[Quick Build] Reusing Generic Bottles

I’ve amassed a small collection of prescription pill bottles over the past few months. It’d be wasteful to recycle them if they still have use. Years back, I put together some rowing machine tools and used some pill bottles for toothpicks and q-tips. Now, I’ve found another use for them: assorted flossing and toothpick holders. I can start using them once I’ve cleaned out the bottle of any medicine residue. How about for sticky labels?

Peanut butter has some chemical in it that removes sticky labels.

I’m not a chemist, I don’t play one on the Internet, and I’m sure there are other chemicals that can work, but I’ve been using the same peanut butter I eat since I don’t have to go buy something special like firestarter chemicals or mess with any innocuous or dangerous chemicals. This isn’t really one of those home improvement blogs where I talk about the nuances of the situation either, just more of a “hey, here’s something I built, and something I’d like to share to my readers.”

So step one is to remove the sticky label.

If there’s no residue, then you’re fine. Just use soap and water to clean off the bottle, let it dry, then you’re free to use it for cotton swabs or toothpicks or whatever you need the bottle for, and if it’s too small or doesn’t work, then you can shred the medical records of the label and recycle the pill bottle separately. Let’s say the pill bottle has some excessive sticky residue that soap and water won’t remove. Rather than ruin any brushes or cleaners, spread the peanut butter like finger paint over all of the exposed sticky residue.

Depending on how many bottles you’re working on, you can move the peanut butter around.

You can let the peanut butter sit on the label for a while, but typically, just for a few minutes should be enough time for it to remove the majority of the sticky residue. You might have to do that more than once depending on the amount of residue there is remaining. From the three pill bottles I did this on here recently, only one had just a minor amount of residue remaining and that was after just a small amount of peanut butter.

After you’re done, just clean off the peanut butter.

This is the part where I must say that if you’re using a pill bottle that stored chemicals that could be toxic to yourself and others, then, maybe, not reuse that pill bottle. I had some medications that had nasty side effects, but even with those, I was fine with just cleaning the bottles with soap and water since I could imagine the smallest amount of residue, for me, would not be overly concerning. Your mileage may very.

Now, here’s the idiot warning: Don’t do this excessively or wastefully.

Don’t be a jerk when it comes to working on this and claim it doesn’t work. It’s just a fun experiment to try to clean off labels for things that might otherwise be trashed. I’ve found it works well for me. I wouldn’t do this for expensive items or things I cared about. If I screw up cleaning one of these pill bottles and it discolors or deforms the plastic, I can throw it away. If you try it on something expensive and it breaks it, well, that’s not my problem.

Why bother doing something like this?

Well, I’ve always had a problem with remembering to floss or remove food residue from my teeth. I’ve never had anything other than minor cavities so I’ve been lucky but I figure now’s the time to take better care of my teeth. The nice thing about pill bottles is that they’re made to be transported anywhere, waterproof, and see-through.

The see-through part is the biggest deal here.

I’ve had floss-picks at my desk at work for months now, but have never used them because each time I open the drawer they’re in, I’ll forget they’re there because I just see the bag advertising the name of the product – and if you know me, I self-censor myself from seeing any advertisements – so I miss them entirely.

When I see the floss-picks or toothpicks, I remember, ‘hey, I can use these!’

The bottles themselves are small and portable enough to carry just enough for maybe about a month’s supply of teeth-cleaning tools without needing to worry about refilling them every week. The necks are wide enough to where, as long as they’re not overly full, you can grab what you need relatively easily. The screw-on cap makes sure that they don’t fall out easily as well, so there’s no need for bag to cover them up to make them watertight or secure.

There are probably other uses than what’s mentioned above.

From these examples, though, I’d say it comes down to buying in bulk versus what you’d actually use on a daily basis. Sometimes, the container that the materials you want to use just won’t do the job. Maybe, like with q-tips, you get a container of over 200 of them but only need about 25. Maybe, you need to carry some teeth-cleaners around with you so you can use them when you eat on the go, but you don’t want to carry a whole bunch of them around to never use.

Going too far can cause needless hoarding of excessive containers, however.

That’s where it’s good to keep a good balance in mind. I’ve still been hoarding the external food package boxes for later use. Sometimes, I can use them, but other times, they’re too flimsy. When they don’t do the job, I’m getting more comfortable with recycling them, which is the same for this generic bottle example. I cleaned up one pill bottle and two spice bottles. I threw out a third spice bottle that had too much spice residue for my cleaning interests.

There’s a fun project idea, if you have the inclination or interest.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: Until I get my headache situation sorted out, I’ve been trying to do more things away from computers, in general, and I wanted to clear out some of these bottles that had started to accumulate based on their use. This essay series was actually one of the first types of essays I wanted to write about, since I wanted to write more about diverse topics than just reviews and such. I have expanded out over the years, but now that I’m trying to broaden my writing horizons, I figure it might be fun to branch back out. This essay didn’t really have the steam to carry it all the way through. Sorry. I’m working through an intense headache right now. Still, I think it’s good enough to publish, because it is helpful and just irreverent enough to be the alternative to those annoying essays that I’ll see where there’s only a small turd-nugget of information crammed into all this needless ado. At least here, amongst the unnecessary text is a sort of narrative about why I came up with the idea, so you can think about similar things in your life you can reuse.
Related: Other Quick Build essays. It’s just enough of a Downsizing Zeal topic, though, where I don’t want to include it in there.
Photos: Some photos at key points along the way
Written On: 2020 January 19 [32 minutes. From 1:13am to “uses than what’s mentioned above” at 1:38am. From 1:57am to 2:04am. Gdocs.]
Last Edited: 2020 January 19 [Possible edits adapting from Gdocs to WordPress. Would this be the second draft, then?]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.