Transforming Single Use Plastic

CLEAR encourages communities to embrace the six Rs as the guiding principles for reducing waste output: Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repair. Ideally, the first couple of Rs would govern a waste-free lifestyle – where possible, single-use plastic should be refused and a plastic free alternative rethought. Of course there are instances where this isn’t possible and we end up with single-use plastic that can be repurposed, or upcycled, encompassing the latter 3 Rs. Upcycling is the act of reusing objects or material in a way that creates a product of higher quality or function than the original.

Below are some ideas on how to upcycle common single use plastic items:

  • Plastic bottle bird feeder.
  • Bottle lid art or decorations
  • Create a herb garden using plastic milk bottles. 
  • Hanging plant pots made out of the base of a plastic bottle 
  • Plastic bottle piggy bank 
  • Milk bottle storage containers

Recently in Geulis, one of CLEAR’s existing Waste Bank villages, an excess of large plastic bottles and ample space for planting inspired the team to create a gardening system at the waste bank. The waste bank is conveniently located close to a sheep farm and in January, using a mixture of sheep manure and kitchen waste as soil, the community began planting seeds. The plastic bottles are cut in half to create two plant pots with holes in the bottom for draining. By mid-February the waste bank was able to swap the now young plants into the larger plastic bottle pots and use them as decorations around their saung (traditional bamboo shelter). The gardening system is still in its early days but the community hopes to begin harvesting vegetables in the coming months.