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Reuse glass jars to reduce waste

By on May 14, 2010


Frugality involves reducing waste. This includes saving useful items to reuse. But you don’t want to accumulate a bunch of clutter because — let’s face it — you can have the best of intentions, but that doesn’t mean you will use hundreds of saved items. In other words, saving a handful of twist-ties is good if you use them regularly. Saving every single one for years until your kitchen drawer doesn’t close is hoarding. It seems funny that anyone would save that many, but plenty of people do so. Some items are harder to decide whether to keep or toss (or curbside recycle, in some cases). One example is glass jars. Previously, I shared ways to reuse small baby-food jars (

Label removal is easy if you soak the jars in hot water. If there’s still some glue residue, use vinegar, baby or vegetable oil and a plastic or green Scotch-Brite scrubbie to remove it.
Here are a few ways to use empty jars.


Glass jars work well to hold food such as rice, pasta, flour, tea, coffee, dried beans, snacks, etc. Jars often use less space than bulky packaging. Reuse a jar to shake gravy, as a refrigerator storage container for leftovers, drinking glasses, to grow sprouts, hold sourdough starter, or to put your soap slivers into with water. Toss in a marble to help combine the two, and then use as liquid hand soap. One reader, Lisa C. in Texas, shares: “I always keep a jar to store my onions in the fridge. Keeps the odor from seeping out into the fridge and making other foods taste funky. It keeps the onion fresher than a storage bag does. I use the same jar over and over.”


Use a jar to display mementos such as seashells, small stones or sand from the beach or dried flowers or candles.


Use a spare jar as a vase for cut flowers, or keep the lid and make a terrarium by layering small pebbles or gravel for drainage, adding potting soil, your plant(s) and then a little bit of sheet moss. Water lightly, and add the lid. One reader, M.J., writes: “After I harvest and dry my flower seeds at the end of the summer, I store the seeds in glass jars on a shelf in my garage. I label each jar with the flower name and when to plant the seeds next spring. I can see at a glance how many seeds I have of each type of flower.”


Gifts in a jar are popular homemade items to give. Gift ideas include homemade mixes, candies, cookies, pet treats, etc. But your gift doesn’t have to be food-related. Use a large jar (gallon or larger) to hold anything you would normally place into a gift basket such as craft supplies, toys, first-aid supplies, sewing or office-supplies kit, cosmetics or photos (

How do you reuse glass jars? Here’s a thread on the forums with tons of uses for glass jars.


photo by house of sims


  1. Darlene

    5/14/2010 at 12:16 pm

    So many unique glass containers out there, someone worked hard on the design of many of them so why not reuse & enjoy?
    I have a collection of small condiment jars and empty cleaned perfumes bottles that I use with one or more flowers in each. Grouping various sizes and shapes really can make a unique decorating statement.

  2. Linda

    5/16/2010 at 9:06 am

    And why limit it to glass jars? Plastic jars, like the ones Nutella, Peanut Butter, and broth bases come in are great for storage. Also, they do not break. They also make great gift jars, storage jars for buttons and other small sewing supplies, and toddlers love to play with them to transfer stuff just for fun.

    I do can and freeze, so am stingy with my glass jars. But there are many things I buy that come only in the plastic jars. So I save them for storage, gifting, and many other purposes. If you get at least one extra use out of a plastic jar, then it’s better for the environment.

  3. Nancy

    5/18/2010 at 1:44 pm

    Even on the food network cooking shows, many times they use the glass jars for putting drinks in especially if they are toting them to a picnic or something. Great ideas here!
    .-= Nancy´s last blog ..Barbecue Chicken Wraps =-.

  4. Toto

    2/2/2011 at 12:17 am

    I admit, I save my glass jars since they may come in handy and don’t transfer smells like the plastic ones do. Also, glass jars may become obsolete at some point…hmmm…sure hope not. The only problem is that they are heavy and can break.

  5. Terry

    2/26/2011 at 5:49 pm

    Plastic jars and containers need to be used carefully for food storage as many contain chemicals that leach into food over time. Not enough research has been performed to show they are 100% safe for longer term storage. Food in plastic often takes on the taste of plastic where a food or beverage in glass doesn’t. Re-using plastic containers for food may be good for the environment but might not be good for our long term health. Button and sewing supplies seem like the best use.

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