking them on the road for toll money is a great idea. Thanks for sharing that here.

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Glad that you enjoyed that!

      • Shiley profile image

        Karen Shiley 5 years ago from Washington

        What a great idea for earbud storage. I can't believe I didn't think of this myself!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks, Danielle! I'm so glad.

      • danielleantosz profile image

        danielleantosz 5 years ago from Florida

        Great ideas! Sometimes I find articles about upcycling and all the suggestions are lame, but you really had some great ones! I like the cat toy idea.

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        That's awesome, Sharkye. :) Best of luck rounding up pill bottles!

      • Sharkye11 profile image

        Jayme Kinsey 5 years ago from Oklahoma

        This is a great hub! I don't take any pills at all, but my grandmother does. It might take me awhile to save up enough, but I definitely want to make that chandelier! Thanks for the inspiration and ideas! I use two of hers already as needle cases in my sewing box, so I need only a million more!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Jackie, that wasn't my intention for this article...at all, but it's an interesting take!

      • jackiemac profile image

        jackiemac 5 years ago from orange county, ca

        This is fascinating! The nerdy part of me can't help but think about how culturally relevant the use of prescription medication is, & how creating art out of it is such a cool & interesting commentary to make! (not sure if this was at all the intention lol)

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks, creativespirit63!

      • creativespirit63 profile image

        creativespirit63 5 years ago from Omaha, Nebraska

        What inspiration! Thank you!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks, Kalux!

      • Kalux profile image

        Kalux 5 years ago from Canada

        What a cute idea! This will come in handy, can't believe I never thought of it. Thanks!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        There's no need to feel guilty about that. If you don't have a use for something, it's silly to hang on to it for that "what if." There will be lots more empty pill bottles!

      • geraldhakks profile image

        geraldhakks 5 years ago

        These great ideas now make me feel guilty for throwing all our empty pill bottles away.

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        ElleBee, you're right that there are a number of practical uses for pill bottles that aren't too hard to brainstorm on your own. It is amazing what creative ideas people have come up with for them, though!

      • profile image

        ElleBee 5 years ago

        These are so cute! I probably could have come up w/ the sorting change idea or something else mundane on my own, but I definitely never would have come up with things like the garland or the chandelier! So neat!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks katlupe! I did a lot of research about this topic. Isn't that garland fun?

      • katlupe profile image

        katlupe 5 years ago from Upstate NY

        I loved these ideas! How did you ever come up with so many? The light garland idea is excellent!!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Aw, that's fun. Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

      • profile image

        Sarah Thom 5 years ago

        I loved the crayon one. Sort of a nostalgic feeling with that though. My family would melt old crayons down to become a big mixed cookie sized crayon :]

        I think my favorite though has to be the giant chandelier pill bottle. :P

      • DragonflyTreasure profile image

        DragonflyTreasure 5 years ago from on the breeze.........

        WOW Some great dieas I would never thought of!!

        Voted up ?

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks so much, Au fait! Bave fun with your pill bottles

      • Au fait profile image

        C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

        You have so many cool hubs! Decided to check this one out because I have a gazillion pill bottles. Like your recycle ideas. Especially the decorated pill bottles and the message in a bottle for Valentine's Day. The chandeliers are really interesting too! So many great ideas as always!

        Voted you up, interesting, and useful. Will share with my followers.

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks so much Eileen!

      • Eileen Goodall profile image

        Eileen Goodall 6 years ago from Buckinghamshire, England

        Fab ideas - pinned and enjoyed, voted up.

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thank you!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks so much, Better Yourself!

      • Better Yourself profile image

        Better Yourself 6 years ago from North Carolina

        Love this hub! Such cute ideas and what a great way to recycle. Thanks for sharing!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        You're very welcome! I know, right? There are so many creative people out there.

      • suebee62 profile image

        suebee62 6 years ago from South Carolina

        Thanks for sharing. Who would have ever thought that empty pill bottles could be used for so much...very creative....

      • randomcreative profile image
        Author

        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks so much!

