Fun With Recycling: Make a Milk Bottle Igloo!

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Fun With Recycling: Make a Milk Bottle Igloo!


Fun With Recycling
Make a Milk Bottle Igloo!

Recycling materials not only helps save landfills from being overburdened and potential environmental damage, but can be fun too!

In this recycling activity you can build an 'igloo' out of plastic milk bottles, large enough for you and your friends, or family, to sit inside.

The video below shows how one group built their milk bottle/jug igloo and is very useful in demonstrating the procedure.

Milk Bottle Igloo Instructions

Step One:  Start collecting milk bottles.  

This could take a while, depending on how many people you can get involved.  Get everyone in your extended family, class, club etc. collecting.

Lids should be kept as well, as these help give the bottles more strength, by trapping a cushion of air inside.  Open bottles can crush out of shape much more easily.

Make sure they are cleaned well after emptying, as you don't want to be using smelly unhygienic materials.

Step Two:  Work out how big you want your igloo to be.

How many people do you want to be able to fit inside?  Just a private spot for you and a friend, or enough for lots of people?  Do you want to just be able to sit, or have enough room to lay down?

You will need to be able to get hold of enough heavy cardboard (fridge and other large appliance boxes are ideal) to make a base for your igloo.  The bottom milk bottles will be glued to this to stabilise the whole structure.  So your igloo can't be bigger than the cardboard you can get.  It can be joined however, so it doesn't all have to be in one huge piece.

Step Three:  Work out how many bottles you will need.

This will require some calculations.  It will depend on what size you want your igloo, and what size milk bottles you are collecting.  The people in the above video used over 400 bottles, but they were a larger size than is generally available in Australia (for those of you who live here.)  Watching the video, however, will give you some idea as to how to calculate the number.

Draw a circle of the right size onto the cardboard, as a guide for laying out your bottom bottles.  You can do this by attaching a pencil to a piece of string (equal to the radius of the circle you require- plus a bit extra for tying) and to an object which can either be glued or stabbed through the centre point of the circle.  Pull the string tight and your pencil should be in the correct place for drawing your outer circle.

Next, lay out the number of bottles you will need for your base layer, on the cardboard, lids facing into the circle.  Don't forget to leave a doorway, large enough for people to easily crawl through.

The first several layers can go almost straight up- just indent very slightly, using maybe one bottle less per layer.  Work out how many layers tall you want your igloo to be.  You can then multiply the base layer number by the number of almost straight layers you think you will need, to get an approximate number of bottles for this section.

As you get nearer the top you need to begin curving inwards much more, by staggering your bottles towards the centre more, so those layers will need progressively less bottles.  Keeping these things in mind, try to work out the number needed for the remaining layers.

You will also need some bottles to create an entrance-way to your igloo.

Step Four:  Constructing the igloo.

Glue the milk bottles together in pairs, handles together, using high heat hot glue, holding each in place for about a minute to allow the glue to start to set.  (Note: This project can use quite a lot of hot glue, so be prepared!)

Next, glue the pairs together at the top of the side, so that you are allowing curvature to form.

Glue the first 4 bottles to the cardboard along the circle, then glue to the next 4, at the top of the side, also gluing them to the cardboard, allowing for curvature.  Continue this until the whole circle is complete, except for the doorway.

Repeat this procedure for each following layer, slightly indenting the layers as you go up, making the curve more pronounced at the upper layers, until you curve right over, making the igloo roof.

Use a layer or two of bottles coming out from the doorway to make a covered entry to the igloo.

Watching the above video will make all of these steps clearer.

Once your igloo is built, celebrate by having a Recycled Igloo Party!


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