If you’ve embarked on a sustainability journey, chances are you have at least a few glass jars in your home. Whether you bought one at a store, were gifted one from a friend, or received one for a specific use, glass jars don’t need to collect dust on your shelves or be thrown away!
Glass jars are a versatile and sustainable way to store and transport food and drinks, and can be reused over and over again, limiting the amount of waste we create by not purchasing single-use containers.
In this blog post, we'll share 12 ways to reuse the glass jars you have at home, including both functional and creative ideas to make them last! Plus, we’ll fill you in on the benefits of reusing glass jars. tips for finding and preparing glass jars for reuse, and why recycling glass is so tricky.
Shouldn’t we just recycle glass jars?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans generated 292.4 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2020. Of that waste, only 65.5 million tons were recycled or composted, which means the remaining 226.9 million tons were landfilled or incinerated!
Glass is one of the most recyclable materials, but it is also one of the least recycled materials in the United States, which speaks to the larger crisis of the American recycling system. Thanks to data from the Glass Packaging Institute, 33% of waste glass gets recycled, and “the interplay between the quality and availability of materials needed to make glass” could be to blame. In theory, glass is infinitely recyclable, but unfortunately the United States lacks government policies that mandate glass recycling, and consumers don’t have the necessary educational resources to make it a habit.
Reusing glass jars is a great way to reduce waste, help the environment, and give a second life to something that might otherwise be tossed into the landfill. In situations where a glass jar is no longer reusable because of damage like cracking, then recycling is the best second option.
What are the benefits of reusing glass jars?
Here’s the positive impact that repurposing glass can have on your life and our planet:
- Reduces waste: When you reuse a glass jar, you're preventing it from ending up in the landfill, which helps to reduce the amount of waste that is generated and incinerated.
- Saves energy: Producing new glass jars requires a lot of energy. When you reuse a glass jar, you're saving the energy that would have been used to produce a new or recycled jar.
- Saves money: Glass jars are reusable, so you don't have to buy new ones every time you need to store something, which will keep money in your pocket.
Functional ways to reuse glass jars
Glass jars can be repurposed to fit so many different functional needs in your home. Here are some of our favorite and easy ways to reuse them instead of buying a new container:
- Store food and drinks. Glass jars are perfect for storing food and drinks, such as grains, pasta, beans, rice, nuts, seeds, coffee, tea, spices, herbs, flour, sugar, honey, jam, and more. Here are some helpful tips on how to make produce last with glass jars thanks to Juliana Deliberais on TikTok!
- Use as a food container. Glass jars can be used to transport food and drinks when you’re on the go. Simply pack the jars in your luggage or carry-on bag (just be sure to use caution so they don’t break during travel).
- Use as a meal prep container. Glass jars can be used to meal prep food for the week ahead and are great for portioning one large recipe into individual serving sizes. Fill the jars with your favorite recipes and store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Use as a gift jar. Glass jars can be used to give gifts like homemade cookies, jams, or jellies. You can even decorate the jar with ribbon, twine, or other embellishments for a more personalized touch.
- Use to refill household cleaning products and other liquids: Good Filling Sanitization Stations and many refill stores offer a variety of bulk household cleaning products that you can refill your own glass jars with. Plus, any glass bottle can be turned into a reusable spray bottle if you have a fitting nozzle!
Creative ways to reuse glass jars
When we think of glass jars, many of us imagine it holding a drink, food, or other liquids–but the possibilities for reusing glass jars and containers don’t stop there, and you might be surprised at all of the ways you can repurpose them.
Here are more creative ways to reuse glass jars at home:
- Use as a planter. Glass jars can be used to plant herbs, succulents, cacti, and other small plants. Just fill the jar with potting mix and plant your seeds or seedlings. You can even propagate plants with glass jars!
- Make a candle. Glass jars can be used to make candles. To make a candle, melt wax in a double boiler and add your favorite essential oils. Pour the melted wax into the jar and add a wick. Allow the wax to cool and harden, and then trim the wick.
- Use as a vase. Glass jars can be used as vases for flowers. Simply fill the jar with water and add your favorite flowers.
- Use as a storage container. Glass jars can be used to store non-food items, such as office supplies, craft supplies, sewing supplies, jewelry, hair accessories, makeup brushes, toiletries, and anything else you want to keep organized.
- Use as a food serving container. Glass jars can be used to serve salads, yogurt parfaits, smoothies, oatmeal, and more. We love keeping homemade salad dressing in jars, and giving it a good shake before serving.
- Use as a craft project. Glass jars can be used for a variety of craft projects. Check out this list of kid-friendly craft projects using glass jars from Louisville Mom Collective– a time capsule is such a fun way to remember the year with your family!
- Use as a home décor item. Glass jars can be used to decorate your home. We love how Hunker on TikTok upcycled theirs into colorful vessels that match the style of their home!
How to prepare glass jars for reuse
Once you've collected some glass jars, you'll need to prepare them for reuse. Here are a few quick tips to remember:
- Remove the label. You can usually remove the label by soaking the jar in hot water for a few minutes. If the label is stubborn, you can use a little bit of soap or dishwashing liquid or vinegar to help remove it.
- Wash the jar. Once you've removed the label, wash the jar thoroughly with soap and water. Be sure to wash the inside and outside of the jar, as well as the lid.
- Inspect the jar. Before reusing a glass jar, make sure to inspect it for any cracks or damage. If the jar is cracked or damaged, it's best not to reuse it.
Living a more sustainable lifestyle doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. By making small changes in your daily life like reusing items you already have, you can play an important role in reducing waste. If you want more tips on how to become more mindful of the environment, follow Good Filling Company on Instagram and visit a Good Filling Station to start reusing and refilling today.
About Good Filling Company
Good Filling runs and operates automated refill machines for home-care, personal-care and beverage products, offering homes an accessible and affordable way to help the planet. Our Good Filling Stations allow consumers to reuse their own containers to prevent plastics from entering the waste stream.
With Stations across the United States, and many more on their way, we’re bringing convenience to the zero-waste movement. To learn more about Good Filling Stations and to find one near you, click here.