Five ways to reuse plastic milk bottles

Plastic milk bottles. Sign reading
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Every year, we use around 7.7 billion single-use plastic bottles in the UK. Many of those end their lives in landfill sites, or in our oceans and waterways. It’s estimated to take over 400 years for a plastic bottle that isn’t recycled, to decompose. That’s a long time.

Switching to glass milk bottles, or refillable water bottles is the best way of reducing plastic waste. But if you do have some empty bottles, there are lots of different ways you can use them for crafts, or to create something useful in the garden.

Here are five quick and easy ideas to reuse plastic milk bottles that you can do on your own or with the kids:

Snowman Lantern

Snowmen lanterns are quick and easy to make and a fun winter craft to keep the kids occupied. You just need plastic milk bottles, some craft supplies like felt, glue, old hats or fleece material, and either a string of battery-operated Christmas lights, or tea light.

Young children will need help cutting out the shapes, but after that, they can have fun creating cute snowmen, women, or animals.

Christmas crafts from plastic bottles
Snowman lanterns

Milk bottle lanterns

These lanterns are another easy and fun way to give empty plastic milk bottles a new lease of life. You just need some pipe cleaners, pens, stickers or paint, and battery tea lights.

Cut the bottles in half and let the kids decorate them however they want. You’ll need something to make two holes on either side of the lantern, then thread through the pipe cleaner to make a handle. Add the tea light and you’re done!

Christmas crafts with plastic bottles
Milk bottle lantern

Bird feeder

Creating a feeder is a great way of encouraging smaller birds to come into your garden in the colder months. They also help younger children understand more about some of the animals that we see in our outdoor spaces, and how we can look after them.

The great thing about bird feeders is you don’t need much outside space to use them, so they work just as well hung out of a window in a high-rise flat, as they do in a garden.

Use a plastic milk bottle, cut out holes in the sides so the birds can access the food, add a stick for them to land on, and holes at the top so you can add string. Then decorate however you like!

Milk bottle bird feeder


Creating unique animals from unwanted milk bottles is a great way of keeping little ones occupied, and giving single-use plastic a new purpose in life. Cut the top off the milk bottle at the bottom of the handle, which then forms the trunk. Then cut some arches for the legs.

The kids can then decorate the elephants however they want. Sticking paper on, or sparkles, or just painting or using pens. This post shows them decorated using tissue paper which is really effective.

milk bottle crafts
Milk bottle elephants

Reuse plastic milk bottles in the garden

There are lots of ways you can utilise plastic milk bottles in your garden. They make great hanging or static planters which are the perfect way for little ones to grow herbs. Or cut them into a scoop or jug to use them as gardening tools.

Rural Sprout shares some brilliant ways to get plastic milk bottles working hard in your garden. A lot of them will help to get little ones involved with nature, and understand better how to look after and grow food, as well as helping animals to thrive.

Milk bottle hanging planters

If you’ve come up with a useful way of giving empty plastic bottles a new purpose, leave a comment so we can all try it and if you’re looking for inspiration, have a look at this blog about one family’s eco journey.

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