There’s no way to say this, but to just say it. It’s not a question I often ponder, but I’m pretty sure many of my other friends spend some time on it.

What are we supposed to do with all the empty pill bottles? Do we just add them to the ever-mounting pile of stuff that will never disintegrate? Some of you probably already dump a variety of your daily doses into a bigger bottle so that you only have to carry one in the car or your purse. Is there a way to cash in on the empties? Do pharmacies or drug stores give you discounts or extra credit if you return them? There’s no secret, black market for the light-brown little plastic containers, right?

Sometimes, a kitchen counter might have more empty bottles on a shelf than ones that have anything in them. If we’re not sure what to do with them, then is it possible many people have come up with ways to re-purpose these little airtight containers for simple, everyday uses? What might some of those purposes be? For the sake of conversation and filling this column, I’m so glad you asked!

When my father-in-law died just a few years ago, it became my task to clean out his workshop. I’ve never seen so many old Gerber baby jars that were being used to hold screws, bolts, washers, nails and nuts (hardware, not pecans, he kept those in baggies in the freezer). The jars were neatly placed on little shelves that were specifically built to make the optimum use of the space required in case more jars were needed on the shelf above or below. If he were still with us, those jars would have now been replaced with pill bottles. They’re perfect for such-sized necessities and unlike the glass jars, the plastic bottles won’t break if dropped on a hard floor.

So there you go, use ’em for hardware.

Any other creative solutions? Here’s one. Ever have trouble finding change when trying to feed a parking meter downtown or paying for extra fries in the drive-through? These little bottles are excellent for keeping quarters, nickels and dimes. You can put pennies in them too, but the worth of a penny is fodder for an entirely separate column for another time.

Work out of an office at home? Another use for these little bottles might be for paperclips, rubber bands and push pins. If you like to boat or camp, put your matches in one of these airtight containers to keep ’em dry. Toothpick holders, sewing kits…we’re always looking for places to keep our stuff.

Here’s one I bet none of you have ever considered. Gardeners are using the little containers to keep intruders away from their tender vegetation. How so? Two or three mothballs are dropped into a bottle. Holes are punched in the cap and then it is buried so that only the lid sticks out of the ground. Apparently, the odor keeps skunks, squirrels, snakes, rabbits and other unwanted creatures from nosing around (not really sure if it discourages moths, though).

So there you go…untold ways to reuse those empty little brown plastic pill bottles that keep piling up on the counter.

Here’s the problem with offering such ideas. I’m probably about to hear of many, many more.

I’m just sayin’….

Reach Warren Peper at