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Reusing Glass Jars

Category Reusing
This is a guide about reusing glass jars. Instead of recycling or throwing out your glass jars, find another function for them. From storage to decorating, glass jars have many different ways of being reused.


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By 2 found this helpful
July 25, 2007

Here are a bunch of creative ways to use recycled glass jars from condiments and other foods.

Craft Storage

If you're a crafter, use them to store your crafting supplies! Be sure to decorate each one. For example, if you're using one to store trim, use a piece of that trim along the rim of the jar. Glass jars also make great recycled gift ideas. Clean the jar very well. Then, fill the jar with the dry ingredients for cookies. Try to layer them neatly - brown sugar packed down, flour, baking soda, etc. Then create a cute gift tag using leftover wrapping paper.

By Andi

Gifts In A Jar

You can use them for Gifts in a Jar. Fill them with the ingredients to make cookies, brownies, whatever. After you put the lid on it, put a pretty piece of fabric on the lid and secure with a rubber band, followed by matching ribbon. Print mixing/baking instructions on a small card. Trim the card with pinking shears. Using a hole punch, put a hole in an upper corner of the card. Thread this card on the ribbon you are using to cover up the rubber band. If you use a ribbon that is 1/4 to 1/2 wide, you can put a bead of hot glue down the center of it to secure the ribbon to the fabric covered or rubber banded lid. Finish ribbon off with a bow and add a touch of hot glue so it won't come untied.

There are tons of different mix recipes on the crafting sites on the web: find one that you like, make it "yours" and have fun with it!

God Bless


By GrammySheila

Gift Mix Recipes

Here is the link to ThriftyFun's recipes for gift mixes:

Homemde Hot Cocoa

I use for gifts in a jar. Homemade; hot cocoa with marshmallows, etc. I put a tag on it, top with a fabric round, tied with a ribbon, etc.

By keeper60

Painting Jars

For jars that have pretty shapes, decorate them with the wonderful glass paints and relief decorative (tubes). The paints can be baked in a regular oven to be permanent. The jars can be filled with potpourri, candles, cotton balls for the bathroom, even cookies. I printed off some ideas for creative writing projects for kids and another for adults. Pulling out one a day and writing on that topic is good exercise for writing skills. Hope this sets people going!

By EasternLady

Decoupage Jars

I love to decoupage them. My son and I love making crafts, and use any glass bottles and jars to do this. We just rip or cut out any type of paper (magazine, newspaper, tissue paper, wrapping paper, etc.), into pieces small enough to work with, and cover the clean, dry jar with a thin layer of glue (diluted with water)... then, carefully add each piece of paper, making sure to smooth out all rough areas/or bubbles. Once covered, add another layer of the glue solution over top of the paper pieces. Of course, the finished product will not be water soluble, but it can be made so... with a sealer, found in, either, the crafts section or hardward dept. of Walmart or similar store. I have also used fabric to decoupage, with beautiful results! Your imagination is the limit! Then, if you want, you can add candies, small cookies, mixes, trinkets, etc. and give as personal gifts!

By Heather S.

Small Aquariums Or Terrariums

You can use them to have Betas (Siamese Fighting Fish) in since they don't need an air filter; you can use them as pots. Take some small gravel, put in the bottom, fill partway with indoor potting soil, seeds, then fill the rest of the way with potting soil up to 1" from top, screw the lid on until the seeds grow to little plants, take the lid off, put in a baggy to create a green-house effect, then when they're big enough to be out of the bag, take them out. Be sure you label what kind of plant, and date planted. Mostly works for small flowers (African violets, herbs, ect.)

For The Holidays

If you have a Christmas or Hanukkah party in December, those jars will look absolutely spectacular with lit candles in them, lining the driveway and entrance. I have seen and used them in this fashion and they are breathtaking.

