If you have a medication you take regularly, you’re familiar with the problem of waste created by prescription pill bottles. Some people go through several bottles a month and many municipalities do not recycle this type of plastic. Fortunately, some ultra-creative people have thought up some clever, thrifty ways to re-use these bottles, and keep them out of our landfills, too.

The bottles have a few special characteristics that make them super-useful. For one thing, they are sized uniformly, so they’re perfect for organizational projects, where you want things to line up evenly. Even better, they’re waterproof and air-tight qualities that you should take advantage of. You might pay a lot for little bottles like these at a place like The Container Store, so just enjoy them for free with your prescriptions instead!

Before you get started, there are two important tips to remember when re-using prescription bottles:

  1. Wash and dry before re-use, so they are free of any drug residue
  2. Protect your privacy: soak the bottles to remove the labels

Once you have the bottles clean and label-free, you can begin to see their real beauty and use! Here are some of the top projects, from the kitchen to the garden to the tackle box, that we found around the net:


  • The bottles are perfect for holding screws, nails, tacks, and other workshop items. Glue or drill the caps to the underside of a shelf, and let your new storage units “float” underneath
  • Long, skinny tubes of makeup such as mascara or lip gloss can be organized to stand up in pill bottles
  • The bottles are just the right size to hold a stack of quarters for parking meters or laundromats
  • Store fishing lures in the bottles to keep them from tangling with other equipment

Gifts and Crafts

  • Put a few pre-threaded needles, a tiny seam ripper, and some safety pins in a bottle to form an on-the-go sewing kit
  • Clean medicine bottles are a great holder for homemade spice mixes such as steak rub or herbes de provence
  • Make your own humorous labels for a “funny” medicine and fill with small candies (keep this type of gift away from children to avoid confusing them)


  • Because they’re water-proof, the bottles make great waterproof matchboxes for camping. Fill them with strike-anywhere matches and glue a striking surface on inside of the lid.
  • In the garden, the air-tight bottles work perfectly as seed savers.
  • At Halloween, cover white outdoor holiday lights with one bottle each for an amber effect

Travel Aids

  • Use the tiny bottles for a self-serving of salad dressing in your packed lunch
  • The bottles are great as travel shampoo and conditioner bottles

Charitable Uses

  • Some veterinarians will welcome your empty bottles for re-use with pet meds (varies by doctor; inquire with your vet)
  • There are some community projects to collect bottles for issuing prescriptions to the homeless
  • Similar programs exist for third-world nations… your empties could help with medical aid

What is your favorite use for discarded medicine bottles? We’d love to hear what you’re making!

For more ideas: