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How to Reduce Waste: Buy Glass and Reuse

Glass Jars

Re-purposed glass jars save money, reduce waste and can look darn pretty too!

These days, it’s hard to go a single day without purchasing something that isn’t pre-packaged. With news of every ocean housing a large patch of plastic, you may feel called to try to do your personal best to cut back on waste. We all know of reusable water bottles and reusable grocery bags, but how can we take it a step further?  One wonderful way to reduce your waste and spend less money is to buy products that come in glass containers and reuse the glass.

While it may be tempting to throw that pickle jar into the recycle bin once it’s empty, rethink its value. The cost that you paid for your food products also includes the container it’s in, so get your money’s worth and reuse.

The obvious way to reuse food containers is in the kitchen. Storing rice and other grain products in glass rather than cardboard boxes or plastic bags may actually extend their shelf life and prevent worms and moths from taking up residence in your quinoa supply (yuck!).   Having these containers to store your food items may also encourage you to buy in bulk, which not only greatly reduces your packaging footprint but also can save you money.


Be sure to clearly label your containers if you use them to hold food.

Because you won’t have the package that explains the contents you purchased, labeling is an important part of reusing glass. To remove the old label, simply place the container in a larger pot or container so that it can be completely submerged with soapy water. Let it sit overnight and you should be able to easily scrape away the label come morning. Some companies use a strong adhesive that might require a little more elbow grease.

Be sure to thoroughly clean the glass container with hot water and soap. You may even choose to sterilize the jars by running them through a cycle in the dishwasher or placing them in a pot with water and letting the temperature slowly rise. If you go the method of the pot with water, be sure that you remove the containers with tongs and place them on a clean towel to dry.

Labeling glass jars with their new contents can be as simple as taking a good marker and writing what’s inside. You could also make it a fun project for the kids and invite them all to make labels that can be glued onto the jars. Feel free to let them get creative and use different colored paper, markers, even glitter! If you’re really in the mood to get crafty, you can use a glass cutter to make cups, vases or toothbrush holders out of wine or beer bottles or even create your own etched jars!

Get creative! Reuse jars in the bathroom to hold cotton balls, bobby pins … the list goes on!

Get creative! Reuse jars in the bathroom to hold cotton swabs, cotton balls, hair pins … the list goes on!

Once you begin to reuse glass jars, you’ll realize just how many uses they have. Not only can you use them in the kitchen, but you can also reuse some as beautiful vases for flowers! Again, get creative and perhaps wrap some burlap or ribbon around them to give them a beautiful look. You can even decorate the lids to give them a beautiful & unique look.

Nutiva spends a lot of time and energy listening to our customers, and we heard what you had to say about glass. We are proud to have recently launched our Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil in the 15 & 23 oz. sizes in glass jars.  Our Coconut Manna and 8 & 16oz  Organic Cold-Pressed Hemp Oil also come in glass containers that are just waiting to be used and reused.

How do you like to reuse glass jars? Do you enjoy decorating them or keeping them as is?  Let us know in the comments section.


  1. I used to love painting old jars/bottles. I used them just for decor, gave them as gifts as jewelry holders (I would put different size branches in them to hang earrings, etc.) and kept some as vases that I still use today on my kitchen table. Lately I’ve been using my jars for on the go meals such as salads, yogurt/granola/fruit “parfaits” and all of the goodies I’ve been juicing. Love this! Glass jars are the best.

    • Ana Victoria says:

      Awesome ideas! Using jars as to-go containers for food or drinks is a great idea – especially for your homemade juice. I LOVE your jewelery jar idea. Isn’t it amazing how just a little bit of intention can turn a seemingly ordinary thing into something special?

  2. I love to glass jars to store dried goods and of course as decor too. I didn’t realize I could use them for toiletries and I think that’s a great idea. It’s so great to be reminded what small steps you can take cause less waste.

