Leaning into the Discomfort, Part Three: 20 Ways to Upcycle 2-Liter Plastic Bottles

2-Liter Plastic Bottle Hanging Planters

Okay, I’m a plastic 2-liter bottle convert.

That’s not to say that I’m actually buying beverages in plastic 2-liter bottles, because plastic bottles are still THE WOOOORST (for proper inflection, please channel Jean-Ralphio’s character assessment at approximately :28). But I am pretty stoked now to dig them out of the recycling bin and put them to good use.

It turns out that plastic 2-liter bottles are sturdy and versatile, perfect for upcycling into a variety of fun projects!

Here are some of my favorites:

Projects that Use SO MANY BOTTLES!

bowling game via Plucky MOMO
bowling game image via Plucky MOMO
  • bowling gameHere is a super fun DIY game for a children’s party… or just a rainy day! You can paint the 2-liter bottles to fit any theme, or even better–let the kids in question paint them all by themselves.
  • biology investigation columns. If you’ve got a kid interested in science (or, let’s be honest here, a kid very much NOT interested in science but who has a Science Fair looming), these biology investigation columns are multi-faceted and fascinating. Use the online instructions to build an inquiry-based investigation column, or check out the book for even more ideas.

hanging planter

  • hanging planterYou’ll use two 2-liter bottles to create these sturdy, self-watering hanging planters.
  • vertical gardenThis would be a great way to grow a ton of shallow-rooted plants!
bottle bottom containers via Repeat Crafter Me
bottle bottom container image via Repeat Crafter Me
  • bottle bottom containers. I’m obsessed with zippers, and I love that this is a no-sew way to utilize them! If you’re not locked into the whole apple theme, you can use more than just the bottle bottoms to create these zippered containers.
jewelry stand via Epbot
jewelry stand image via Epbot
  • jewelry standTo get the tiered look, you do have to incorporate at least one 1-liter bottle and another smaller bottle. But that’s the type of challenge that makes great recycling center adventures!
jet pack via Doodle Craft Blog
jet pack image via Doodle Craft Blog
  • jet packAdd this to your Halloween costume plans or to your kid’s dress-up collection!

Projects that Use All (Or Nearly All!) of One Bottle

DIY Sprinkler via Clever, Crafty, Cookin' Mama
DIY sprinkler image via Clever, Crafty, Cookin’ Mama
  • DIY sprinklerSure, a sprinkler is super fun for kids. But now that I’m old and boring, my main attraction to sprinklers is that they can water my garden instead of me.
  • cuff braceletsCut the top and bottom off of a 2-liter plastic bottle, then get that bracelet factory going!
  • DIY lava lampMake a sensory bottle that will fascinate, calm, and teach a little bit of science!
2-Liter Tropical Fish from Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational
2-liter tropical fish image via Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational
  • tropical fishThis project is the perfect combination of process-oriented and display-worthy. Kids will love painting their tropical fish, and whether that painting is precise or messy, it still looks good! Preserving the bottle neck also makes the finished fish easy to hang. Just thread fishing line (lol!) through the neck, tie the end on the inside of the bottle around something that can be used as a stopper, and then use the other end to hang your masterpiece.
  • automatic water dispenserHere’s a great DIY version of those pricey automatic water dispensers at the pet store. I wouldn’t necessarily keep this out on the counter all the time, but one of these in each room would certainly be a more elegant vacation solution than my current strategy of filling every mixing bowl in the house with water and leaving it out for the cats whenever I’m going to be gone for a couple of days (“But what if they tip over their water bowl, and then tip over the other water bowl, and then tip over the OTHER water bowl, and then I’m in a car accident so I don’t come home when I’m supposed to, and then they tip over the other water bowl?!?”).
soda bottle rocket via Frugal Fun for Boys
soda bottle rocket via Frugal Fun for Boys
  • soda bottle rocketAll that vinegar is going to kill your grass, but science is worth it!
  • wind spinnerYour yard is going to be so pretty that nobody will even notice the spot where the bottle rocket killed all the grass…
soda bottle cloche via Garden Gate Magazine
soda bottle cloche image via Garden Gate Magazine
  • soda bottle clocheWhether you need to protect a delicate sprout or a cupcake on a picnic table, this soda bottle cloche is ready to help!
  • gift containerEspecially if you create a cute label, a 2-liter plastic bottle has so much room to hold cute little gifts… and cash!

Projects that Use Part of a Bottle

Plant a plant

  • 2-liter bottle planterIf you’ve got an empty 2-liter bottle lying around, you’ve got the quickest and easiest planter ever made!
  • tiara or crownUgh, I would have used the snot out of this tutorial if I’d known about it before my kid’s once upon a time fairy tale birthday party. But now that YOU know about it, you can incorporate it into all of YOUR fairy tale parties!
Bottle Bottom Gemstones via Randomona
bottle bottom gemstones image via Randomona
  • bottle bottom gemstones. Here’s a surprisingly simple way to create DIY gemstones from plastic bottles. To vary the sizes of your gemstones, just upcycle different sizes of plastic bottles!
  • ribbon toyCut the bottom off of a bottle. Punch holes around the edge. Add ribbons. Enjoy!

Do you have any favorite ways to upcycle plastic 2-liter bottles? Tell us about them in the Comments!

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Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life, and my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties.

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