      • gramarye profile image

        gramarye 6 years ago from Adelaide - Australia

        Great hub! Voted up and pinned

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks!

      • Reves-diary profile image

        Reve 6 years ago from Dhaka

        This idea has been amazing. Thanks for sharing this creative idea of reusing bottles.

      • randomcreative profile image
        Author

        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks! You're right that the blue ones would be pretty when they're decorated. I could see them not working well for bead storage, though. I think that the coloring has to do with the light level required for different medications. Don't quote me on that, though.

      • MizBejabbers profile image

        Doris James-MizBejabbers 6 years ago

        Thanks for some great ideas. I save and recycle as many pill bottles as I can, but between the two of us, there are more than we can use. I never discard the blue ones we get from the vet. I love the idea of decorating the bottles and think the blue ones would be especially pretty decorated. I know there is a reason for the bottles to be colored, but they were unsuccessful for holding beads for my jewelry making because the colors don't come through. I have a couple of old clear ones that are in use, though.

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks iamaudraleigh! Those self-adhesives are great and will work perfectly for pill bottles.

        Vicki, that's great! Good luck with your bottles.

      • vicki goodwin profile image

        Sojourner McConnell 6 years ago from Winchester Kentucky

        This was perfect timing on finding this useful hub. I have removed all the labels off of the old bottles and was looking for a way to use them. Thanks for a great hub!

      • profile image

        iamaudraleigh 6 years ago

        Randomcreative, this hub has so many great ideas!!! I especially liked the photo entitled, "Look for self-adhesive pearls and rhinestones to avoid glue work". I needed good ideas on what to do with my pill bottles! Voted up and shared!!!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks so much onlooker!

      • profile image

        onlooker 6 years ago

        So many creative ideas for storage. I especially loved the glitter shaker and light fixture ideas. Thank you and Happy Birthday!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks PegCole!

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

        What great ideas and that dog video at the end was hysterical!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Haha thanks RTalloni! A number of people have shared great additional options for pill bottles, and I'm glad that people are checking out those ideas, too.

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

        Every time you leave a comment like "That's a great idea" you compel us to come back to this hub! :)

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks Leah! That's a great idea. :)

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 6 years ago from Western New York

        Great ideas for repurposing pill bottles! We're going to Myrtle Beach and I may have to bring along some old pill bottles to collect our sharks teeth and little shells in!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Marsei, nice! I have an old medicine bottle from my mom's mom that's made of glass.

        Chatkath, I've been making random creative projects way before it was cool to be green, too, so I definitely appreciate that. :)

      • Chatkath profile image

        Kathy 6 years ago from California

        Awesome! I love projects like this, even before it was cool to be green, I can remember making so many fun creations out of throw away containers! Up and awesome!

      • Marsei profile image

        Sue Pratt 6 years ago from New Orleans

        I forgot to mention that my father-in-law used green glass medicine bottles with plastic caps for his tackle. Lots of years ago!

      • Rusti Mccollum profile image

        Ruth McCollum 6 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

        Loved your hub. I have used my old pill bottles for change,still do.before you know it you've saved enough change to go on a cruise.I don't leave my house.My husband gives me his change then I put them all in my walk in closet. You had some fun ways to dress them up.Great hub. Voted up!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks Pinkchic! That's great.

        Marsei, very nice. I saw that as a suggestion in a handful of different places when I was researching for this article. I'm glad to know that it works well!

      • Marsei profile image

        Sue Pratt 6 years ago from New Orleans

        This is a great article. My father-in-law used to keep all his fishing equipment in pill bottles: one for bream hooks, bass hooks; one for weights or sinkers, as he called them. This brought back good memories and your ideas are wonderful.

        marsei

      • Pinkchic18 profile image

        Sarah Carlsley 6 years ago from Minnesota

        Great ideas! I love the bedazzled pill bottle. I'd use that for my pills now, I love that!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks Specialist! Using old bottles for hamsters, mice, and gerbils is a great suggestion. There are a lot of fun possibilities there.

