Ideas to reuse glass jars for sustainable living

Great ideas to reuse glass jars

Ideas to reuse glass jars by University of Worcester student’s Bethany Leek (Words) and Joe Toft (Illustrations).

In my first year at university, a flat mate of mine shared his ideas to reuse glass jars as drinking glasses and storage. It transformed our kitchen into a sustainable space, with jar-lined windows and an overflowing supply of quirky glasses for drinking.

With this extra time during the pandemic and lockdown, I have begun a new sustainability project inspired by STO’s Sustainable Development Goal of ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’.

By changing my shopping habits and buying more jarred products, I have been steadily collecting the reusable packaging to discover what else jars can be re-used for and re-purposed into.

illustration by Joe Toft to show ideas to reuse glass jars for craft supplies

I gave my reused glass jars the job of holding craft supplies.

The possibilities of what a repurposed glass jar can hold are endless, making them a sustainable student’s best friend!

A tall jar from hotdogs was used to store my paint brushes, making a stylish decoration on my desk.

Artists out there can sympathise with the near misses of drinking from the wrong mug whilst painting but using a sealable jar has gifted me a portable and leak-proof container for my paint water. The lid also gave my paint brush the perfect place to rest.

Do you have Inspirational ideas to repurpose glass jars? 

Let us know in the comments box below.

illustration by Joe Toft to show ideas to reuse glass jars for gifts like jam

Reused glass jars are the perfect sustainable containers for presenting homemade spreads and jams.

The pandemic has made gift ideas even more important. To reduce plastic waste and money spent on presents, a jar can become a creative and sustainable handmade gift. Plus they are very student-budget friendly.

The easiest way to reuse your jar is to fill it with written notes. These can be date night promises, happiness reminders, love notes or quotes. You can also gift a money jar by cutting a hole in the lid and giving the jar a crafty design.

Recently, there has been a trend of gifting brownies and other recipes in reused jars. All you need is a your favourite recipe, maybe a crafty design for your jar, and you have the perfect sustainable gift. Filling a jar with someone’s favourite sweets also makes a fun display of a smaller, more affordable present.

illustration by Joe Toft to show ideas to reuse glass jars as lanterns

You can also turn your reused glass jars into sustainable lanterns.

Everyone can agree that the pandemic has made leaving the house harder, and this might be something we avoid doing altogether sometimes. By reusing jars, we can brighten up our homes. Below, l suggest ideas recommended by Nutella and crafts people of YouTube,  that use affordable online purchases and household objects you may already have.

At this time of the year, I aim to make my room as bright and warm as possible. I reuse my jars to hold tea lights and spare fairy lights. All this took was pouring boiling water into the jar to remove left over wax and letting it cool overnight.

You can also paint patterns or silhouettes on the outside of a reused glass jar and turn it into a sustainable lantern. To spruce this up during holiday or festival celebrations, use spare objects from around the house to create seasonal decorations.

With Christmas fast approaching, I had spare baubles and spent my time making a crafty, decorative Christmas jar. Jars that are kept with their lids can be made into snow globes. For families, this will mean putting that spare glitter to good use, water, glue, and any spare waterproof ornaments are also a welcome addition.

illustration by Joe Toft to show a ready to reuse clear glass jar

The wonders of glass jar packaging.

Glass is sturdy and can be used over and over again; all it requires is cleaning. Reusing glass jars is easy, sustainable, helps to save money and has a growing platform of ideas which students at the University of Worcester are adding to.

This project has encouraged me to buy products contained in glass rather than plastic where possible to reduce the amount of plastic waste I create. It’s a student-friendly, sustainable solution we can all try.

Glass is made from raw materials that can be recycled and reused in its production.

For more information check out Recyclenow

Graphic icon by the United Nations to illustrate Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG 12
SDG 12

The COVID-19 pandemic provides each of us the chance to address global climate challenges and adapt our consumption habits in the hopes of a more sustainable future.

Learn more: Sustainable consumption and production 

Image credit (left): United Nations, Environment.


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1 year ago

I use large jars from pickles to make sauekraut, small spice jars to save seeds ( the sprinkle top helps when sowing) I have coffee and sweetener jars that used to be salsa jars, Thai lime leaves in a old pepper corn jar. I used the same large pickle jar as i use for kraut for a terrarium for my vanilla orchid cutting, with a lid to keep in humidity ( it thrives in there). A jar with pens on the table. Coffee/tea jars used to be peanutbutter jars lol. I have a spice jar for azestfor powder for my senior dog because the bag it came it was hard to get into. I save spice jars from spike seasoning and use them for salt shakers and bulk herbs/spices. Kombucha bottles for gingerbug soda. I upcycle hard 😆 I wrapped bailing wire around a jar and made it into a plant hanger for a spider plant. I saved a soy sauce jar for cooking oil and it comes out in a nice slow (small) amount. I’ll probably put glass beads in some spice jars, toothpick and sewing needles and thread etc. So many uses!!! Lol not a hoarder though, clutter drives me mad!

Joseph B
Joseph B
1 year ago

I just used glass jars I had accumulated (and was beginning to feel a bit hoardy about tbh) to protect my newly sprouted pea plants from a late frost.

Ive also used them for small paint brush cleaning and storage of various knick knacks.

Glass is a great material with many extended uses beyond its initial purpose.

1 year ago

I have reused coffee jars for canisters. Use for storing hot chocolate and marshmallows on my coffee bar.also to store nuts; pecans and walnut, The jars have Red tops that match my kitchen decor. I bought the instant coffee at Food lion .

Beth Lowe
Beth Lowe
1 year ago

I love this idea! I have consciously been trying to produce less waste and this is one step further to me achieving that!

Bethany Leek
Bethany Leek
1 year ago

The graphics are amazing! Loved writing this, I hope it helps give people with spare jars some ideas 🙂 I’ve recently been working on a project at home with glass bottles from squash to make lanterns for the garden in the summer 🙂

Joe Toft
1 year ago
Reply to  Bethany Leek

Hi Bethany, I really enjoyed reading your work about reusing jars and found it personally really interesting, so I’m really glad I got the opportunity to publish it on the site and do some illustrations for it too! Many thanks by the way 😄

Michelle Armstrong
1 year ago
Reply to  Bethany Leek

This is exactly how we started our solar light business in 2014. It began by using almost any type of recycled jar, glass beads for the inside, and a solar light for inside the lid. Hand etched designs are on the outside of the glass jars, and now self tumbled beach glass is inside each one.

Mary Justus
Mary Justus
1 year ago

I would love to see your products. Do you have a website?