Why You Should Think Twice Before Throwing Away Shampoo Bottles

Every year, 400 million tons of plastic becomes trash, and over 10 million tons of that plastic waste enters our oceans, per UN Environment Programme. Single-use plastic products have become increasingly popular since 2000, with water bottle waste alone totaling 2 million tons (via Healthy Human). That's the equivalent of 1 million full-grown elephants (via Sea World Parks & Entertainment). Plastic affects everything from aquatic life to our hormone levels. Fortunately, more and more companies have decided to turn all this trash into treasure, per Business Insider.

Adidas sells sneakers made from recycled ocean plastics. Patagonia breaks it down to make fleece lining. Solgaard even sells a wristwatch sourced from discarded bottles. According to Vogue, however, sustainable products lean a bit pricier than fast fashion. "A sustainably made and priced garment reflects a brand's dedication to reducing their impact on the environment and the makers as well," notes Ayesha Barenblat of Remake. If you're eager to dedicate the time (but not necessarily the money) to sustainability, there are plenty of DIY hacks to make use of old plastics from the comfort of a craft corner. Empty shampoo bottles, specifically, have no shortage of creative uses.

Create colorful storage with old shampoo bottles

Next time you squeeze out that last bit of soap, think twice before throwing away the bottle. One Crazy House recommends upcycling used shampoo bottles into hanging planters. Simply cut off the top, paint the plastic your desired color, and attach twine to the sides. This way, your plants will stay stylish in something that would have otherwise taken 450 years to decompose (via WWF Australia). Alternatively, smaller shampoo bottles can be made into simple flower vases. Wash out any leftover suds and brighten up the bottle with paint. As noted by Donella Crigger of One Crazy House, these plastic vases are ideal if you have accident-prone kids.

HGTV recommends repurposing old shampoo bottles to make outlet-hugging cell phone holders. First, you'll first need a bottle wide enough to support your phone (or whatever device you're hoping to store). Slice off the top and one side of the container, leaving behind a small edge that will prevent your device from falling (via YouTube). Cut a hole in the back large enough for your charger, and trim around the edges as needed. To elevate your creation, decorate with paint, glitter, or washi tape. Alternatively, it's easy to use a similar process to make a mini pouch for change or make-up. Instead of cutting off one side of the bottle, slice off three.The fourth side will fold over, acting as a top. Firmly secure the pouch's make-shift lid with velcro strips (via YouTube).

When in doubt, try ecobricking

If you're not in a crafty mood, used shampoo bottles can be repurposed without scissors. Bottle bricking, also known as ecobricking, seeks to turn PET — polyethylene terephthalate — bottles into building materials. So how does it work? Once you're finished with a candy wrapper, chip bag, plastic straw, or any other type of clean and dry plastic, press it down inside your empty shampoo bottle, per ecobricks.org. Over time, after adding more  small pieces of plastic, the bottle will turn into a colorful "brick," a dense, plastic block that can be used for sustainable building. According TikTok educator @learnwithlaceyyy via BuzzFeed, "It's also really important to cut your plastics into small pieces." This way, "they're much easier to compact." The denser the ecobrick, the higher its quality.

Finally, log your brick's information including its weight, date of completion, and your name. From here, you'll be able to buy, sell, or trade ecobricks through a platform called the Brik Market. They can also be sent to approved locations. Ultimately, it's best to limit how much plastic we buy in general. Next time you're running errands, consider choosing one of these nourishing shampoo bars instead of a bottle.