      • Specialist5 profile image

        Specialist5 6 years ago from Norwich, CT USA

        Great ideas, great hub. Loved the puppy video. I recycle a lot of different size bottles for my crafts especially for the beads I use in jewelry making. Some of the bottles can be used in hamster, mice and gerble cages for them to hide/sleep and play in. You can cut the bottoms out and tape some together in a tunnel toy for mice and other small pets instead of spending lots of money to buy tunnels from the pet store. Loved the lighting fixtures. Like you said, always wash thoroughly before reusing. Voted up.

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Laura, sounds like a good plan! :)

        Thanks vintagelove and viveresperando!

      • viveresperando profile image

        viveresperando 6 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

        nice ideas!

      • vintagelove profile image

        vintagelove 6 years ago

        This is very creative! I love all of the ideas you shared. Great job!

      • LauraGT profile image

        LauraGT 6 years ago from MA

        Fantastic hub! I'll definitely add these to our arts and crafts bin, along with our toilet paper rolls and old cds!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks crazybean!

      • crazybeanrider profile image

        Boo McCourt 6 years ago from Washington MI

        Very creative hub, so many uses for pill bottles, amazingly useful ideas.

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks Scottye!

      • Scottye Davis profile image

        Scottye Davis 6 years ago

        This is so original!. I absolutely love the stalactite and stalagmite ones!!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks Laura! Have fun with the crayons. :)

      • taw2012 profile image

        taw2012 6 years ago from India

        An idea can change your life. this idea really do.

      • Laura Matkin profile image

        Laura Matkin 6 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

        Very unique ideas! Great work, I am going to use the rainbow crayon idea. My kids thank you! Laura

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Jennifer, thanks! That's great. :) Have fun!

        Nambahu, that's awesome that pill bottle coin storage has worked out well for you.

        You're welcome, Sam!

        Perspycacious, thanks! That means so much to me. I'm not going to stop (or slow down with) crafting any time soon.

      • Perspycacious profile image

        Demas W Jasper 6 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

        The inventiveness and creativity you showcase in this Hub are clear indications that you have native skills which can serve you equally well in so many different fields where those talents are keys to success and USA progress. Don't slow down or stop with crafts.

      • samdackson profile image

        samdackson 6 years ago from Colorado

        randomcreative

        Thank you response really it is useful for me

      • Nambahu profile image

        Nambahu 6 years ago from Cape Town

        I have been using my pill bottles for storing spare change. I find it appealing because the coins don't rattle when I got them in my backpack & plus they don't damage my pockets that way.

      • jenniferg78 profile image

        jenniferg78 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

        Great hub with many interesting and innovative ideas. I personally love crafting and recycling so I will definitely be giving a few of these ideas a go!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks dapple!

        GoGreen, the stand is a great use for an old bottle. Too bad you never got a free one, though.

      • GoGreenTips profile image

        Greg Johnson 6 years ago from Indianapolis

        Great hub! Great ideas on how to reuse something we all have to many of lying around. We have one of those sinus flushers and made a stand for it out of an old prescrition bottle.

        We filled out a survey for a free one, but it never came.

      • dappledesigns profile image

        dappledesigns 6 years ago from In Limbo between New England and the Midwest

        great lighting ideas!

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Thanks Sam! I'm glad that this was useful for you.

      • samdackson profile image

        samdackson 6 years ago from Colorado

        Post very nicely written, and it contains useful facts. Thanks for sharing .

      • randomcreative profile image
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        Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Sounds good, Nina!

        Megh, I haven't tried all of these ideas myself, but I do enjoy crafting with recycled materials when I can. Thanks for sharing this. :)

      • Megh Brandel profile image

        Megh Brandel 6 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

        These ideas are so nice! My sister is kind of like you who uses all those left over stuffs and make amazing ones. I will share this story with her. Thanks for sharing.

      • nina64 profile image

        nina64 6 years ago from chicago, Illinois

        What an awesome use for medication bottles. In fact, I just threw away 7 bottles on yesterday. Next time, I will make sure to keep those containers, I'm pretty sure I can find some use for them. Great hub!!!! Voted up & away!!!!!!!

      working