This post is by Sarah Powers, Happiest Home contributor and Managing Editor, and blogger at Powers of Mine.
A year or so ago, I started saving glass jars. Inspired by the seemingly overnight rise in trendiness of the Mason jar, and coupled with a sort of obsessive satisfaction I get out of not wasting things, my little collection of old salsa, pasta sauce, olive and jam jars grew steadily.
The problem was, I had no idea what to actually DO with the jars. I turned to Pinterest and created a board called Inexplicable Jar Obsession, which I filled with amazing ideas – like twine-wrapped jars filled with floating candles and ombre tinted mason jars – only to realize when my pinning high wore off that I was never in a million years actually going to do those things.
(By the way, if you are the type to do these things with jars, more power to ‘ya. To paraphrase Meagan in her post about baking from scratch, I don’t do it, but I think it’s awesome if you do.)
It has taken a while, but I’ve gradually found very practical – and DO-able, for me – uses for repurposed glass jars in my home.
Here are 5 ideas for reusing glass jars that don’t require a glue gun, raffia, chalkboard paint, or a crafty bone in your body:
1. Drinking glass
There’s something sort of retro about drinking iced tea from a jar, isn’t there? The more jars I’ve collected the more I enjoy using them as glassware. I don’t have a matched set, but to me it doesn’t matter – I have a favorite old salsa jar I use almost every afternoon for a cup of iced coffee with milk and I love it.
2. Pantry storage
There are so many benefits to using old jars to store dry goods in the pantry. It cuts down on oddly-shaped bags and boxes, reduces plastic in the pantry, keeps food sealed up tight, and allows you to see how much you have. I store nuts, seeds, granola, rice, chocolate chips, marshmallows, Cream of Wheat, dried fruit, and whatever else I can fit into the jars I have on hand.
The nice thing about having a variety of jar sizes around is I’m always shifting the contents and repurposing jars differently. In the photo above the jar on the right is getting low on sliced almonds, but after a run through the dishwasher it might hold raisins or become a drinking glass. Low commitment, easy to be flexible.
I buy fresh flowers every week at the grocery store. I never spend more than $5 (even the kids know how to read the price tag when they help to pick them out) and I get a kind of weird satisfaction out of seeing if I can make them last all week.
I love the look of flowers in a glass jar on the countertop, and as they start to droop toward the end of the week, I salvage the best blooms and transfer them to a smaller jar. Turns out, the only thing sweeter-looking than a jar full of fresh flowers is a teeny tiny jar with just a few petite blossoms!
4. Loose change…
…or buttons…or hair ties…or golf tees…or paper clips…
You get the idea. Take a look at the odds and ends that gather on your countertops and other surfaces, and start assigning them to jars! We hung a simple ledge shelf in our laundry closet and started a jar for pocket change, another for loose buttons, and a third for all the miscellany that laundry produces.
5. Dinner delivery
Okay, this last one might border a little on the crafty side, but it’s as far as I go, I promise. When I make dinner for a friend with a new baby I always make the same chili, and I love delivering it in glass jars. I cut a square of scrap fabric (something else I hoard for no reason – but that’s for another post), secure it with a rubber band and tie a ribbon around it. So much prettier than tupperware (and easy fridge or freezer storage for the recipient)!
When I brought the meal above to my friend Steph after the birth of her baby, I also grabbed some daffodils from the grocery store and put them in a tall, thin jar as a vase.
Want to start a jar collection?
- To remove labels, I soak the jars in hot soapy water and scrub with steel wool. For really stubborn adhesive, I spray Goo Gone and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing again. I usually wait until I have several jars saved up and do this all at once.
- Olive and pickle jars sometimes retain their briney odor. Usually a couple of runs through the dishwasher takes care of it, but if it lingers I use those for “open air”/non-food purposes like a flower vase or spare change. There’s nothing like opening up a jar filled with almonds and smelling old pickle juice.
- Since some of the ways I reuse old jars require lids and others don’t, I keep a collection of all lids in one place. That way a drinking glass jar and be converted to a pantry storage jar whenever I need it to.