Bottles can easily become art, shelter, decorations...They don't lose their potential just because they're empty of liquid. Innovators, artists, and just plain thrifty folk have proven this. The musical owl shown here is a perfect example. An art piece exhibited last year at San Francisco's Fifty24, it is human-height, made of chicken wire, bottles (drunk and saved by the artists during their residency), and other materials. Complete with speaker-cone parts for eyes, it played music when plugged in. Seriously, how cool.
This sculpture is a P.E.T. monster made with bottles colected in the Danube Delta, shown off at Panramio. The sheer size of it is enough to highlight the amount of plastic waste tossed aside near open water. Luckily, these became a demonstrative monster, rather than part of some giant swirling patch of plastic.
Amy M. Young is the artist behind this interesting temple of plastic bottles, that looks almost like sculptured ice. This one is gorgeous, but not functional. We know of another temple that might be even more surprising...
Now here is a cool structure made of bottles. This is the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple, made of a million bottles collected by the Buddhist monks from Thailand's Sisaket province. The hard work clearly pays off as you look around the incredible building. Structures made from bottles are not new, but they're getting new recognition, even being awarded energy grants.
Not only are bottle buildings useful, they can boarder on crazy. This is one of the buildings in Grandma Prisbrey's village. Yep. Village. Located in Simi Valley, California, the village was started by Mrs. Prisbrey in 1955 when she was 62 years old. Over a million bottles make up the 33 structures that house her pencil collection, doll collection, and other collected items. She made daily trips to the dump to collect the bottles, becoming an inadvertent advocate for waste diversion. Currently, the Preserve Bottle Village Committee (with a staff of two) works to preserve the little glass town.
What might make a better decoration for one of the houses in Grandma Prisbrey's village than this chandelier of bottles? It would make for a much better DIY project than purchase, since it is priced at over $1,200. We suggest salvaging an old bar light and a bunch of beer bottles and making it yourself.
It might be a little more difficult to DIY some decorative flowers like these, though. Created by Burning Man artist Rod Pujante, the flowers ponder life without chlorophyll. There have been opportunities to learn how to create these unusual decorations, and they're well worth the effort if you want some everlasting bouquets. Of course, you could also go for paper versions too.
Jasmine Zimmerman whipped up this Bottle House as a way to bring attention to the more than 30 billion bottles used each year in America. It's a green house that will grow and house life from a potentially life-threatening material.
Another useful repurposing of plastic bottles is to turn them into a solar water heater like Ma Yanjun, a carpenter, of Qiqiao village, Shaanxi Province has done. It doesn't quite measure up to the version created in Parana, Brazil, but it certainly illustrates how handy and effective reusing junk can be, and Ma Yanjun has helped over 20 families create their own solar water heater from plastic bottles.
Water heaters aren't the only use of plastic bottles that incorporates solar. Hymini debuted their building blocks made from recycled plastic bottles, which can also incorporate solar charged lights. They're called Polli-Bricks and they have an interlocking shape in order to make building them up into structures an easy task.
There are smaller, more practical uses of bottles, such as this chair. We're not sure how that might feel to take a seat after the glass has been cooking in the sun for awhile. Still, it looks comfortable and stylish, and offers some inspiration for how to turn trashed bottles into treasured items.
The debate over the carbon footprint of Christmas trees comes up every year. But there is a great solution. You might want to start collecting now if you hope to have enough bottles for a good sized tree like this in December. Just be really careful when setting it up if you're using glass!
Ending on a relatively somber note, we wanted to point out this art piece housed at the San Francisco dump. It's titled "Earth Tear" and is made of plastic bottles.
Houses Constructed Using Old Beer Cans
Some people have built and furnished their homes using empty beer cans. An interesting form of aluminum siding is created by using flattened cans applied in an overlapping scale pattern. Other wall designs rely on uncrushed cans. Decorative elements are added by creative arrangement of the cans or by cutting the cans into workable shapes for specific purposes.
Recycled Can Wall Art and Wall Covering
Used beer cans were beautifully repurposed into this butterfly spiral wall art. Others have used a more direct approach and used flattened special edition beer cans as wallpaper. Beer can collectors also enjoy using the uncrushed cans as a wallcovering that doubles as a unique display.
We Didn’t Think of it First
They may have not known about global warming or the urgency of living a greener lifestyle back in the 1960s, but these people were already hip to recycling beer cans. John Milkovisch used more than 50,000 empty beer cans to build his home in Houston. His “Beer Can House” underwent a seven-year restoration and is now open to the public.
Recycled Beer Can Home Decor
Here you can see even more practical uses for used beer cans. Beautiful luminaries and votive holders can be made by carefully cutting cans down and cutting out shapes for light to shine through. At one of the homes that has beer can siding, matching accents dress up the patio and deck.
Wearable Recycled Aluminum Cans
Wearing used beer cans may be less about a practical purpose than it is about quirky fun. After the beer is gone, the ultimate party hat can be made for the next time. Others have taken wearable recyclable art to a whole new level with gowns, jackets and shoes.
Beer Can Boats
Boats have been made from used beer cans by using silicon to hold the cans together and seal out water. Brad Gillam, Rob Meharg and Chris Taylor used approximately 8,000 gold beer cans to build their boat and sailed from from Ipswich to Brisbane, Australia in it. The successful voyage helped raise almost $60,000 for the SIDS and Kids foundation in memory of Gillam’s infant daughter, who died while the craft was being built.
Art and Novelty Creations
While some used beer can creations can have a practical use, others serve merely to amuse (or amaze) us. From dinosaurs to cathedrals to tiny vehicles, the only limit seems to be the artist’s imagination. When this weekend is over, will your empties go to the recycling center or could you think of a better use for them?