I have several bags of used-once pill bottles that might be better used in some other (clever) and useful way?

Please note: Storage of small and or miscellaneous things (buttons, screws, etc.) is an obvious one that I use. I'm sure there can be other non-obvious true "hacks."

I've asked the pharmacist/chemist to re-use them for me; but, she insists that violates some rules/bylaws for her/her pharmacy.

Currently, recycling centres are overloaded so these kinds of things are being dumped into landfill. I can't refuse them, and they're multiplying because I can't reduce them. That leaves REUSE them.

They're "transparent," microwave "safe," made from PP Polypropylene - type 5, and have attached snap-on lids. The hinge for the lid does not allow them to "nest" inside one another easily.

They've been sorted into a few different sizes that can hold from 40ml up to 200ml each.

What is the best way you can think of?

  • 1
    If you have enough, in different colors, you could make a pointillism artwork. – BrettFromLA May 6 at 14:47
  • @BrettFromLA They're all clear (a bit "cloudy"); but, I guess they could hold something colourful. I find that was interesting and something I didn't think of doing. Thanx. – Stan May 6 at 18:25
  • 3
    @Stan questions that are "a solution in search of a problem" are off topic here. I can think of 100 things that you could use a pill bottle for and i could write them all out only to have you go through all of them going "no; i don't have any small amounts of paint", "no, i don't keep small screws", "no, i don't have children to entertain with impromptu percussion instruments", "no, i don't need a pill bottle shaped flotation device for my car keys in case i drop them down a drain..". StackExchange sites are all about questions that can be answered not simply discussed – Caius Jard May 7 at 20:32
  • I am with @CaiusJard here - we’ve recently had (and closed) similar questions about empty toilet paper rolls, glass bottles, and a plethora of other odds and ends, basically all asking for possible ways to still use them. I know you have been on this site longer than I have, but please don’t take it personally if I point out that “what can I do with X” is probably the epitome of an opinion-based question, which are discouraged all over the SE network. – Stephie May 8 at 11:55
  • 1
    Stan, if you are trying to convince me that excessive use of plastics is a problem, you are preaching to the choir. I am 100% with you on that topic. It’s just that I still think that this isn’t a good fit for the site. I suggest tackling the situation from the other end: How about contacting the manufacturer (avoid, refill, recycle, select recyclable materials?) or a representative of the health authority that currently forbids the pharmacists to refill the containers. Get others on board, if necessary. – Stephie May 8 at 15:32

This is something I can relate to being diabetic. I have also accumulated a helluva lot of pill bottles. Used pill bottles can be used for a lot of things such as keeping change handy for tolls on bridges. One pill bottle per denomination ie: nickels,dimes and quarters etc. They are also handy for USB memory sticks as they fit perfectly and if you disassemble things keeping screws and nuts.

If you need to take medication on the go you can take all the pills you need for the day. Pill bottles being transparent you can see at a glance if you missed a dose,


I’ve used these for overnight kayaking, bushwalking or hiking to store very small quantities of food such as honey, coffee, sugar, premixed milk powder and cocoa, as well as needle and thread, sunscreen or adhesive tape, for anything where I want to cut down on weight, protect from moisture, or from being squashed.

Lots of daily life items come in containers designed for months of use. These allow you store enough for several days.

  • 2
    Make and use them into single-serving containers. Great. – Stan May 8 at 14:31
  • If you can see into them, even better. No labelling needed! – Stefan May 8 at 23:09

Sort them in groups of 24, add numbers (optional: decorate) and fill them with candy, chocolate, coupons or inspirational quotes.

Give away as advent calendar to friends or colleagues, encourage them to reuse the containers, either individually for whatever they can think of or refill them and pass them on next holiday season.

  • Repurposing the containers are a great idea. Great. – Stan May 8 at 14:31
  • A bit too religiously-specific IMHO. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica May 15 at 19:06
  • @einpoklum not where I live - they are so common, some have apparently already forgotten about the ties to religion. Or how would you interpret an advent calendar for adults containing a selection of condoms or a collection of adult toys, beers, liquor... you get the idea. – Stephie May 15 at 19:09
  • @Stephie: In the countries I've lived in, I haven't once seen this kind of calendar - and one of them was (mostly protestant) Christian. Anyway, I didn't downvote. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica May 15 at 19:13

Use a set of them (even numbers, choose how many pairs you want) and create a sensory memory game, filling pairs with the same substance:

  • Audio version:
    Small objects of different size and texture that will sound differently when the containers are shaken. Random suggestions: rice, beans, sand, pebbles, a single small rock, pine needles, even water if the containers are watertight.
  • Olfactory version:
    Either fill directly or use a bit of cloth or cotton wool for liquids. Have the players open the containers (or help them, if you are playing blindfolded), close after sniffing.
    Ideas: herbs and spices, cut fruit with a distinctive smell, scented products like soap, shampoo, etc., wet sand or soil, pine cones, hay. Depending on the choice of materials, discard the contents after playing.

In general, the rules of the classic memory game apply - find the pairs. You will either need to ensure that the containers are opaque, the players keep their eyes closed, or use a blindfold. Small children may not like the latter, so adapt the procedure to your audience. In any case, no peeking while playing.

Local schools or other organizations working with children may appreciate a collection of your containers for the use case described above (or come up with own ideas what to use them for).

  • Earrings
  • Cufflinks
  • nuts & bolts
  • That's what I use for the lion's share of mine - sorting and storage. What else could there be, I wonder? Thanks! <sarcasm> Condolences for your carpal tunnel syndrome problems that make using your keyboard so painful. That must be the reason your answer is so long and detailed. </sarcasm> : ) c'mon, man! – Stan May 7 at 12:36

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.