By Margie

Potporri Jars

I fill them with potpourri and as I fill the jar, I use a small stand of 20 clear Christmas lights tucking it around as I fill the jar. When you have it filled you can take a long spoon and space the lights out. Place the cord out the back. Put a rubber band and the rim to hold the cord, then put a doily over the top and tie a ribbon around it . These are great little light and the heat of the lights makes the potpourri smell wonderful! I sell them at craft shows for 20 bucks apiece in a gallon size- now I need more jars having sold over forty !

By Cindy

Snowman Jars

I make snowman lamps out of old jars and the small white or colored Xmas tree lights, usually the 15 light strands. Clean the outside of the jar with soap and water, rinse and dry with lintless towel. Using paper towel or cosmetic squares, rub alcohol all over the outside of the jar. Let dry naturally.

Do not handle the outside of the jar with bare hands--you may leave oily fingerprints, then paint may not stick. Use disposable rubber type gloves. Put the jar over one hand if mouth is wide enough, otherwise, hold the jar by the top rim. Squeeze some white acrylic paint out onto a paper plate. Dampen a sea/wool sponge and dip into paint. Sponge the paint all over the jar, thin coat. Set aside to let dry. Clean sponge (Actually I do several jars at a time.)

When jar(s) are dry, sponge another coat of white paint onto entire surface. Dry, clean sponge. Repeat these steps until jar has at least 3 coats of paint. It should not be too opaque that you can't see through the jar, but opaque enough that you can't see the green light strand too clearly.. Let sit to dry for several hours, or overnight. It is not necessary to bake it.

Later, paint 2 smiling eyes on one side 1/3rd of the way down from the top, using an artist brush, round, pointy one and black paint. Under the eyes, paint a pointy carrot with orange paint, and under that, a silly grin with a liner brush. With an old scruffy brush or a stencil brush, paint a light "blush" on each cheek in pink.

When all is good and dry again, brush a clear gloss acrylic sealer over the entire jar. 2 coats are better than one and 3 thin coats are best. While the sealer is drying, insert the Xmas lights, with the cord hanging out the top.

Make a "stocking cap" out of a scrap of fleece, or a brightly colored kid's sock. Put that over the mouth of the jar, arrange "jauntily", and sew or hot glue jingle bell to the very top or end of the "cap". Plug in the lights, and Voila! A Snowman Lamp!

I make these to sell at craft shows and they fly off my shelves. I price them according to size, starting with $3.00 for little guys that I put a battery tealight inside to $6.00 for the mayo jar size. They make great gifts, too, for teachers, nursing home residents, the aunty or uncle who has everything else in the world, mainly everybody. Oh, and if you don't think you can paint the face, you might try looking for those rub on decal faces at your local craft or Michael's store. Have fun!

By Kathi in Beautiful Wisconsin

Editor's Note: Here is a post about inspecting light in glass jars often to minimize any danger.

Decorative And Gift Ideas

Depending on the size of jars, bigger ones add sand or coloured gravel and put a candle in and tie a ribbon around the top, For smaller ones, insert a tea light candle and do the same at the top as bigger one, these make ideal lanterns in the garden on a nice evening.

Another idea is cover the lids with a scrap bit of fabric or parer, stick flower oasis or play clay on inside of the lid and stick in some artificial flowers into the oasis or clay then screw the jar back onto the lid upside down and then you have a nice floral decoration to display.

Kids could also make snow storms, instead of flowers stick a small toy or figure then fill jar with water and glitter. but make sure the lid is screwed back on tightly so there are no leaks when shaken,

Hope you find these suggestions of interest!

By Gillie

Thankful Jar

You can paint them, decoupage them, glue beads on them, pot plants in them, put pretty collections in them, use them to give gifts in instead of a bag, insert a pretty cloth or tissue paper, cover the lid with a corresponding pattern, tie ribbon with gift card and fill with goodies, gifts, small trinkets, gift cards, etc. they are great to individualize for sharing homemade baked goods. Also, I put a thankful jar out and each person writes what they are thankful for and sticks it in the jar, when we are feeling down and out we pull our thankful notes, and feel better immediately. Hope this helps.

