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Ways to Reuse Your Old Polycarbonate Bottles

April 25, 2008

If you’ve recently opted to replace your #7 polycarbonate water bottles with metal or non-BPA plastic ones, you’re probably wondering what you can do with all those old bottles (especially the more memorable ones), beyond recycling them.

Here are two ideas to get the creative juices flowing:

  • For $19.95 you can buy a solar-powered LED LightCap200 from SolLight and turn any standard water bottle into a weatherproof lantern for the backyard, treehouse, boat, or wherever, no batteries required. If you wanted to string a bunch of Nalgenes around your yard that could get pricey pretty quickly though.
  • I also came across this idea for using a bottle to store a first aid or emergency kit inside your car or to take along while traveling. Add a light cap and there's no need for a flashlight. Obviously this idea can be extrapolated for storing other non-liquid, non-food items.

Have an idea for turning polycarbonate water bottles into something safe, functional, and affordable? Musical shakers, perhaps? Share it with us.


Heck yea... warm up some water on the camp fire, put in the bottle, toss in the bottom of your sleeping bag. HEAVEN!

Even better...add a LightCap for a nightlight to see what's crawling around in there...

Josh, ye ol' boiling water in the Nalgene placed in the sleeping bag is awesome on a cold fall or winter night. When camping with my kids, I usually give them each one to keep their feet warm.

Pee bottle.

I like the lightCap idea. Guyot designs has a battery operated version, the FireFly, that has a dimmer.

Better yet, how about drilling a 5/16" or 3/8" hole in the center of the lids, adding a small string of white christmas lights and presto, the coolest party/deck lights on the block. (Don't hang the strung bottles by the light wire. Add an additional string or wire to each bottle lid loop to support the weight.)

I like the lights ideas.

Just a few ideas.
Works great for storing emergency/survival kit.
Ad a plastic baggy and trail mix, water poof, near unbreakable container.
Prewrap meats, and store in bottle, keeps animals (all but the biggest) out, may keep the food smell down as well.

How about a terrarium for the kids? Light up a little jungle scene at night vs. a nightlight. Stick it in the sun to grow the plants and charge the light at the same time...

Thank you Alicia for writing about our LightCap200, we really appreciate it! :) Thank you to everyone who has posted comments, too! Great suggestions. Have a wonderful week and thanks again. Rosalie (

Sorry, but since I'm not an Environmentalist Wacko, I'll pass on the hysteria (I'm a scientist) and continue to use my polycarbonate bottles since I don't heat them, run them in a dishwasher or carry volatile liquids in them.

I'm sure I'll also continue to use my Nalgene bottles once in a while, primarily because they fit so nicely on my filter, although I prefer the Sigg aluminum bottles for a number of reasons.

However, I'm reluctant to label those who express legitimate concerns as "environmentalist wackos" (a very scientific term) and I wonder what kind of scientist would do so. How much of an environmentalist do you have to be before you become a wacko?

That's one of the problems with forums such as this--it's too easy to minimize others, and their concerns, with deprecating labels.

Standard water filters will fit on the Guyot Designs stainless steel bottle too.

We like to freeze fresh water in ours and help keep the coolers cooler for longer in the summer. Plus, as they thaw out, they make a great freshwater rinse for salty paws and faces!


Sorry, but since I'm not an Environmentalist Wacko...

Your not an environmentalist, junior, your a scientist.

Back to the topic...

The clear or smoke colored bottles are great for collecting specimens of insects and aquatic macro invertebrates.

Be great if Nalgene collected up the millions of bottles that they sold, and re-used the material for other products in another industry. Otherwise, there will be millions of pounds of additional waste lasting several thousand years.

Check around, there ARE recycling centers that take #7 (PC)plastics. We have one within 40 miles or so from us. We're collecting them from our friends and family, and keeping them in a bag in the trunk of the car. The next time we travel in the direction of the recycling center, we'll be dropping off a dozen or more.

Remember, if you do recycle your bottles, save the lids as spares. They're safe, at least for now. ;)

Nalgene bottle make the best Geocaching containers!

Backpacker's humidor.

I had some Le Hoyo Du Depute cigars stored in a Gladware container on a trip earlier this month. A hailstorm hit one night (5/9) and the stones managed to crack the top of the container. The cigars didn't get so wet that they were unsmokable, however I will be keeping my stogies in a Nalgene from now on.

The sound of hail on a rain fly is just amazing.

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