Glass jars come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Rather than tossing them in the recycle bin, give them new life by trying some of these upcycle ideas for your empty glass jars.
Since starting our No Waste journey, one of the goals has been to cut single-use plastic from our kitchen. Doing this has left us buying a lot of items in glass jars. Since glass is reusable, we try to get the most out of them before sending them to the recycle bin.
Glass jars are great to have around, but we have accumulated so many that we need to find new uses. I have a cabinet full of jars and a bin of the lids. It’s a little annoying to figure out which lid fits each jar when I need them, but I don’t like to store the jars with their lids in case they aren’t completely dry.
There are so many groceries that can be bought in a glass jar, so I have jars of all sizes. When we don’t make things homemade, we will buy pasta sauce, jelly, queso, salsa, yeast, cooking wine, etc. and they all come in glass.
With all these glass jars around, I’ve had to find a few creative ways to put them to good use throughout the house. Of course, they have great uses in the kitchen, but can be used for so much more, too!
Creative Ideas for Upcycled Jars
Before you fill your jars, there are some ways you can dress them up to make them look nicer in your home. Using a hot glue gun, you can adhere many different types of fabric and other textiles to your jars. You can also purchase pieces from the hardware store to add to the jars if you want a handle, an opening in the lid, or a way to attach them to your surfaces.
Best Types of Jars
Really, almost any jar will work for upcycling. Some of my favorites are large jars to hold big things such as dry goods in the pantry. But I also like small mason jars and jam jars to hold small items such as craft supplies or bathroom items.
- Pickle Jars (usually big so lots of space)
- Pasta Jars
- Peanut Butter Jars
- Baby Food Jars (great for small items)
- Spice Jars (great for mixing new spices or your own fresh herbs)
- Mason Jars
- Canning Jars
- Any glass containers that aren’t broken and can be resealed
Originally Published On: February 5, 2019
Last Updated On: July 23, 2023
Glass Jars in the Kitchen
Rather than storing your food in plastic containers, use some of your jars for food storage. I know there are many things that wouldn’t fit in a jar, but if you have something like soup or chili you should be able to easily store it in jars or glass bottles.
There are those kitchen utensils that you are always reaching for when cooking. Rather than having them tucked away in a drawer, use a large jar to hold them on the counter.
We use our glass jars in the freezer often. Just make sure you give enough “head room” at the top of the jar so it doesn’t break (I’ve had that happen a few times). I have a few jars of the last green onions from our garden chopped up and stored in a jar, as well as extra bell peppers from a meal a couple of months ago.
Use some of your larger jars to start an indoor herb garden. Since herbs don’t typically get very big or have a large root system, the jars should work for a long time for your kitchen herbs. Put some rocks at the bottom for drainage purposes, fill 3/4 of the way with potting soil, then plant starter herbs or their seeds. You can then store your fresh herbs in small jars, too.
If you search online, you can find dozens of recipes for gifts in a jar. From brownies to cookies to oatmeal, store the necessary dry ingredients in a glass jar. Add a label with the instructions and decorate the jar. These are great as gifts for friends, neighbors, and teachers.
Herbs & Spice Containers
Use small jars to store your herbs and spices. They are better than storing in plastic, and you can have a more uniform look if you have enough of the same jars. They’ll also usually stack nicer to take up less space.
Fill a jar with decoration to match your kitchen/dining room and place it in the center of the table. Or, use the jar as a vase and bring in fresh flowers for the table.
Similar to the table centerpiece, use the jars as decor in the kitchen. We have a few jars
Having a party? Rather than buying disposable cups, bring out your glass jars. You could use a variety of sizes and shapes, as long as it can easily drink from. This stops the waste from disposable and would have a unique look on a table.
If you are lucky enough to have a bulk grocery store around that lets you use your own containers, bring them! You could store all types of dry or wet ingredients in glass jars.
Glass Jars in the Bathroom
Use glass jars as storage for things such as cotton balls, q-tips, makeup remover pads, hair ties, etc. You can paint and decorate the jars to fit the theme of your bathroom, or leave them clear to easily see the contents.
For those who make their own homemade beauty and self-care products, glass jars work well for storage. For example, I make my own deodorant and store the bulk of it in a large glass jar then use a small one to keep handy for day-to-day use. You can use them to hold homemade lotions, moisturizers, scrubs, etc.
Open storage is a perfect option for those jars that you may not have a lid for. Use these jars to store taller items or those you may not want to always be sealed tight. It’s a great way to store toothbrushes, makeup brushes, and other similar items.
Find a jar with a very thin lid and cut a small hole in the top. Make sure it is smooth, and fill the jar with tissues. Poke the top one through the hole and you have a glass tissue holder!
Other Uses for Glass Jars
Similar to the open storage containers in the bathroom, a glass jar without a matching lid is perfect for holding office supplies such as pens, pencils, markers, rulers, etc.
When you need a bit of extra light in an area, use a glass jar to hold a tea light candle. You know the glass won’t catch fire, and the heat from a small candle should not be enough to melt the glass.
There are so many little things that are often stored in the office area of the home. Having some small jars with lids can help organize everything from paperclips to rubber bands to push pins to extra staples.
Instead of housing tea light candles, maybe you are someone who likes to make your own candles. Use old jars to make new candles.
It’s been proven that having some green life in an office makes for a better workspace. Use any small shallow jars as planters for a few succulents. They are perfect plants for an office, especially one not at the home since they don’t need to be watered every day.
Growing up, my sister was always trying to catch bugs. She had a few critter cages, but they were always plastic and didn’t hold up well. Use a glass jar and poke a few small holes in the lid to make your own bug jar for the kids.
I mentioned this previously when talking about table centerpieces, but glass jars are good options for holding flowers. We have some knockout rose bushes outside and the boys will often bring a few in that we place in our glass jars around the house.
Instead of a plastic piggy bank, use a glass jar to hold your spare change. You would be amazed at how much you can accumulate in a jar when you put all of your change in there!
If you, or your kids, like to do crafts, then glass jars are great for storage. Since they are usually clear, you can see exactly what you have inside. Think about extra jars for storage of beads, ribbons, buttons, etc.
Ever go on vacation and have a few things that aren’t flat enough for the scrapbook, but you still want to hold onto it? Use a glass jar to make a vacation memory jar. Fill it with a few momentos from the trip and a photo and place it on a shelf.
- Do you save all of your jars after using them?
- What other uses have you found for glass jars?
- Have you tried any of these before with success?
- Which idea are you most looking forward to trying?
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