Remake a Room Divider From Empty Plastic Bottles

photo of bottle wall

I recently had the amazing opportunity to travel to the TerraCycle Mexico office in Monterrey. My assignment was to upcycle their office from materials that would normally be scrapped. In just over a week, the space was transformed from a traditional office space to three floors furnished entirely from remade materials. The resulting interior demonstrated TerraCycle’s commitment to sustainability and makes the statement that recycled materials can be functional and fashionable.

photo of bottle wall

While overseeing the project, I collaborated with several designers and carpenters to create and install all of the pieces. A sculpture made from 3D eyeglasses was installed in the stairwell, tables were constructed from old pallets, a dress was created from bread packaging, and the TerraCycle signature sign was assembled out of decoupaged maps. The finishing touch to the conference room was a room divider created from empty dishwashing-liquid bottles.

Below, you can follow along with the how-to that I wrote up just for you. While not everybody has access to several hundred dishwashing-liquid bottles, you can use just about any plastic bottle and make the room divider your own individual installation. It’s “clearly” a great way to divide a space, while still letting light through the room. In the words of Team Mexico, “Elimina la idea de basura” (Eliminate the idea of waste)!


Step 1

 Open Galleryillustration of measuring room

Measure your space to determine the number of bottles you’ll need. Then determine the type and size of bottle or bottles you’ll be using. My space was 17’ wide x 8’ tall. My bottles were 4” wide x 9 ½” tall. You’ll need to leave a couple inches at the top for the conduit and a couple inches at the bottom for clearance. Based on my calculations, I needed 9 bottles per strand and 50 strands. I created an arced entryway in the middle of the divider that used 31 bottles. That left me needing 34 strands of 9 bottles each. So in total, I used 337 bottles. 

Step 2

 Open Galleryillustration of bottle collection

Collect and rinse out your plastic bottles. I used dishwashing detergent bottles from a recycling facility, but you can easily get them from your own recycling bin, friends, and neighbors. Remove any labels, or leave them on for more of a “pop” culture look.  

Step 3

 Open Galleryillustration of measuring room

Install your aluminum conduit by attaching a U bracket to the ceiling at each end of the pipe.  

Step 4

 Open Galleryillustration of bottle collection

Use your drill to drill a hole in the center of each cap and the bottom of each bottle. 

Step 5

 Open Galleryillustration of measuring room

Cut a piece of wire rope that is a few inches longer than the height of your ceiling. It’s important to have a clean cut so that the aluminum sleeves slip on easily. 

Step 6

 Open Galleryillustration of bottle collection

Attach an aluminum stop sleeve to one end of your wire rope. Do this by sliding on the sleeve and crimping down with the crimping tool. 

Step 7

 Open Galleryillustration of measuring room

Slide the bottle onto the wire rope. It’s easiest to remove the bottle cap, slide it onto the rope, then twist back on to the bottle.  

Step 8

 Open Galleryillustration of bottle collection

Continue sliding on bottles until you have your desired number. To finish off your strand, slide on an aluminum oval sleeve and loop the wire back through so that it creates a loop that is about 3” tall. The oval sleeve should rest just above the top bottle. Then crimp down with the “crimpers.” Cut off any excess wire. Repeat for each strand.


  • 200 – 400 clean, empty plastic bottles and caps
  • 1/16” galvanized steel wire rope
  • 1/16” aluminum stop sleeve
  • 1/16” aluminum oval sleeve
  • Two 10’ long aluminum conduit pipes
  • U brackets


  • Measuring tape
  • 1/8” drill bit
  • Power drill
  • Heavy duty pliers
  • Crimping tool
About Tiffany Threadgould 


I am a design junkie who gives scrap materials a second life and the head of design at TerraCycle, a company that collects and creates products from waste. My ...

More About Tiffany Threadgould

4 Responses

  1. dave says:

    better watch out – you may become an overnight art sensation by using trash and everyday disposables. Check out Tony Feher (just Google him) and see what I mean. "there's gold in them there hills"

  2. Rebecca says:

    It is a really clever way to reuse plastic bottles, and I really like the look…but how do you clean it?! That's a lot to dust.

    • Linda says:

      Undo the bottles by sliding them off the conduit dip them in the bathtub shake the water off and out and hang back up. Or just take the conduit down leaving the bottles still strung on there and hose them down with your shower.

  3. Katherine F. says:

    So clever and unique! I love seeing items find a new life. KUDOS!!!

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