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What to do with metal cans and plastic?  RSS feed

 
Tim Wells
Posts: 120
Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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I have been using some plastic bottles for slug traps, but I'm collecting a fair bit of cans and other supermarket plastic from produce I and my visitors throw away. How can I use this?
My thoughts are that plastic could be used as a glazing layer in a building to trap heat, since most of it is translucent. My friend suggested we cut the cans and rivet them.
 
Eric Thompson
Posts: 375
Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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duck food preservation solar trees
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vole protection for young trees
I've seen tin cans tacked up as shingles too
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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I have insulated small sheds with plastic bags, bubble wrap, styrofoam, crumpled paper, etc. Anything to trap air and fill a hollow space between an inner and outer wall....Usually the paper goes either to the stove or the garden....I just used it in one case where I had run out of plastic and was wanting to finish a project. Since in many areas glass, metal, and even some hard plastics can be recycled, this "soft plastic" is a large part of what remains as "trash" so it seems a good use to sequester it this way in a useful purpose....
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 395
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
23
books dog food preservation forest garden goat trees
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I never throw out a bottle, (glass or plastic) or a can of any sort if I can help it. For years I have been collecting and re-using this "trash" for everything from food storage (jars with tight lids make excellent rodent-proof containers for flour, rice, sugar, lentils, beans, dried fruits and vegetables, etc.) to insulation.

There are several ways to use cans and jars to insulate sheds, houses or what-have-you. First and easiest, is to just stack them up between studs in a wall and cover with sheet-rock or wood to hold in place. The added air pockets don't provide a ton of insulation, but its better than nothing at all. If you fill the cans with sawdust, paper, packing peanuts or wads of polyester fiberfill from old coats or comforters, its better. You can tape then together in tubes first or just pack them in there so snugly they can't fall over. Another way to use them as insulation also doubles as a structural component in a building or garden wall. Make gabion baskets of whatever size you need, then instead of filling them with rocks, pack them with trash such as clean bottles, cans and jars. When they are full, tie on a wire top cover, wrap the gabions in chicken wire and cement over the surfaces to seal ala ferro-cement. Voila -- a structually sound "trash wall". A great way to make a gabion wall where you don't have rocks. I could see building an entire house or a long garden wall this way.

I have a ton of other uses, but I will leave it at that for now because I have to go to bed. I'll post more in a day or two.
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 395
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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books dog food preservation forest garden goat trees
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A few more things to do with bottles and cans...

Pour wax (or lamp oil) into heavy jars and add a wick, then keep a lid on it. Stockpile for emergency light and heat. You can heat a small pot over one of these if you put a scrap piece of hardware cloth over the glass top under the pot -- to allow air in so the flame doesn't go out -- then set the pot on top of that to heat. You could also set the jar inside a large, tall can (like a clean, empty paint can, large coffee can or shortening can) that has holes punched in the side -- this is especially useful for larger pots that might cause the jar, alone, to tip. You can weight the can with sand, dirt or even water before putting the jar in so that it stays stable. If you don't need the light from the candle, pour the wax into old tin cans and punch a few holes in the sides for the air. Tuna and cat food cans filled with wax and with 3 or 4 short wicks make excellent backpack "stoves". You need the extra wicks to use up all the wax before the wick is gone. And, as with the other version, you need to allow a way for air to enter.

Another use for a lot of cans is in the garden. First punch several small holes in the sides near the bottom of each can, then when planting, put one can next to the stem of each plant -- buried to within an inch or so of the soil surface. You can more effectively water the root systems of young plants by pouring water into the cans and letting it trickle out slowly. Saves water from evaporation. As the cans rust, they also add iron to the soil.

You can use cans to start plants in as well -- I've found a good way to get the rooted seedlings out without hurting them. Punch one large -- pencil width -- hole in the center of the bottom, then add the saved top off the can (from way back when you originally opened it) before adding the dirt and seeding it. When the seedling is ready for transplant, push the eraser end of a pencil up through the hole in the bottom. It will push against that can lid and smoothly expel the entire soil ball undamaged. You can then re-use the can for another plant.

More later, as I have time.
 
Tim Wells
Posts: 120
Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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Thank you, I look forward to more ideas.
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 395
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
23
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I haven't been here for awhile, but I wanted to mention that empty wine containers -- those plastic bag kind with the spouts -- can be reused to hold other liquids if you pop the spouts out and refill them. You can also use them as hot water bottles the same way. If you don't want to put liquid into them, blow them full of air, tape them together and use as insulators in a wall, between blankets in an emergency situation or wherever you need a bit of instant insulation you can deflate and put away later. They also make quick emergency flotation devices -- though I would not depend upon them. You can also tape 3 or 4 together to make a homemade "wall 'o water" for tender plants in spring.

Regular plastic bags can be cut into strips and braided or crocheted to make bags, rugs, ropes -- you name it. Much better than throwing them away and risking the lives of animals that may eat them.
 
Elisheva Cohen
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Tim
Can you please describe the plastic bottle slug trap you mentioned?
Thank you
 
Jeremiah wales
Posts: 137
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I reuse plastic bottles as bowls and funnels. But the problem is I only need so many of these funnels. Most of the 2ltr plastic bottles will take cold but they will not take boiling water. Try it sometime. They shrink down to 2/3 of the size as soon as they get boiling water in them.
 
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