Friday, June 20, 2008

Alternative Uses for Polycarbonate Water Bottles

By Beth Anderson, Outreach Associate

If you’re like me, you’ve probably responded to the recent news about bisphenol-A (BPA=a component of polycarbonate water bottles and the lining of various canned food containers) with some disappointment and a bunch of questions.

My main question is:
How can I safely reuse the polycarbonate bottles I already own so I don’t add them to the mountains of waste in our local landfills?

Our local outdoor retail giant, REI, will take back any polycarbonate bottles purchased at their stores. That’s a generous gesture, given that the manufacturer hasn’t officially recalled the bottles and doesn’t reimburse REI for the returned items. However, currently REI has no use for the bottles, and so they go into the solid waste stream. (Note: In recycling, #7 is a catch-all category for plastics still awaiting a broadly accepted recycling technology. Until one is achieved, most recyclers discard #7 items.)

Here are a few creative ideas I’ve run across for REUSING polycarbonate bottles:
  • Dry storage container: Kayakers, canoeists, and rafters can use their old water bottles to keep items dry, such as small notebooks, pens, maps, film canisters, memory cards for digital cameras, and cell phones.
  • Lantern: For $19.95 you can buy a solar-powered LED LightCap200 from SolLight and turn any standard water bottle into a weatherproof lantern for the backyard, treehouse, boat, or wherever, no batteries required.
  • First aid kit: Store small first aid supplies in a bottle to keep them dry. Items such as band aids, 2x2 and 3x3 pads, a small CPR shield, a roll of medical tape, alcohol prep pads, iodine pads, small tubes of creams, and small trauma shears can all fit into a wide-mouth water bottle.
Lastly, see this “How to Choose a Water Bottle” article for information about the variety of alternative bottles currently available.


Anonymous said...

Dare I mention that they can be used as pee bottles!

Aaron said...

Regarding the LightCap200, I think it is one of the best solar-powered products I've seen thus far.

Beautiful, functional and rugged -- what more could you want?

In fact, I just reviewed the LightCap200 on my own site -

Hope you find my review useful!

- Aaron Dalton,