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Things you can do with old film cannisters

Don't throw away those little film containers! Try some of these ideas to keep them out of a landfill.
* Match stick holder - glued sandpaper to the outside of the film canister and lid - then place your stick matches inside.Now you have waterproofed matches & somewhere to strike them! Contributed by Sara

* Film Canister people - Use film canisters to make little people. Take the film canister and turn it upside down (so the open part is on the bottom). Then put the lid of the canister on the bottom of the canister. Glue an earplug to the top of the canister as a head. After you glue the earplug on the film canister glue the top to the film canister on the earplug as a hat. Then glue a piece of Styrofoam to the bottom of the canister and glue tiny pieces of paper to that as shoes. If you want to you can make a face and add hair (bits of string or you can color with a marker) to the earplug. You can also glue pieces of fabric to the canister to make clothes for the people and you can also decorate the hat. Make accessories and houses for the people out of other recycled materials. Contributed by Jean,

* Pet Tags - When vacationing or visiting a friend, I cut two slits--approximately 1/2 inch apart--in the side a film canister and insert my dog's collar through the slits. Inside the canister I place a piece of paper with the following: dog's name, my name, address, home and cell phone numbers, vet information, where we are staying on vacation, etc. If the dog is staying at our friend's house, I put their information on the paper too. You can fit so much more vital information on the paper than what is on their ID tags. Contributed by Brenda Wunder,

* Stargazer - Cut out patterns of stars (click here for a printable star pattern page) and tape to bottom of film cannister. Using a safety pin or straight pin, carfully punch holes into the cannister. You can then remove the pattern and tape it to the outside or just put the name of the constellation on the outside. Hold up to light to see "stars". You can make a necklace by punching a hole in the lid and threading yarn through. Contributed by Angelia Bone,

* Film Cannister Rockets - Instructions here

* Traveling Toothbrush Protector - Cut a hole in the cap & insert your toothbrush in it. Put the canister over it & seal to keep the fuzzies out of your toothbrush while traveling. Contributed by Renee,

* R2D2 - My 13 year old son made a cute Star Wars R2D2. He cut a Styrofoam ball in half & glued it to the top, decorated the sides accordingly. Contributed by Renee,

* Rattling Insides for Toys - Put a jingle bell or beans or other "rattles" in the canister & seal tightly with tape or hot glue. You can now insert this into a stuffed animal or toy you are making while you are stuffing it for added fun. Contributed by Renee,

* ToothFairy Treats - My father is a photographer, and as children growing up, we always put our teeth for the tooth fairy in them. the "tooth fairy" had no trouble finding them in the dark, and 'she' always put the money back in the cannister, and then there was no disappointment from lost treats in the morning. Contributed by Amy,

* Lip Gloss Container - I think that chap stick is a little "pricey" so I take petroleum jelly and the last little bit of old lipstick and mix them together to make tinted lip gloss. I then use the canister to store the lip gloss in my purse. Contributed by N. Hellums

* Pin Cushion and Needle Container - Sew a strip of fabric to be like a snake and fill it with stuffing (fiberfill) then take the strip and glue it around the outside of the film canister, you now have a small pin cushion on the outside and a place to store extra needles for sewing on the inside. Contributed by N. Hellums.
Katy Pearson,, adds: If you glue the "snake" around the inside of the container, the needles would still fit in the center, and the pins wouldn't catch on stuff if you wanted to put the little kit in your purse.

* Waterproof Container - Hot glue a strong color cord to the top and use as a waterproof necklace at the beach, boating or while jogging. Contributed by Maria A. Alvarez-Lundie,

* Christmas Decorations - The film canisters are great for Christmas Ornaments. Poke a hole in the lid and thread a piece of ribbon through it, putting a knot inside the lid and forming a loop at the other end. Snap the lid back on. Glue small beads that sparkle on the entire surface using a glue gun- cover the lid, bottom, etc. It will hang on the tree and look great. This was a project I created for a girl scout troop and they loved it. Contributed by Kathy,

Brenda Frazier,, adds: I put small wrapped candy in some and in others I put money. When the small children in my family come to visit I let them take one. They can't wait to get to my house to see what kind of goodie they will get.

* Fingernail Polish Remover - After you wash and dry them, take a used foam roller, for curling your hair, take off the sponge part, put in the cannister, cut down to size, then fill it with fingernail polish remover. The hole in the middle of the sponge will fit all your fingers to remove your old fingernail polish on each finger. This is a good idea, when you travel or make a few and give them to your friends. Contributed by Ms. Jerry McGinnis,

* Portable Aromatherapy - I've been introduced to aromatherapy and find that peppermint works extremely well for my headaches and lavender helps me relax when I'm feeling stressed. Since I don't want to carry the glass bottles in my briefcase, I fill Fuji cannisters near to the top with Epsom salts, add a few drops of essential oil and make a label for the blend. I can pop off the top and inhale deeply without offending my co-workers with my oil's lingering scent. Contributed by

* Tiny first aid kits - Print out small labels to wrap around the cannister and put a cotton ball, a band-aid and an antiseptic wipe on the inside! Contributed by Natalie Yancy,

* Stamp Dispenser - My favorite hint is to cut a slit down the side of the canister and use it to store and dispense a roll of stamps. Contributed by

* Smell Experiments - As a kindergarten teacher, I use film canisters for sensory experiments involving smell. I put a cottonball soaked with vanilla, lemon, vinegar, etc., in the canister, put the cap on it. Then I open it up and the children have to guess what the smell is. The smell lasts forever. Contributed by

* MANY Uses Contributed by Lori,

  • They are the perfect size to hold 2 tbs of mayo or mustard for the lunch box or salt for the picnic.
  • Cut in half and paint, fill with greenery and punched flowers and they are outside barrel size planters for the dollhouse.
  • Need to take salve on your trip but don't want it to spill in your luggage? It's great.
  • Cut in half and decorate the top for napkin rings.
  • Use the bottoms as small feeding bowls for small animals. I'm using them now to help me wean a baby bird.
  • Drill a hole in the bottoms of two black ones, put mirrors inside and tape together and you have a kalidascope.

