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The Waki Way .co.uk - Living full-time in a motor home

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LIVING IN A MOTOR HOME: FAQ's

We always seem to get asked the same questions about living somewhat off grid in a motor home, to which the answers seem to spark a dozen more questions! So (to give our voices a rest!) here's the answers to our most frequently asked questions...

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Ways to recycle Milk Bottles

We have a fantastic crafty resource hiding under our very noses - the recycling bin! It's full of all manner of materials and shapes, discarded and unloved, frankly getting in the way, but just waiting to be of use again and all you need is a little ingenuity, and a pair of scissors... ;) 

I love making things from whatever I have on hand, it's very satisfying, and for me putting in the effort to make these items trumps the hassle of shopping for a brand new something - never mind the monetary savings! There is also the fact that we have very particular and unusual needs around Waki - normal household stuff doesn't often fit and let's face it anything that reduces the level in the recycle bin any is most definitely a good thing to me!

So what are we rummaging for today? The humble plastic milk bottle is what we'll be looking at this time, and perhaps you won't look at one quite the same way again...

Things don't have to spend eternity in landfill, of course they can be recycled and melted down again but items manufactured from recycled plastics still requires some brand new material. Instead of demanding that a brand new item be made to purpose, why not get one (or 2 or 3!) more use(s) out of what you have on hand first before sending them onward to be finally recycled? Give your bottles a quick rinse (it's best to do it as soon as you've finished the milk so there's no musty milk pong!), grab a pair of scissors and give them one more chance at utility.  

 

As of yet I've barely begun to scratch the surface on recycling our own milk bottles, so I guess we'll update this as we go... Below are some of our projects to get you started with recycling ideas;

 

recycled milk bottle plastic scoopsrecycled milk bottle plastic scoops

Recycled Milk Bottle Scoops

The style of bottle determines the kind of scoop you can makeThe style of bottle determines the kind of scoop you can make

Milk bottles have handles, and you can make use of them so easily to make brilliant little plastic scoops! I absolutely love these things! I know, I'm clearly easily pleased right? But they're just so simple! I've made several and use them for scooping our bird seed, potting compost and anything else I feel scooping would make easier. Some bottles can be quite thin so the resulting scoop can be somewhat bendy but still they get the job done. It doesn't have to be specifically a milk bottle, any plastic bottle with a handle will work – disinfectant bottles are made of stronger plastic (though I wouldn't consider anything that's housed chemicals as suitable for food use). Each bottles' shape means that you can get yourself a different size and style of scoop depending on what you need it for, once you make one you'll soon start to see the possibilities in every bottle around you!

 

To make one for yourself just look for where the corner(s) of the milk bottle are in relation to the handle. The area directly below the handle will form the centre belly of the scoop. I made a shallow trowel shaped scoop from a corner-handled milk bottle & a deeper style scoop (from a milk bottle with the handle in the centre of a side panel).

Use a marker pen to draw the shape of the scoop on the bottle around the handle to give yourself a guide to cut along, then cut the scoop away from the bottle with either sharp scissors or a knife – remember to be careful how you hold the bottle whilst you do the cutting! Stay safe now :)

If you need to, give the scoop a quick tidy up by snipping off any wonky areas and make sure the handle is free of sharp edges. I left ours unfinished but you could always use a lighter briefly to melt the sharp edges away (apply the flame for 1-2 seconds at a time only so as not to melt the plastic too much!). To get rid of any left over pen marks, just give them a wipe with soapy water or nail polish remover.

recycled milk bottle plant tagsrecycled milk bottle plant tags

Recycled Milk Bottle Plant tags

recycled milk bottle plant tagsrecycled milk bottle plant tagsThis has to be the simplest use for milk bottles there is! Just cut any flat areas of milk bottles into strips, taper one end and label them with permanent marker. The great thing about the kind of plastic from milk bottles is that even permanent marker can be scrubbed off with soapy water when you want to (or nail polish remover if it's being particularly stubborn) so you can reuse them. Recycle, re-use then recycle again!

 Recycled Milk Bottle Filler (or Icing!) SpreaderRecycled Milk Bottle Filler (or Icing!) Spreader

Recycled Milk Bottle Filler (or icing!) spreaders

Super simple in exactly the same way as the plant tags, simply cut out a flat area from a milk bottle and spread away! Again, the thicker the plastic the sturdier your scraper will be.

 

Re-purpose your Milk Bottles! Re-purpose your Milk Bottles! No-mess storage: Re-purposed Milk Bottles

Fed up with the frozen pea bag opening and releasing your precious peas into the freezer drawer? Even the resealable zip-lock pea bags seem to find a way to pop open in ours! We also find our larder shelves awash with bags of lentils, nuts and oats etc not always well secured, I've lost count of the amount of spilled beans I've had to sweep out of there! And don't even get me started on leaking flour bags... I've been gathering good storage jars and tubs to house it all the whole of my adult life but there's still never enough, and it's all so exorbitantly expensive!

 

This can hardly be called a tutorial - thoroughly clean and dry your bottle, label it and fill with your choice of goods! And you didn't even need to use scissors! :) If you use different kinds of milk you can also colour code your storage by the different coloured caps to help you find what you want quicker!

 

Milk bottles are brilliant for organising your freezer, it's much easier to dispense frozen veg from these bottles over pouring from bags and any clumped together veg can be quickly separated by giving the bottle a light shake (with the lid on!).