By Tinah

Affirmation Gift Jar

I love my jars! I too do bath salts, candy, cookie, cake and bread mixes in the nicer shaped jars for gifts but I mainly use my jars for day to day storage for everything from food staples (beans, rice, cereals, snacks etc.) to nails, nuts, bolts, screws, rubber bands, paper clips, cotton balls, q-tips, SOS pads, etc. I can't even name all the things I have in all my recycled jars. If I know if I want to keep them in view I will either spray paint the lid or cover it with cloth or paper decoupage so it looks a lot more presentable.

One year when I was strapped for money right at my nephews birthday, I got a really nice jar, painted the lid a very neon orange and filled the jar with little strips of a various colors of brightly colored neon paper. The strips of paper were about the size of those you find in fortune cookies and on each one I wrote a message on it for my twelve year old nephew who was going through a rough time and feeling down in the dumps because of his parents divorce. I wrote things like "You're a terrific kid", "Have a great day!" "Hugs and kisses" "You have a wonderful smile" "I love how you are so kind and caring when talking to Mrs. Jones" (our elderly neighbor) etc. I put about fifty of these affirmations in the jar as well as about ten that offered low cost things like "Good for an ice cream cone" or "Good for a hug" or "Good for one movie ticket" etc.

He only got to pull one strip a day and couldn't look through the jar before he pulled a strip of paper. Every day he had something to look forward to and he never knew if it was going to be a "warm fuzzy" or a little "gift". I put a little tag on the jar explaining all of this but I still wasn't very sure how my very materialistic and spoiled nephew would deal with this as a gift for his birthday. I thought he might think it was lame but he LOVED it! At the end of the sixty days, he asked if we could do it again! Who Knew?

Anyway the idea is that you just need to be creative. I have always been a big fan of recycling and I always need things organized so I just combined the two... Hope you got one or two ideas. Happy jar collecting

By Jane

Painted Jars For Cannisters

My family loves kosher dill pickles. We buy them in large gallon jars. I had about 10 of these jars and didn't know what to do with them, until I got an idea. I have a beautiful canister set that I don't use because it is graduated and it doesn't hold enough. I decided to paint my jars to match my kitchen decor. At the time I was into apples. I painted all sorts of apples and the name of each thing I kept in them. We moved into a new house and the kitchen is "purple". At first I hated it. The theme is grapes, fruit and birds. I used nail polish remover to remove the apples. I redid my "canister" set. They are now grapes and birds. I guess if we move again, I can redo them again. I love my canisters.

By Susie from Buckhead, GA

Feel free to post your ideas below.

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By 7 found this helpful
June 2, 2010

I do not throw away any glass or plastic jars that can be reused. I save the small ones for spices I buy in bulk at the store for a fraction of what they cost in bottles on the shelf. I also use them to store taco mix, gravy mix, beans, etc.

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By 3 found this helpful
March 31, 2009

I try to store my open bags of peas and beans in a glass tea jar (I use a funnel to get them in). This keeps me from having the beans spill all over my pantry when the rubber band doesn't go on properly.

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By 4 found this helpful
January 23, 2012

I reuse all the glass jars that come into my house. The real small ones are great for extra washers and screws, beads, jewelry holders when traveling (I use small pierced earrings), extra chopped veggies, and so on.

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March 27, 2012

I had some old jars laying around and put some acyrilic paint in the bottom with a little bit of water and shook them up and then let them sit to dry over night. Now the kids have colourful jars to store pencils, crayons, and scissors.

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May 18, 2012

A pretty way to display your flowers.

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By 2 found this helpful
March 6, 2014

I started buying the Polar fruit jars at Wal Mart. They are the cutest little jars and the fruit is lovely to eat. When the jar is empty, you would not believe the things I use these jars for.

