Plastic Bottle Caps

February 23, 2010

More often than not, I wake up in mid-thought. My brain is usually running at full speed before I’ve even opened my eyes in the morning. And on this particular morning, I woke up thinking about Plastic Bottle Caps.


My mom, I’m convinced, is the most amazing mother in the world. Many times I find myself learning about simplicity, frugality, & frivolity with an eco-mentality, just by recalling my childhood memories. I remember how she would save all sorts of seemingly useless items, only to find that she did, indeed, find an eventual purpose for them. One of those things was plastic bottle caps.

This memory however, was not of my own childhood, but of my daughter’s.

Sparkle (“Sparkle” is our youngest daughter, third-born child, and her eyes, well, they simply sparkle!) was about one and a half at the time. I would often bring her and her older siblings to visit my parents in the city on the weekends. My mother loves children. Not just her own children, or her children’s children, but all children. She adores them more than anything. And so she obviously looked forward to, and savored, any time she had with her grandbabies.

Now, even when they lived in a suburban home, we (my siblings and I) would often tease her about her compulsive collecting; telling her that her junk was just taking up space. But when I saw her big container full of plastic bottle caps, in her tiny apartment kitchen, well, I just had to let her know… weekly…

“What in the world are you collecting these for?” … No answer.

“What could you possibly do with these useless things?” … No answer.

“These are taking up too much space in here; why don’t we just throw these out?” … No answer.

“Seriously, do you even know what you’re going to do with these?” … No answer.

But weekend after weekend, I would watch the plastic bottle cap collection grow. There were all different colors and sizes; green from Tropicana, blue from 2% cow’s milk, red from whole cow’s milk, white from soymilk. And whenever she could hear someone pouring themselves a beverage, she’d yell out a reminder “Don’t throw out the top!”.

So this morning when I woke up, I was remembering the day that I was unnecessarily harsh with her about those caps; saying something about her being a borderline hoarder. Like every other time, my comment was met with silence. But this time, she took the container from me, and proceeded to the living room where Sparkle was playing quietly on the floor. Silently still, she joined Sparkle on the floor and poured all the caps out in front of her.

My mother began singing and teaching her about colors, and numbers, and counting, and sorting, and stacking. I just stood there in the doorway, mesmerized at the sight of them.




I was both amazed and ashamed. Amazed at the sight of my mother and Sparkle making an extraordinary use of such an ordinary piece of garbage. Ashamed that I had been so harsh towards my daughter’s doting grandmother.

I watched them, for what seemed like a lifetime. And I told myself… “I will forever remember this day”.


And as the day went on (today, that is) the memory did begin to fade as I went about my routine. Who knew that the memory would come rushing back again when I stepped into Sparkle’s Brownie troop leader’s house? The first thing I saw, innocently sitting on her table, was a bag full of plastic bottle caps.

And it warmed my heart.

As I write this now, I can recall so many of my mother’s collections that I was sure would just end up in the dumpster some day. But to my surprise, she would always eventually find a way to keep them from their usual fate.

And what a remarkable lesson I’ve learned today… that I didn’t need to read books or magazines or blogs to learn about this lifestyle I am attempting to live. All I had to do was remember my mother, and her container full of Plastic Bottle Caps.


Here are 10 unique things you can do with plastic bottle caps. I promise they will not disappoint!

  1. Click here to learn more about Recycle Caps with Aveda. It is a wonderful program that collects caps & recycles them into new caps & containers.
  2. Click here for reusable stamps that make good use of caps & styrofoam. So glad I stumbled upon this on The Long Thread. Possibilities are endless!
  3. Click here for an adorable & easy ladybug that you can make with even the youngest of children.
  4. Click here for a tic-tac-toe board. We’ll use 1 side of a cereal box & plastic caps (safe for the baby & reusable). When we’re done, we’ll store the caps inside the box! I can always count on Frugal Family Fun for simple, frugal, and eco-conscious ideas. (She’s on my sidebar too!)
  5. Click here for a wallet that makes use of the container & cap! There’s a how-to-video along with instructions. Can’t wait to make these!
  6. Click here for a robot koala that makes use of all kinds of stuff from your kitchen & recycling bins. This one gets an audible “awwh” thanks to Fun In The Making.
  7. Click here for the coolest darn thing ever! Just click & see for yourself! Seriously, isn’t that just the coolest? Thanks, Zakka Life!
  8. Click here & scroll down for the most inspiring mosaic ever! This link is actually for a book called “Bottlecap Little Bottlecap” by Michelle Stitzlein.
  9. Click here for a picture of a curtain on Kiddley. I’d do this in all 1 color & put it up instead of the ugly mirrored closet doors in my room.
  10. Click here for the cutest necklaces by Hidden Treasure. While these are made from metal caps, I couldn’t resist. Too adorable!


2013 update :: photographs in this post are of our now youngest daughter, Mia. Also, “Sparkle” is called by her real name, Aslan.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }


Reading this reminds me of my grandmother. When I was a child, her endless collections of “useless junk” provided tons of entertainment to my brother and me. As an adult, I worried about her and my grandfather being able to live amongst such clutter and encouraged her to pare down more than once. She never did. She passed a few years ago, just one year after my grandfather did, so the house needed to be cleared out. As a result, I have handmade quilts and blankets that she had hidden among her clutter. There are now ornaments on our tree that I hung at her house when I was young. An ugly ceramic piggy bank sits on a bookshelf to hold pennies that M finds on the ground. My son received quite a collection of buttons, fabric scraps and other leftover sewing notions that he used until they were gone. It definitely brought tears to my eyes more than once as I saw him doing the same things I did as a child: sitting around playing with the treasures my grandmother refused to give up.


Sofia's Ideas

You should start a blog. That is all.



I really like this Sofia! I am sure you are writing a book. You could be the first person that make green living simple. Green living doesn’t have to be complicated, as this article indicates. Keep it up girl!!!


Sofia's Ideas

Thank you so much for the wonderful compliments, Noel, although, there are experts out there doing a great job with this already. Simplicity does not come naturally to me at all. *wink*


michelle bank

Love this, so funny what we can use to learn from….as a teacher, I would call the bottle tops manipulatives….your mom is brilliant….it’s an awesome way to teach “visual learners”.

Visting you from MBC and Teaching countless ways to save!

Warmly~ michelle
michelle bank recently posted..Bath and Body Works Semi-Annual Sale!


Sofia's Ideas

Yes, Michelle! I think all my kids learn well with manipulatives, some more than others. But I see magic happen when we combine those manipulatives with music! Thanks for following!


Tesha Vann

Great site, following you from MBC! Come follow me at
Tesha Vann recently posted..And The Awards Go To….



I love your story and those bottle cap ideas are great! Love this. Following you back. Have a great day!
Maryanne recently posted..Happy Hump Day!


Sofia's Ideas

Why thank you, Maryanne! Glad you enjoyed!


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