10 Things To Do With Empty Containers

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Most of the time when we’re finished with an old container–like a bucket or a cardboard box–we just throw it out. Well, how about a few ways to recycle those containers and help keep them out of landfills? Here are a few uses for those old containers that will help you recycle and save a little money.


Buckets are one of the oldest inventions known to humankind, and of course one of the oldest uses for them is to fill them with water. Well, here’s a way to make a camp shower out of a bucket instead of having to buy an expensive one from the store. Take the bucket and drill some holes in the bottom, then cover the holes with some duct tape. Fill the bucket with water, and when you want to take a shower peel off the tape. If you want to warm the water before you shower then find a black bucket, or just paint the one you have. After you have filled it with water leave it in the sun for a few hours. The black color will reflect the heat into the bucket and heat the water. One of my Mom’s favorite types of buckets are pickle buckets from Firehouse Subs.

Altoids Tins

Altoids tins are great for making small kits like a fire starting kit, a first aid kit, and even a pocket survival kit. You can take an altoids tin and fill it with bandages and alcohol wipes for a first aid kit, or matches and some magnesium shavings for a fire starting kit. If you want to make a pocket survival kit then you can fill it with a little of both plus perhaps a small knife, water purifying tablets, a compass, or whatever you think you might need. Here are two of my Dad’s favorite ways to use Altoids tins: Altoids Candle Stove and DIY Altoids Fire Starter Kit.


Cardboard is another item with a million uses. Did you know that cardboard can help you hammer small nails without bending them or hitting your fingers? Take a piece of cardboard and push the nail through (after you have positioned it where you need it), then hold the edge of the cardboard and hammer the nail in. The cardboard should add some extra support to the nail, and by holding the edge of the cardboard your fingers will be away from the hammer and out of danger.

Coffee Cans

It’s been said that organization is the key to success. After a few cups of coffee you’ll probably have some organizing energy that can be put to good use with a few empty coffee cans. If you want to organize small items like nuts, bolts, and screws in the garage then coffee cans are perfect. Take a few coffee cans (or any cans really) and fill them with screws, nuts, bolts or whatever you want to store.  If you want to label your cans then you can take some tape and label each one and you can also drill a hole so you can hang it on the wall.

A ½ Gallon Milk Jug

You can make a scoop out of a milk jug. Take an empty ½ gallon milk jug and cut diagonally from just below the handle to the opposite bottom corner. Now you have a scoop that can be used to scoop anything like ice, dog food, or even mud out of a hole.

Water Bottle

Help keep plastic water bottles out of landfills by re-purposing them. One of the most useful ways is to make a funnel. If need a funnel for changing the oil in your car (or another dirty job) and you don’t want to sacrifice a good one from the kitchen you can make one out of a water bottle. Take an empty water bottle and cut the bottom off. Then unscrew the cap and you have a disposable funnel.

A Gallon Milk Jug

The next best thing to a bucket is an empty gallon milk jug. Here’s an easy way to recycle milk jugs and water your garden. If you need a watering can for your plants take an empty gallon milk jug and punch a few holes near the top with an ice pick or screwdriver. Then fill the jug with water and tilt it forward – you now have an improved watering can.


Plastic jars are a good way to keep things from getting crushed or wet while camping. You can take a clean, empty peanut butter jar and use it to store things like matches or paper money. You can also store food items in jars, such as chips or trail mix, to keep them from getting crushed.

2-liter Soda Bottle

Here’s an idea that helps you distribute water rather than contain it. If you need a sprinkler for your garden you can make one out of a soda bottle. Take the bottle and cut a few slits in the side at different angles. Then attach the hose to the bottle and use some duct tape to secure it. Then turn on the faucet and the water will shoot out the sides of the bottle and water your plants.

Egg Cartons

If you are starting a fire in your barbecue you can use recycled egg cartons to help kindle your briquettes instead of having to stuff newspaper into your grill. Take an empty egg carton (use the ones made out of cardboard, not styrofoam) and place a piece of charcoal into each slot. Then place the egg carton into your grill and light the edge of the carton. Once the egg carton is fully burned then your charcoal should be nice and hot. You could also fill an egg carton with tinder, like small twigs and leaves, to start a fire in your fireplace or to start a campfire. Here’s another handy way to use egg cartons.

There’s a ton of other uses for recycled containers, especially Altoids tins. My dad even made a candle out of one. If you have any other uses for Altoids tins or any recycled containers please share them in the comments below.