10 Ways To Reuse A Plastic Bottle For Survival

Plastic bottles are one of my favorite items to reuse. Thinking outside of the box and figuring out ways to repurpose them is, in my opinion, a worthwhile survival trait. The reason is that there are an estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic circulating around the world throughout nature. So, it is very likely that you will come upon this piece of trash when in the wild. 

Water Filter 

reuse a plastic bottle

If the right materials are around, a plastic water bottle can be turned into a water filter in the field. Cut the bottom off of the bottle and cover the drinking spout with a piece of material such as a shirt or bandana. Layer in sand, followed by more coarse material, small pebbles, and larger rocks. As the water moves through, larger debris will be filtered out and water can be collected as it passes through the bandana. 


This project will require a sharp cutting tool. Puncture the bottle near the top or the bottom. Make a small slice into the plastic and begin working the knife around the bottle in one long cut, much like peeling an apple. This will produce lengths of cordage that is quite strong.

Water Collection 

For this, I don’t mean just dipping the bottle into a stream. One method is to place green vegetation into the bottle and allow the sun to warm up the contents. This will produce a greenhouse effect and water will be collected at the bottom as it leaves the vegetation. 

Another method is to use a piece of cordage to direct water, say from wet rocks or a shallow spring, into the opening of the bottle. 

Rope Weight 

Need a weight for the end of your cordage for heaving purposes? Fill a bottle with rocks, or water, though not your clean water, and tie it to the end of your rope. 

Start a fire 

A fire can be started with a plastic bottle by using it as an improvised magnifying glass. Fill the bottle with clear water and use the curved portion of the bottle to direct and focus sunlight onto a tinder bundle. Be warned that this method requires a lot of patience.  

Waterproof Container

A plastic bottle is great for keeping water in but it is also great at keeping water out. Use the bottle as a waterproof container for keeping items like matches or fire tinder dry.

Flotation Device 

One reason you see so much plastic circulating around the world is that it floats. If you come upon a large number of plastic bottles, they can be lashed together and used as a floatation device. 

Security Alarm 

A few rocks placed into a water bottle makes for an excellent noise-making device. String up several of these with a tripwire around your campsite and you will have a primitive security alarm.

Fish Trap 

Making one of these is quite simple. Cut the top off of a bottle, invert the top and push it back into the bottle. Anchor the trap into a water source and wait to see what you will catch. These types of traps are not meant to catch large fish but are used more as bait traps.

The small fish that are caught could be eaten or used as bait for larger prey.

Wrap Up

Water bottles can be used in many different ways. Hopefully, the shortlist above gets your wheels turning in coming up with some of your own uses for this abundant material.

Written by Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021. Read more of Bryan's articles.