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Green Team Tip: Reusing Glass Jars

June 1, 2012

Despite so many “throw-away” type packages today (such as plastic water bottles), many kitchen staples are still sold in glass: spaghetti sauce, olives, jelly, pickles, etc. These containers are high-quality, sturdy, and often interesting in appearance: before you recycle, why not reuse them in your home? Here are some of our favorite ways of reusing glass jars.

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1. Kitchen Storage

Glass jars are great for storing bulk items (grains, spices, flour, rice, beans, etc.) or items that don’t stay fresh in their store packaging (brown sugar, we’re looking at you!)  They’re also great in the refrigerator (especially for leftover soup) and of course, for canning homemade food of your own.

2. Home Organization

From the bathroom to the office, from the craft table to the garage, glass jars are great for keeping your home organized and attractive. Use them for small items like cotton balls, qtips, and crafting supplies or unwieldy items such as ribbons, safety pins, phone chargers, and even receipts. And what’s a better place to keep your spare change than a spare jar?

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3. Vases and Planters

Blend elegance with country charm by reusing glass jars as vases or planters in your home. They can be dressed up with simple adornments, dressed down by filling the base with rocks or glass beads, or left simple and clear, showing off the natural beauty of the plants or flowers inside them. (Tip: if you use glass jars as planters, make sure to choose a small plant and don’t over-water, as the jars don’t have drainage.)

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4. Drinking Glasses

Nothing says summer like a big glass of iced lemonade in a jar. Medium and large jars are great for lemonade, iced tea, and ice water (don’t forget the straw!). Small jars are great for juice, or if you’re feeling especially rustic, red wine. (Hint: keep the lid, and your jar is a great way to transport a smoothie or other beverage to work without spilling.)

5. Foodie Gifts

Fill a glass jar with all of the shelf-stable ingredients for your favorite recipe (think cookies, soups, or stews) and attach attractive instructions for the remainder of the recipe.

6. Décor

If you’re not the planting type, use a glass jar to display non-living items. Kids can fill a jar with their collection of rocks, marbles, etc. For adults, use a jar to display sea shells from a vacation, or fill the bottom with white sand and use the jar for a votive candle. If you’re open to the non-traditional, a glass jar can even serve as a convex picture frame. Try it: it’s kind of cool!

And of course, if you’re not feeling resourceful or inspired by any of the above, please recycle your jars when you are done with them.

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