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What can I do with all of These Medicine containers?

Pill bottles

Almost 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription and more than 50 percent take two – that’s a lot of empty pill containers. What can we do with all of those empty plastic containers?


Contact your pharmacist/supplier and tell them you don’t want plastic containers. Tell them to switch to more commonly recycled #1 or #2 plastic. They may not change their ways immediately but the more pressure consumers put on them the better.


Ask your physician to fill your prescriptions for longer periods if possible. A 90-day refill will use only 1 container whereas three 30-day refills will require 3 pill bottles.


Box those containers up and send them back to your supplier or deliver them to your pharmacist.


They can and should be reused but not for food products since leftover medication could make its way into the food.

Some possible ways to reuse those containers include:

*store matches to keep them dry

*hide a spare key

*create an emergency first aid kit

*make a mini sewing kit

*store paper clips, tacks, pins, jewelry, beads, small craft items, etc.

*store cotton swabs/balls; store nuts, screws, router bits

*store garden seeds

*store $10 worth of quarters for laundry, tolls, etc.

Get creative – decorate a pill bottle and use it for a small plant or candle holder. Partially fill a container with beans or rice for a rattle or cat toy. Check your favorite craft website for ideas.


Prescriptions are often packaged in orange plastic containers. Unfortunately, many curbside recycling programs do not accept the orange containers. Check with your local recycler to see if they accept #5 containers.

Check with your pharmacist to see if it has a recycling program. If not, encourage them to start an in-store recycling program.

Recyclebank has launched an Android mobile app that gives discounts and deals at local & national business for recycling #5 plastic products.

Use Recycle Nation‘s search tool to find #5 plastic recycler in your community.


Support initiatives that recycle or repurpose plastic containers.

Reach out to your local community health center, church, or homeless shelter to find out if they accept donations.

Contact an animal hospital to see if they could use some pill bottles for pet medicines.

Send your pill bottles to an outreach program like Mathew 25: Ministries for inclusion in shipments of medical supplies to improve medical care in developing countries.

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