Did you just polish off a jar of pasta sauce or jelly? Don’t toss that empty in the container! You can wash and save old glass jars for all kinds of crafty uses.
When it comes to recycling, glass is pretty efficient. The turnaround is quick, and there’s a big market for recycled glass. Like a lot of other recycling, though, the process at the recycle center is better called “downcycling.” Glass jars don’t usually get melted down and turned into more glass jars. Instead, recycled glass is used to make a lower-quality product. Jars, according to Earth 911, might be ground up and used to make fiberglass, for example. After enough rounds of recycling, that glass becomes too low-quality to recycle, and then it’s off to the landfill.
Related Reading: 25 Ways to Reuse Junk Mail
Kind of a bummer, I know, but don’t let this news get you down! Instead of tossing that jar in the bin, you can use your crafty skills to turn it into something just as useful as a pasta-sauce-holding-vessel. Heck, you’ll probably get even more use out of these upcycled glass projects than you did from the jar in its original form!
When you take something that was headed for the recycle bin or landfill and up its value, you’re upcycling instead of downcycling. Not only does upcycling help reduce waste, but when you choose to craft with reclaimed materials like those empty jars, you’re skipping a trip to the store for those materials, which is a double win!
Ready to get your glass jar craft on? Check out the awesome project ideas on the next pages!
25 Ways to Reuse Glass Jars
TIP: If your jar held something stinky, like pasta sauce, chances are even a run through the dishwasher might leave a little residual smell. For some crafts that’s not a big deal, but if you do need to get odors out of your glass jars, try this non-toxic method.
1. Mason Jar Lantern – Don’t you love Mason jars? If you’ve got any empties hanging around, you can turn them into beautiful hanging lanterns. Perfect for lighting up a backyard shindig, now that spring weather is slowly on its way back to us!
2. Silhouettes – The project calls for Mason jars, but you could really create these beautiful painted silhouettes on any reclaimed jars in your stash.
3. Striped Vases – Delicate tissue paper makes gorgeous, translucent stripes on reclaimed jars.
4. Hanging Lights – This is another one that calls for Mason jars but would work with any jar that still has its lid: transform it into an electric lantern!
5. Paper Covered Jars – I love how this tutorial uses just a touch of embellishment, so that most of the jar is still transparent. Perfect for organizing!
6. Create Sand Art - This is a great way to get kids into the upcycling action. Use reclaimed jars to hold beautiful, vibrant sand art that you make together.
7. Stained Glass Jar – Tinted Mason jars are rare, vintage treasures, but you can mimic that look with any old glass jar!
8. Magnetic Spice Rack – Do you have lots of empty baby food jars? Use them to organize and store your spices beautifully!
9. Chalkboard Label Jars – Talk about organizational power! Use chalkboard paint to create labels on your glass jars. When you need to change out the contents, just wipe the chalk away, and write your new label!
10. Frosted Jars – Frosted glass is beautiful, and this tutorial shows you how to create a frosted effect using…epsom salts!
11. Fill it With Booze – Reclaimed glass jars are the perfect vessels for holding homemade, infused vodka!
12. Pedestal Candy Jars – This tutorial uses new jars, but you could easily achieve the same look with reclaimed glass jars instead!
Image Credit: photos by Becky Striepe and Julie Finn
25 Ways to Reuse Glass Jars
Tip: Removing Sticky Labels. Before you can do any crafting, you probably want to get any labels off of those reclaimed jars. Here’s how to do it without resorting to toxic solvents!
13. Seed Starter Pots – You can use reclaimed Mason jars or really any large, glass jars to make these wall-mounted, hanging starter pots!
14. Create a Terrarium – Glass jars are perfect for making sweet little terrariums!
15. Painted Jars – These solid-painted glass jars are a beautiful way to organize your craft supplies!
16. Fancy-Lid Storage Jars – Plain, clean jars make great storage, and I love this project for adding detail not to the jar, but to the lid!
17. Nature-Inspired Floating Candle – Glass jars make beautiful centerpieces, and I love the idea of combining a floating candle with natural materials for an organic look!
18. Hanging Organizer – Get your clutter off of those surfaces with this simple, clever trick. The tutorial uses baby food jars, but you could use larger jars, if you have bigger items that need storing.
19. Another Fancy Lid Idea – If you don’t like so much embellishment but do want to add a pop of color to your jar lids, check out this simple tutorial!
20. Glass Jar Photo Frames – Smaller jars make beautiful, 3D photo frames!
22. Create a To-Go Cup – Turn an old jar into a cup for sipping your drinks on the go!
23. Doily Luminaries – Reclaimed glass jar + vintage doily = gorgeous ambient lighting!
24. Twine-Wrapped Jars – Grab that spool of hemp or jute twine, and get wrapping for a lovely, shabby-chic look.
25. Soap Dispenser – Turn an old jar into a soap dispenser, no power tools required!
I’d love to hear from you guys, too! Have you been doing any fun upcycling with reclaimed glass? Tell us about it in the comments!
Image Credits: photos by Becky Striepe and Photojojo