    • Ana Victoria says:

      Hi Rose! Great to hear that you are already reusing jars and that you’re excited to expand them into holders for your toiletries. The smallest steps can sometimes be the best. Let us know what else you think of! :)

  3. Super important topic, and you provided some fantastic ideas. It’s all about taking a moment to see the potential in something ordinary, rather than quickly discarding an item we already used. You can use glass jars as candle holders, indoor plant pots, and I’ve even made individual cheesecake deserts in small mason jars – yum! The three RRR’s are in an order for a reason: Reduce, Reuse, then Recycle. This is a great post reminding all of us that repurposing can be fun, creative, and great for the planet!

    • Ana Victoria says:

      I could not agree more Michelle. Rather than focusing on all the things we can’t do, focusing on what we CAN do can make the biggest change of all. Love the point about the order of the three R’s – so true. Thanks for the extra tips for how to use glass jars.

  4. I reuse glass jars all the time. One use is to make a quick salad dressing; a little olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and some herbs, screw on the lid, shake and voila…quick, easy, & tasty salad dressing.

  5. The problem I am having with the jars is
    not being able to get rid of the smell from
    it’s original contents. I soak them in hot
    soapy water overnight then wash them
    in the dishwasher and they still smell.
    Would sanitizing them in a pot of boiling
    water work better at sterilizing them and
    loosing the smell? Also, I do like to use
    the small condiment jars to make my own
    salad dressing (vinaigrette) to pack in my
    lunches. I love all of the ideas I have seen
    here and plan to use them once I can clean
    the jars thoroughly.

    • Ana Victoria says:

      Hi Diane,
      Try using some baking soda to remove the smell. I’ve also heard that putting in some paper towels or newspaper then sealing the jars tight overnight will help to absorb some of the fragrance. Vinegar might be another option as well. I do think that boiling water will help! Let me know how it goes, and thanks for your questions!

  6. lisa la font says:

    this one is TRICKY and can be DANGEROUS if your not careful.

    so if you paint the outside lower 2/3-4/5 of the jar BLACK you can use them to cook in.

    fill 3/4 full with bite sized veggies, rice, and/or noodles, seasonings and water/broth, and an optional cut-up semi-cooked meat product.
    for a soup or stew.

    or this is good on ice cream, fill 3/4 full with fruits and/or berries, an optional sweetener (stevia leaf,honey or any type of sugar)—if you want it saucy thick add a little water and cornstarch/flour (this can be a bit tough because it may need to be stirred after it gets too hot to handle, if its just a little just stir well after its done).

    set your filled jar/jars with lids on loose not tight in a solar cooker and go about your day.
    don’t have a solar cooker….
    not a problem, make one. just go get a few things like a roll of aluminum foil (the cheap stuff is fine), a glue or tape of some sort, a fair size box that the jars can stand up in and have at least 2-3 inches of open space around outside of box to the jar/jars, a panel of glass (a small old window can be reused for this)/Plexiglas for the cover and an oven thermometer (optional).
    line the box with the foil, shiny side showing. stick in place with glue/tape, place thermometer inside and the glass is the top, done!
    place it where it will get direct sun most of the day at least 4-6 hours straight, depending on your area. if your not getting hot enough, tip it slightly toward the sun by placing a few stones or a board under the opposite side, this captures more sun for better temps, if you need more heat make mirrors by covering items with foil to reflect in more sun from around where you have your box set-up this also generates higher temps.

    i hope that wasn’t to much, and that it was in the right place. and please feel free to share my experimental homemade solar oven idea with anyone/everyone who would like to reduce our use of fossil fuels
    thanks, rev. lisa

    • Ana Victoria says:

      Wow Lisa! I’ve never tried to make anything with solar cooking. I would imagine there’s a learning curve. It’s important that we definitely practice safe cooking techniques, especially with meat! THanks so much for sharing.

  7. lisa la font says:

    wanted to add to SOLAR COOKING in jars.


    you can also WAIT TILL NIGHTTIME TO GET YOUR PRODUCTS OUT OF THE SOLAR COOKER they will be cooled off after an hour or so in the shade and not be quite as hazardous

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