Thursday, September 22, 2011

8 Uses for a Tiny Container

I have a pet peeve with wearing contacts.  Not the actual lenses – they’re great.  My problem lies with those little cases, the ones provided with each bottle of contact lens cleaner I purchase.  They’re made of durable, non-porous plastic and serve their purpose well…and L-O-N-G.  I’ve never yet needed to dispose of one.  While I appreciate the convenience, I don’t really need new cases as frequently as I do cleaner.  The result is I now have a collection of those itty-bitty containers because I can’t bring myself to add them to the landfill.

Top left: hand cream; Top right: salt & pepper;
Bottom left: caplets & tablets; Bottom right: soy sauce & sesame seeds
Instead, over the years, I’ve found a few re-uses for those cases:
  1. The first idea was to use them as medicine holders.  Both hubby and I suffer with chronic back problems that occasionally disrupt our night’s sleep.  Now, instead of trudging off to the medicine cabinet and stumbling in the dark for the right dosage, we each have a pillbox on our night table with measured doses in both compartments.  The compartments hold (at least) two standard sized tablets or caplets and, having screw top lids, also carry well in a purse.
  2. The next idea was to use them in hubby’s lunchbox.  As I’m on a sodium-reduced diet, hubby often wants to add a little salt to his meals.  Previously, he packed an old (camping) saltshaker, but sometimes his lunchbox just didn’t have room enough to include it.  The contact lens case was the solution:  the case is small enough to fit inside his lunchbox no matter how full it gets.  One side he fills with salt and the other with pepper, so he now carries pepper, too.
  3. The third idea spawned from the second.  Our picnic basket can seem small at times, too small to carry full-sized condiment containers.  As each of the contact cases holds two teaspoons, (one teaspoon per side,) they make handy containers for small amounts of other condiments:  sugar, cream, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, seeds, herbs, spices, chillies, bacon bits, etc.
  4. I often salvage screws and other fittings from old glasses or technological hardware and that’s when the fourth idea came to me.  The cases are the perfect size for sorting small parts and pieces, making them easier to find when needed.  This idea could also work with small buttons and other notions (i.e. beads, sequins.)
  5. I began making hand cream  back in February and, still very impressed by its effectiveness, have sought a way to carry it along in my purse.  The contact lens cases proved a good answer.  The cream has no reaction with the non-porous plastic, and the container holds enough cream for a few applications – more than I require in a day.
  6. Seeds, collected from a flower or vegetable garden, should be stored in dry, airtight containers.  These cases, with their screw-top lids, are ideal:  they’re big enough for most seeds, yet small enough to gather an assortment.  When stored in a dark place, they’ll keep seeds viable until the next growing season.
  7. On occasion, I like to paint.  These containers work great for mixing water-based paints and clean up is effortless.  (However, I’ve never mixed acrylic or oil-based paints in them, uncertain how or if they’d react with the plastic.)
  8. The next idea (I plan to try) is another kitchen application.  ‘Cheese Bites’ are delicious and, in moderation, a calorie-wise substitute for bagged munchies.  Until now, though, I’ve never had a cookie cutter small enough.  As I planned this blog, it occurred to me to use one of the contact cases to produce the bite-sized morsels I prefer.  The dough rolls out to 1/8-1/4” thick, so the keen edges of the open case should easily cut two perfect pieces at a time.
Some of the lens cases have different coloured lids for easy distinguishing between right and left lenses.  The best feature, though, is the textured-surfaces on the lids.  No matter the brand, they all have them to enable better “blind” recognition.  In using these cases for other applications, those textured lids just as easily denote varying contents (like different medications) in low light situations (such as a restaurant or a darkened bedroom in the wee hours.)

The longer I wear contacts, the more of these little containers I collect.  Until there is an option to buy lens cleaner without also getting another case, I’ll continue adding them to our household inventory.  Fortunately, we have more uses than tiny containers…so far.