Glass is the perfect material for a low-waste lifestyle. Not only is it infinitely recyclable, but it can be reused in endless ways around the house. From functional and beautiful decor to practical storage, you can put those glass jars and bottles to good use in ways that will make your home more sustainable.
Glass Jars Make Food Prep Easy
Since many of the glass jars we end up with come from the food we eat – yogurt, sauces, jellies and more – it only makes sense to put them to good use in the kitchen. And since glass doesn’t affect the flavor of the food inside, it’s the ideal container for your ingredients.
Jelly jars make delicious overnight oats. Next time you get close to emptying yours out, save the rest. Add equal parts rolled oats and milk of your choice, plus any other extra ingredients (like nuts, chocolate chips, or cut-up fruit) and even some Greek yogurt if you want a punch of protein. Mix it up, leave it in the fridge overnight, and you’ve got a nutritious and instant breakfast the next morning.
Another clever way to prep food using glass jars is by making a salad in a jar. The key here is to put the dressing in first, then your chopped fruits and vegetables, then your protein (quinoa, eggs, peas, chicken) and finally your greens and any seeds or crunchy additions you want to include. The best part? All you have to do is dump the salad out, give it a little stir, and it’s ready to eat (with no soggy greens!).
Glass Makes Beautiful Organization
Store flour, sugar and other grains in large jars for an aesthetically pleasing pantry. The tight seal keeps your ingredients fresh, and you can see what they are at a glance.
Smaller jars, like glass candle holders, are great for small items throughout the house. They’re a great way to declutter your junk drawer. They fit buttons, crayons, wine corks, candies, rubber bands and more. Empty the unsightly cotton swab container into a repurposed candle jar and it will look nice enough to put directly on the counter, instead of hiding in your drawers!
According to The New York Times, you should stop burning a candle when a quarter of an inch of wax is left – all you need to do is put the candle into the freezer overnight and bang the wax out, scraping any leftover bits with a butter knife. Then the glass container is ready to use for storage or even to create a new candle!
You can up your artsy game by painting the lids and even adding knobs onto the top of them for a more uniform look, even if you’re using different sizes and styles of jars.
Get Crafty with Glass Wine Bottles
Wine bottles make gorgeous, eclectic centerpieces when you add a little paint and put in some flowers. LED lights, inside or outside, add a touch of magic to any wine glass centerpiece.
Break out the tools to create even more fun wine bottle crafts. You can use a glass cutter to cut off the tapered part of the wine bottle and you’ll instantly have new drinking glasses!
Or, keep the bottle whole, and mount it to a board or tall birdhouse for an instant bird feeder. Simply fill it with seeds, turn it upside down, and it will dispense slowly for the birds to enjoy. For hummingbirds, add a spout and fill it with sugar water.
Green Thumb Meets Green Lifestyle
Glass jars are an environmentally friendly vessel for all kinds of plants. Succulents are especially simple to care for inside a jar – just add a bit of soil and water it every now and then.
Take it up a notch with a terrarium in a large glass jar. Soil, moss, small plants and even outdoor treasures like bits of bark, pine cones and twigs make for a charming world inside its glass container.
Don’t have a green thumb? No problem. Glass jars make the perfect makeshift vases for store-bought flowers.
Eco-Friendly Art in Glass
Since they’re translucent and so easy to clean, glass jars are ideal for mixing paints and storing art supplies. They’re also the perfect material for creating art.
All you need is a little paint and you can create any scene. Use stencils on the inside while you paint, and add some battery-powered tea lights for an enchanting holiday decoration. Involve the kids in a simple, fun paper mache craft by gluing tissue paper to the outside of a glass jar, putting battery-powered lights or glowsticks on the inside, and creating your own special lantern!
Fill jars with water and add glitter and food coloring for a calm sensory jar that’s both pretty and relaxing. You can also add colored sand in a pattern for another kid-friendly craft that can become home decor.
Show Them You Care
Wide-mouth bottles and jars are handy for holiday gifts and party favors. You can layer in the ingredients for hot chocolate or even cookies and the result looks beautiful (and eventually tastes great!). They’re easy to paint and decorate on the outside, or a simple ribbon does the trick.
Another great gift idea using glass bottles is to create your own infused olive oils or fruit liqueurs.
So next time you have a few extra glass jars on hand, instead of letting them take up space in storage, put them to good use! And if you have more than you can use, remember – glass can go from your curbside recycling back to the shelf in as little as 30 days. It’s a win-win!
Photos by Anna Mitchell