* Make them into little Oscar the Grouches. - Take a 1 inch green pom pom and glue it in the open end of the canister. Add small wiggle eyes and a small red felt mouth. Glue the top of the canister on the top of the pom pom (Like the trash can lid. Contributed by Daria,

* Make them into little Halloween Cats - You don't need to paint them, just make black cats. Decorate with google eyes and pompom nose and whiskers.

* Small give-a-ways at parties or at craft shows. - Fill them with candies or a small toy or jewelry. Tie ribbon around outside or hot glue small things to top. Contributed by Petey,

* Rubber stamping helper - Use the empty film canisters to mount rubber stamps on. Glue the stamp to the bottom, easy to hold onto while stamping the image.

* Craft item storage - Use them to store beads, buttons and embellishments, stickers, confetti, scraps, pin backings, etc. To keep track of what's inside, glue one of whatever is inside to the lid or front.

* Gift basket "samplers" - Decorate them by decoupaging or painting, etc. and fill with samples of bath salts, tiny bath beads, etc. Include an assortment in a gift basket. OR, in a food gift basket, fill the cannisters with samples of dry dip mixes, herbs, special homemade spice mixes, etc. Be sure to include instructions on how to prepare.

* Traveler's Helper / Emergency Kit - Use the cannisters to carry a small supply of aspirin, safety pins, sewing stuff, matches, mini band-aids, etc. for emergencies. Keep in your car or purse. Split your pant seams or pop a button while out running around grocery shopping or whatever and voila, you have the items available. Plus you never know when another fire or earthquake will happen and can't get home and might need some little item. Contributed by

* Necklaces for children - Pop a hole in the bottom of the container, knot a piece of ribbon, string or yarn through the hole. Fill the container with little treats, like candy, gum, or small toys. Have the kids decorate the outside with stickers.

* Paint storage - Use to store small quantities of paint, especially when you've mixed a special color!

* More Ideas from Reduce Garbage, Eliminate Landfills

  • Storage of thumbtacks, rubber bands, paper clips, etc.
  • Fill with quarters. Put in your child's backpack for emergency phone calls.
  • Fill with suntan lotion and carry with you when hiking. (Rae)
  • Fill with water or sand as a souvenier from a vacation. (Courtney & Christina)
  • Fill with household odds and ends (such as nuts, bolts, etc.) and store them in an old purse. (Gail)
  • Use for storage of seeds. (Christine)
  • Put a few loose buttons or beads inside and use as a cat toy. (Amy)
About Toxic Chemicals!
Please read this article forwarded to us by Brad and Diane:

Urban Myth: Plastic Film Containers Contain "Toxic" Residues
Over the years, Kodak has received numerous inquiries about the safety of using 35 mm plastic film containers for purposes other than storing film. Some reported novel uses for the containers include salt and pepper shakers, storage of vitamins/pills, and as children's building blocks.

Because their purpose is to store film, the containers are not subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for materials that contact food or drugs nor Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requirements for toys marketed to young children. Therefore, we can't recommend the use of film containers to store food, spices, vitamins,etc. However, we have manufactured hundreds of millions of containers for many years without, to our knowledge, a single health-related complaint. To protect the film from contamination, Kodak quality standards require that the insides of the containers must be exceptionally clean. No "toxic" materials leach out or offgas from the containers themselves.

The black film containers are constructed of virgin high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, a tough semi-rigid material commonly used for kitchen utensils, tools, toys, and numerous other applications. The gray container lid is made of low density polyethylene (LDPE), also a commonly used plastic. Note: Young children should not be allowed to play with the cap since it may represent a choking hazard.

Newspaper and magazine articles have mentioned "toxic residues" in the containers which might come from the film. There are none. The chemicals in a roll of film are embedded in the gelatin emulsion layers (about as thick as a human hair) and do not rub off the plastic film base. The gelatin used in film is more highly refined than that used in common gelatin-based desserts.

The film base is triacetate plastic. Periodically, Kodak receives calls from customers concerned because their child or pet chewed on, or fully ingested, a quantity of film. From the viewpoint of the toxicologist, the concern is not one of toxic poisoning, but rather of mechanical injury, such as laceration of the esophagus, stomach, or intestines from the sharp edges of the film. Chemicals in the film are in such low concentrations that the risk of an adverse health effect is much too low to accurately predict.

In summary: There are no "toxic residues" in Kodak film containers. Because our film containers are not manufactured to comply with FDA or CPSC requirements, Kodak cannot recommend the use of film containers for anything other than their intended manufactured purpose. However, if a customer chooses to use a Kodak film container for other than film storage, the container first should be thoroughly washed with soap and water. To eliminate the potential for choking or mechanical injury, film containers, film lids, and film cartridges should be kept away from small children and pets.
Deborah Stein, Technical Information Specialist
Kodak Environmental Services
Eastman Kodak Company
For more information, contact Kodak Environmental Services at, (716)477-3194 (8am - 5pm EST), or visit our KES web site.

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