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By 2 found this helpful
May 21, 2010

Hi. Sometimes I buy coffee in jars that look like small storage jars. I use lots of spices so I find them very handy to use as spice jars. When they are empty, this is what I do. It saves on money and they hold so much more than the small ones that are sold.

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By 1 found this helpful
January 24, 2012

Decorate an old jar (any kind of container will work!) with scrapbooking paper

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April 22, 20010 found this helpful

After I get done with my spaghetti sauce jars, I clean them and use them for canning. It saves money on buying mason jars. These are the spaghetti sauce jars that are the heavy canning jar type.

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June 11, 20050 found this helpful

Recycle your large salsa jars. I use them for my salt, pepper and spices. Just spray paint the lid any color, I use white spray paint then take a nail and hammer in holes on the top of the lid large enough for whatever spice you are putting in them.

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By 1 found this helpful
August 25, 2017

For this tip, all you need is a mason jar, its lid, and a piece of fabric. I use fabric samples that aren't too thick, and look cute together. You can put them in your kitchen full of flour or sugar. You could also use them in a craft room full of buttons, or stickers.

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September 20, 20161 found this helpful

This is a guide about removing odors from glass jars. Although glass containers typically do not retain odors as much as plastic, sometimes it can still be difficult to remove a persistent odor.

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By 2 found this helpful
March 19, 2010

When you buy restaurant size jars of mayo, salad dressing, hot sausages, pickles or pickled eggs, save the jars and use them to store your bird seed or other pet food. It keeps the mice from being drawn into your house and eating your expensive animal chow.

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By 0 found this helpful
October 16, 2007

I don't ordinarily save jars, but I've found that the best to save are the Wyler's bouillon jars, nice size, airtight, and the labels easily come off!

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April 4, 20051 found this helpful

After pricing drinking glasses in the store, I bought a case of a dozen pint canning jars for about 1/3 the cost. I enjoy the "country" look, and can use the jars next fall to can.

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May 17, 20170 found this helpful

Add pretty beads to the lid of a jar and create an lovely gift jar. This is a guide about beaded lid upcycled gift jars.

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October 8, 2010

Years ago I could buy mayonnaise and salad dressing in quart glass jars. No more, that's a things of the past. I just started making my own homemade mayonnaise with my Vita-Mix and wanted to keep it in a glass jar in my refrigerator.

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May 22, 20170 found this helpful

Glass jars come in all shapes and sizes. Their usefulness for crafts and organizing is almost endless. This is a guide about crafts using recycled glass jars.

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December 13, 20160 found this helpful

This is a guide about recycled jar garden vases. Save and use recycled jars as vases for your flower garden.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
April 6, 2009

I have about 20 or more little 2 oz. glass jars with lids. Seems a shame to throw them out. Any ideas what to do with them? Thanks!

By Batwing from Virginia


April 6, 20090 found this helpful

Are they the size of baby food jars? If so, I use them to save misc. nails, screws, washers, etc. My great uncle did the same, but he actually screwed the lids onto a board above his work table and then screwed the jars on so they were hanging rather then taking space on his work table. My sister used them to store her herbs.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 6, 20090 found this helpful

I save those small jars all year. Each summer when I make jelly or jam, I fill several of these small jars with each flavor. The small jars go wonderfully in gift baskets for holidays/birthdays. Also, if someone is ill or there is a death in the family, most people bring lunch or dinner foods. I fix a disposable tray with bagels, muffins, biscuits and include several different flavors of these small jars of jelly/jam. Add some grapes and bananas (most people like these) and you have a breakfast tray that is always appreciated.


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April 6, 20090 found this helpful

I love those little jars! They have so many uses! My favorite use is to group them together and put tea lights in them! They are also great for many homemade gifts. Put bath salts in them, or hot chocolate mix and give them as gifts to all those people you don't know well but would like to gift anyway (mailman, hairdresser, kids teacher, etc). They are also good as seed starters in your kitchen. I wrapped some in decorative paper and then planted wheat grass in them and put them all over the house in places I don't have enough room for larger plants. they are also great mini storage containers for any thing and every thing. Have fun.