Outside of the freezer you can use them for storing dried beans, lentils or other such dried goods. Or if you're a crafty type, use them for storing mass beads or buttons!  Do you buy things in bulk? It's so much cheaper and more efficient to shop that way but we hardly have the space on board (or the weight allowance) to store that much food! Use the bottles for easy dispensing in your pantry and simply top them up from the bulk bags when they're empty - we've turned the shed at base camp into something of a food store for all such things, so much so I often say I'm going to the 'shed shop'!

Who'd have thought you could bring such order into to your daily life by doing some recycling? :)

 Recycled Milk Bottle open-top storage potsRecycled Milk Bottle open-top storage pots

Recycled Milk Bottle open-top storage pots

As I'm sure your coming to realise, you can make no end of useful storage pots from milk bottles, I really mean it – NO END! :D

 

Cut the tops straight off at whatever height you want to make the simplest storage pots: tall ones for storing pencils and brushes or as a pot for cleaning your brushes; short ones for mixing paints or as party dipping bowls, or pack many of them inside a shoe box or drawer to create sectioned storage for all those odds and ends...

 

I know, what a mess! I used the first pot as a template for the others and it smeared a bit - you get the idea though...I know, what a mess! I used the first pot as a template for the others and it smeared a bit - you get the idea though...

We took the storage pots one simple step further and, leaving one side longer as a fixing panel, attached them to the insides of our cupboard doors as additional storage (see above picture of them in place on our bin door). A dab of glue on the rear surface and a tiny screw for good measure is all that is needed. Space for storage is at a premium in a small home like Waki and they fit nicely into the space mostly taken up by the frame itself in our cupboards. They're great for being able to get at all of the little things that usually get lost on the cupboards or drawers. In fact they work so well, I'm in the process of making some for almost every cupboard door we have! Milk in that tea? ;)

 

Milk Bottle Bird FeederRecycled milk bottle bird feederRecycled milk bottle bird feeder

Our milk bottle bird feeder is extremely popular with the locals at base camp. They like the cover it gives them and regulars make full use of it, sitting inside out of the wind or rain whilst munching all the seeds they could desire! It has now become my morning routine to spend time watching the birds from our bedroom window before I get up, better than watching the news any day.

 

To make a feeder like ours simply cut a large portion of the corner away leaving at least an inch of the base intact to hold the seeds. Drill or poke holes either side of the corner in the base and push a stick or skewer through to create a perch for the birds to land on. I had help from my nephew Deacon who expertly stripped the leaves from the stick, and helped to decide where to put it through the bottle! :)

Our birds all use it differently, some land on the perches first before leaning or hopping inside, some make use of the portion of stick inside across the corner (like the little guy pictured above) and some are happy enough to just sit on the plastic edge gazing at what's on offer - make sure that there are no sharp edges so as not to harm birds' feet - a quick touch with an iron can melt it flat. The handle gives a simple way of securing it to a pole or hook.  I also poked a few small drainage holes in the bottom in case of sideways rain, though not so large as to lose any seeds through!

You may notice that our feeders are mounted on a shower rail on the side of the old shipping container next to us, we didn't put it there but love the idea all the same and have made good use of it! The soap dish works great for holding fat balls in winter... who'd have known?

Make sure you keep your feeders clean so as not to encourage the spread of disease between those who come to visit, if the seeds have turned mouldy before the birds have gotten through them dispose of them and replace with fresh feed. Not much chance of mould around here, this summer with all of the hungry families stopping by they're chomping through an entire mug of seed per day!

 

Milk bottle wall / post planterMilk bottle wall / post planterMilk bottle hanging basket / wall & post planter

I made use of another milk bottle to create a kind of hanging planter, cutting the top away but leaving the handle intact to tie onto a post, again on the side of the old shipping container next to us. The nasturtiums contained have flowered well, though probably aren't the best plant I could have used for aesthetics as they don't branch out much which a small root stock. It was however, what I had, and I figure that any flower is better than no flowers - the pollinators don't seem to mind what the pot looks like! Something branching or trailing like Lobelia would look good as it would likely cover the bottle from view.

The post we've tied on to is where the sites outdoor tap is mounted, and from which the local willow-herb has made good use of the spills and grown as tall as the planter itself! (don't worry the electrical wire in the photo isn't actually in use, bar for support!)

Make sure to drill drainage holes in the bottom so the plants don't become waterlogged. Some plants prefer more drainage than others.

 

Not a milk bottle but useful all the same...

Recycle your 2 litre bottles as a handy funnel for pouring grain, beans or seeds into smaller containers. I use one for filling our bird feeders (in combination with our lovely little milk bottle scoop of course!) without spilling seeds everywhere! Simply cut the top off the bottle, remove the lid and pour away!  

 

If you're feeling artistic you could add a splash of colour to these creations with ribbons or twine, and paint or spray them too. I've seen some surprisingly beautiful creations out there on the web, there's no end of people transforming various plastic milk bottles into hanging planters, bird feeders and houses, decorations and light fittings, and indoor and office storage solutions! 

 

So there you are! A good many ways to recycle milk bottles, fancy giving any of those a go? We'd love to know what you thought and if you've tried any of these ideas - let us know what you made on The Waki Way facebook page! But don't just stop with our ideas, like I said the webs bursting with ideas - where do you think I got most of mine... ;)

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About us:

My name is Sarah and in 2011 my husband Ryan and I decided to buy and re-fit an old motor home - we named it Waki and now live in it full time in the UK!

We live neither on or off-grid, rather somewhere in between, and are not the first and I dare say not the last to choose this way of life... read more>> 

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