As school holidays commenced, we initially enjoyed clear, sunny weather, despite some chill. However, two days in, my youngest child contracted hand, foot, and mouth disease, resulting in a blistered rash and understandable grumpiness. This led to a cancellation of our planned activities and a period of quarantine.
During this time, a challenge arose in our garden: a shortage of gardening tools for the kids. They often fought over specific shovels or trowels, and my tools frequently went missing, leading to wasted time and frustration.
How to make milk bottle garden tools
To solve this, I turned to a creative and budget-friendly solution: making garden tools from recycled milk cartons. I used two 2-liter and one 3-liter milk bottles to craft various shovels and scoops, ideal for different gardening tasks like filling seed pots. These homemade tools surprisingly became the kids’ favorites, overshadowing store-bought ones due to their unique, self-made nature.
I didn’t stop at shovels; I also created trays for seed pots, a funnel for twine, and numerous plant markers from the milk bottles. This project had the added benefit of producing minimal waste, as any leftover plastic was recycled.
This approach not only offered a continuous supply of garden tools but also instilled a sense of responsibility in the kids. They learned that losing or breaking these tools wasn’t a significant loss, as they could easily be replaced or recycled.
Creating garden tools from used milk bottles is a resourceful and environmentally friendly project. It’s a simple process that can involve the whole family and teaches valuable lessons about recycling and sustainability. Here’s how you can make your own garden tools:
- Empty plastic milk bottles (2-litre and 3-litre sizes are ideal)
- Scissors or a box cutter
- Permanent marker
- Optional: Sandpaper (for smoothing any rough edges)
- Optional: A ruler (for precise measurements)
1. Prepare the Bottles:
- Clean the milk bottles thoroughly, ensuring all milk residue is removed.
- Dry the bottles completely before you start your project.
2. Planning Your Tools:
- Decide on the type of tools you want to make, like scoops, shovels, funnels, or plant markers.
- Draw the shape of the tool on the bottle using a permanent marker. This will be your guide for cutting.
3. Cutting Out the Tools:
- Carefully cut out the tools following your drawn lines. Use either scissors or a box cutter, and exercise caution, particularly if children are involved.
- For a scoop or shovel, use the bottle’s bottom and keep the handle intact. For a funnel, use the top part of the bottle.
- The flat sides of the bottle can be great for making plant markers.
4. Finishing Touches:
- If there are any sharp edges after cutting, gently sand them down to make the tools safe for handling.
- You can also decorate the tools with waterproof paint or markers for a personalized touch.
5. Assembling Your Tools:
- If your design requires assembling different parts, use strong glue or waterproof tape suitable for plastic materials.
- Engage Children: This is an excellent activity to do with kids. They learn about upcycling and gardening. Ensure safety, especially when cutting the plastic.
- Be Mindful of Durability: These homemade tools are quite durable for light gardening tasks but may not withstand heavy use like commercial tools.
- Eco-Friendly Benefits: By upcycling milk bottles, you’re reducing waste and the need to buy new plastic products, which is great for the environment.
Garden tools for everyone!
Inspired by this success, I delved further into recycling for gardening purposes. I even compiled an 18-page guide, “A Farm of Your Home Guide to Recycling in Your Garden,” available in our Subscriber Resource Library. This guide is packed with tips and ideas for reusing and repurposing household items in the garden.
For those interested in sustainable, plant-based living, I encourage signing up as a subscriber to access various resources, including checklists and guides.
In 2019, we stopped consuming milk, but we continued to recycle other types of bottles for tool-making.
I’m eager to hear from others about their favorite garden recycling ideas. Please share your experiences in the comments below.