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April 7, 20090 found this helpful

Wow! Thanks for all the great ideas y'all. I just love this site.

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April 8, 20090 found this helpful

I use them like the tea light idea, but I put colourful sand in the jars and votive citronella candles on top and put the jars around my deck. They look pretty and keep the bugs away.

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April 8, 20090 found this helpful

Hi, I saw a great project on the internet once, but can't remember the site. Get the kids to paint the outside of the lids gold or silver and decorate around the edge (not on top - you will see why) with glitter, sequins, small beads, etc. Once dry, turn the lid upside down and glue a plastic toy to the lid, e.g. a little Santa Clause (NB! the toy must fit comfortably in the jar when the lid is replaced!) Use epoxy glue (the kind where you have two tubes and you have to mix it). Once the glue has dried, put about a teaspoon of glitter in the jar and fill it with glycerin or baby oil.

Spread epoxy glue thinly all around the inside of the sides of the lid (on the "thread" of the lid), making sure there are no "gaps" in the glue. Screw the lid on the jar and leave overnight to dry. Turn upside down and shake - and voila! your own snowmobile! You can even decorate a small tin, e.g. tuna or tomato paste, and mount the completed snow globe on that, if you want a bigger "base" for the snow globe. This project has so many possibilities - you can build a little "scene", and how about painting the outside of the glass jar with some glass paints to make a backdrop for your scene? Enjoy!

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April 8, 20090 found this helpful

You can make some nice xmas gifts out of the jars. Wash them good and fill them with different kinds of popourie. Cover them with lace and tie a ribbon around the lace. You can cover them with the lids until you are ready to give them away. You can keep these on hand for that emergency gift or when you just want to be nice to smeone.

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June 7, 20090 found this helpful

Use them to store leftover food. Or use them as drinking glasses. Save the lids and use them so that if you knock over the "glass" it doesn't spill out. Peace!

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Answer this Question...


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

June 2, 20100 found this helpful

I store my sugars in glass jars, like the big pickle jars, same thing for flour, cornmeal, oatmeal. Bugs can't get in them, because my house is so small. I decorate my jars first and put them on shelves hung in front of window that doesn't get sun. It is like having my personalized canister set.

By Moonseekerjade from Onset, MA


Glass Jars for Food Storage

Hi! I did the same but I painted the lids on my jars to match the decor of my kitchen. I stenciled the first letter of each thing I have in the jar. For example: S for sugar, F for flour and so on. I stenciled designs on the jars. Sure beats going to the store and paying a big price for jars you can make yourself.(11/09/2009)

By DustiRose, South Carolina

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March 19, 20100 found this helpful

We have a sandwich shop and end up with empty glass gallon jars from the pickles. Any suggestion for a craft or other uses?

By C Hop from Winter Haven, FL


Reusing Gallon-size Glass Jars

Using them for canisters is the obvious 1 ; people are always asking for them on freecycle and Craig's list, I just gave a lady 4 for her to make an herbal tea. You can turn them into aquariums or terrariums frost the outside and put Christmas lights on the inside put creepy-crawlies things in them for Halloween decorations you can ask your customers if they give you an idea you give them a jar, in fact I have 1 in my garage and I put my chicken feathers in. (06/15/2009)


Reusing Gallon-Size Glass Jars

They can be made into lamps. Drill a small hole in the bottom for the cord, u can purchase a special lamp head and wiring. After wiring and before putting the top on, fill the jar with something cool, like shells, marbles etc. Easy to decoupage on too. If u do it on the outside, the inside could still be used. Use a single printed layer from pretty napkins for a semi-transparent look. (06/18/2009)

