How to reuse glass jars? 23 great things you can do with old jars

How to reuse and recycle glass jars

Have you started to build up a collection of old glass jars that you’ve been meaning to recycle but haven’t got around to it yet? Or maybe you’re trying to reduce your waste and have been thinking of giving the jars a second life but you’re unsure of the best ways to reuse them – if so, we’ve got you covered. 

Read more reuse articles: What to do with old socks? Top reusable tips to keep them out of landfill

Whether it’s an old jam jar, nutella jar, candle jar, or any other type of jar, below is a roundup of 23 ingenious ideas of how you can reuse them…

Reusing jars in the kitchen

  • Salad dressing container: Make extra dressing and store it in your empty jar – ideally you’ll have a jar with a lid for this as the dressing will last for longer. There are lots of easy salad dressing recipes you can follow e.g. a simple mix of olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, with some salt and black pepper, tastes delicious! 
  • Unique cocktail glasses: Next time you have a party or simply want to enjoy an evening tipple, use your old jars as glasses for holding your favourite drink. Your quirky cocktail drinking jars will look great in pictures too!
  • Make overnight oats for breakfast: All you need to do is put some oats in the jar, then pour some milk over the oats, filling the milk just above the top of the oats – then put your oat jar in the fridge overnight and voila, your breakfast is sorted and the jar reused. BBC Good Food has lots of different overnight oats recipes which are healthy and tasty. 
  • Storing spices: if you buy spices in bulk from a zero waste store, or loose from the market, bring them home and keep them in your empty jars.
  • Pickle vegetables: There are many reasons to pickle vegetables in jars, from preserving the veg for a longer life, giving the veg a delicious zingy taste, to the surprising health benefits pickled veg has. A simple brine mixture of salt, sugar, vinegar and water will do the job but there are many more pickling recipes you could try. 
  • Hold utensils: Tall and wide jars (often from big jam, nutella, peanut butter, etc containers) have big enough rims and are solid enough to hold wooden spoons, whisks and other utensils. They also look great on your kitchen counter, especially if you’re going for the zero waste look. 
  • Tea and coffee container: Put some tasteful labels on the front of your jars to separate the Earl Grey tea, from the Breakfast tea and the Darjeeling tea leaves and showcase them on your kitchen shelf. If you have eco-friendly coffee pods, they will also fit perfectly in an old jar. 
  • Storing rice and grains: Buy your rice and grains from a local bulk store or market where you can get loose rice and grains without plastic packaging – then store it in your glass jars. Ideally you’ll have a fitted lid to prevent any unwanted items or bugs getting in your stored goods. 
  • Create a measuring jug: Get your measuring tape out and put markers on your jars when it hits the commonly used metric or imperial measurements. Simple markers at the 25ml, 50ml, 100ml and 200ml points will come in useful when making your own salad dressing!

Reusing jars in the bathroom

  • Toothbrush holders: There are many eco-friendly bamboo toothbrushes available to use now – including eco-electric toothbrushes – which can all be stored in a jar on your bathroom countertop, cupboard or shelf. 
  • Store makeup removers: If you currently have cotton wool pads stored in plastic packaging then it’s time to make an eco-friendly change and put them in a glass jar. 
  • Shampoo or body wash dispenser: Whether you’ve made your own shampoo or body wash, or you’ve bought a sustainable version, keep it in a glass jar. If possible, pierce a hole in the lid of your jar and place a reused shampoo pump in the top to make it as practical as possible.  
  • Bath salts container: Give your muscles a relaxing bath using bath salts which you’ve stored in an old jar. They smell lovely in the bathroom too, so it’s not essential that you have a lid to cover them – but put them in a high up place so you don’t knock them over. 
  • Medication container: If you, like many others, have their medical / pharmaceutical tablets (e.g. paracetamol, ibuprofen, etc) stored in a bathroom cupboard in multiple different places – organise them in your old jars and don’t forget to label them appropriately.

Other ways to reuse jars around the home

  • Saving money: There are many ways to do this (a) put a set amount of money you can afford in the jar each day, week or month (b) put any left over change you have in your pocket after a day or night out in the jar (c) chose a type of coin(s) that you agree with yourself that if you ever get handed one by a cashier, you’ll put it in the jar. If you do any of these money saving techniques you’ll be sure to end up with a healthy pot of money by the end of the year. 
  • Growing seedlings / plants: Collect seeds from chilies or pips from avocados that you’ve eaten and start to grow your own in your jars. You’ll be surprised how easy this is to do – it may even inspire you to start a veg patch in the garden!
  • Create DIY candles: There are many eco-friendly, soy-based, candle waxes that you can melt down with some natural scents (e.g. lavender), to make your own candles stored in reused jars. 
  • Memory jar: Start noting down notable moments you share with your family and friends and store them in a jar. It’s such a special nostalgic feeling to read through all the enjoyable times you’ve shared together – it’s also worth noting the date on each memory for that extra level of detail to jog your memory. 
  • Store stationary: Pens, pencils, paperclips and other home office stationary will love their new glass jar home, and it’ll keep them all tidy and visible to see (for that envatible moment you need a pen but can’t find one!).
  • Decorative mood lighting: Curl up wired lighting and it looks majestic in a jar, perfect for decorative evening lighting when you’re curling up on the sofa and relaxing. It’s another way to reuse your boxed up Christmas lights. 
  • Sewing kit holder: Store all your buttons, threads and sewing needles in a jar which will keep them safe and in one place. 
  • Flower decorations: Freshen up your house with a selection of thin stemmed flowers that will fit in your jars – you’ll need some taller or wider jars for this. An old glass milk bottle is also a perfect flower holder. 
  • Nuts, bolts and screw container: An ideal storage container for the odd nut and bolt that is rolling around at the back of a cupboard or in the garage. A clear glass jar is exactly what you want for storing screws as you can see exactly what you have without sifting through an opaque box.

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