By thriftmeg

Reusing Gallon-Size Glass Jars

My sister used to take them and make a covering of your choice that was open at top and bottom. She put elastic around top and bottom with the closure much tighter on the bottom. The elastic at the top fits around the neck of the jar. Mine she made me has the following: White eyelet fabric trimmed at the top with white lace with white grosgrain ribbon tied around the neck and decorated with white tiny roses and white pearls. Inside you put a toilet brush for your bathroom. Makes a beautiful holder. (06/18/2009)

By angel3210

Reusing Gallon-Size Glass Jars

Another thing I saw besides the toilet brush jars that my sister made me was one for a bank. I bought this one in Northern Arkansas. The whole thing was painted in this case royal blue. Then a cute horse say from a coloring book or craft book was painted on the front. It said, "Horsing Around Fund". And the lid had an opening put in it for money. My little brother-in-law who is handicapped just adores horses. He loved the bank to add to his horse and bank collection. (06/18/2009)

By angel3210

Reusing Gallon-Size Glass Jars

My first thought was to use them as a cloche'. I root some plants and use cloche's to act as a greenhouse. Love the other ideas too. (06/18/2009)

By suem1009

Reusing Gallon-Size Glass Jars

Why not make pickled eggs in them and sell them too. (06/18/2009)

By busdrivr

Reusing Gallon-Size Glass Jars

Using glass paint, you can paint them to look like pumpkins. The lid you just paint green. You can add green foam leaves glued on the top, if you wish. Then, you can use them to hold your Trick or Treat candy. (06/18/2009)

By Artlady

Reusing Gallon-Size Glass Jars

Make an appropriate sized slit in the jar lid, choose a local human or animal shelter/food bank or any local cause you choose. Make/attach donation details on the jar and place it on your checkout counter ... Make a few and share them with fellow local businesses ... The recipients will greatly appreciate donations and you'll feel good for the effort :-) Even if the amount collected doesn't seem like much, every little bit helps :-) (06/18/2009)

By Deeli

Reusing Gallon-Size Glass Jars

They are great for making sun tea in.

You could donate them--preschools and art teachers would love them.

You could sell them in your shop for $1 each

Sell them at Christmas full of cookies made in your shop (06/18/2009)

By mom-from-missouri

Reusing Gallon-Size Glass Jars

If you have a bulk-food store or a health food (with bulk food) store they might like them to sell for customer storage of bulk food. Maybe you could trade jars for some of their products that you could use at your store. (06/18/2009)

By tennesue

Reusing Gallon-Size Glass Jars

You could take a large, thick pillar candle in the center of the jar bottom and then put small rocks or glass pebbles around the candle to stabilize the candle. Put them outside use as luminaries. I guess you could use them for decoration inside as well, on the counter top or tables?

We did this down the walkway in front of the house one year at Christmas time and it was really pretty! I got the candles at the dollar store and I used all white candles.

You could use other colors at Christmas (red, gold, green, etc.) or switch them out depending on the holiday. Red for Valentines, green for St. Patrick's, pastel for Easter, etc. You could use more than one color candles: red and green for Christmas or red, white and blue for the 4th of July!

Hope that you get lots of neat ideas! Elizabeth Jane (06/24/2009)

By Elizabeth Jane

Reusing Gallon-Size Glass Jars

I use mine for vases, I use rub on decals-usually words,to decorate outside,and colored rocks on inside, my flowers last so long in the jar w/ the rocks. you can etch them, p sponge paint them. (I sponge vodka, wine,etc bottles for vases) (07/04/2009)

By moonseekerjade

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September 29, 20090 found this helpful

Recycle small wide-mouth glass jars to store leftover onion. Store on a shelf where you can see it. No odor and no waste since it is easy to see and does not get pushed to the back of the fridge.

Glass jars are great for other foods, since you can easily see the contents; you know the old saying, "out of sight, out of mind."

By Syd

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April 6, 20090 found this helpful

I hate throwing away and even just recycling glass jars. I wash and reuse them instead. As a result, I am overrun and need some thoughts on additional uses for glass jars (with lids or without).

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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