7 Creative Ideas for Reusing Glass Jars

By Maureen Wise in Thinking Sustainably

With recycling requirements always in flux, buying grocery staples in glass containers instead of plastic is usually more sustainable. You can also find many ways to reuse glass jars around your home once they've served their purpose. After a good wash, they can be used as cups, vases, or simply to hold leftovers or pantry items. But if you're looking to get a little more creative, here are seven crafty ideas for upcycling glass jars.

How to Prepare Jars for Upcycling

Keep in mind that the glass jars your marinara sauces, pickles, nuts, salsas, or jams come in are not as strong as the mason jars you may use for canning. You'll need to be more careful when crafting, heating, or freezing these upcycled jars. For this reason, they may not be ideal candle holders, either.

When you're preparing a jar for reuse, you'll probably want to spruce it up a bit. To take off the original paper sticker, soak the jar in warm soapy water and peel the label off. If some of the glue is being stubborn, use a citrus-based or homemade cleaner to remove it, or try rubbing some extra virgin olive oil on the sticky residue. You can also use a homemade cleaner to scrub off the printed expiration and lot numbers on the side of the jar.

You may want to change the color of your jar, depending on the craft project you choose. One easy way to do this is to paint it with glue and food coloring and bake it in the oven. Find specific directions for this, along with a video, on Momtastic.

1) Nautical Container

For a nautical addition to any room, cover your upcycled jar with fisherman's netting. These step-by-step directions from It All Started with Paint explain how to make your own netting, but you can also buy netting at a craft store for a similar effect.

Nautical mason jar

2) Pickle Jar Terrarium

I love plants, and my most successful terrarium was in an upcycled pickle jar. It lasted at least five years! Jars that are over two quarts work best, because you can get your hand in there if you need to shuffle plants around.

Poke holes in the lid with a nail and hammer, then add some rocks, seashells, or other gravel-type material to the bottom of the jar to collect water. On top of this layer, add either dead moss, leaves, or upcycled pantyhose. Your next layer is soil, which the previous layer will block from falling into your gravel base. If you can find it, I recommend cactus soil. Finally, add your desired plants. I like these ideas from Den Garden for making a moss terrarium in a pickle jar. Also, make sure you don't overwater your terrarium.

Pickle jar terrarium

3) Candy Jar

Glass jars make the perfect container for holding your family's favorite candies. Decorate the lid with a distinctive small item glued on top, such as a whimsical toy, a dinosaur figurine, or a doll shoe. Your options are really endless. Consider painting the item for extra flair or to match your kitchen decor. Note that clear jars work best for this project—that way, you can see the treats inside!

4) Bathroom Supplies Holder

If you happen to have any fancy door or cabinet knobs, these are perfect for gluing on top of a jar lid for a sophisticated effect. This final look is classy and works well in a bathroom or on top of a dresser for corralling cotton balls, jewelry, or other small items. A tinted or colored jar may also pair nicely with the knobbed lid. Here are some easy-to-follow directions from Consumer Crafts.

5) Sewing Kit

I've personally found that having a sewing kit in the bedroom to sew on a button now and then or snip off a clothing tag is especially handy. Here's another cute DIY from It All Started with Paint to create a nifty sewing kit with a pin cushion top. I keep white and black thread, a few sizes of needles, tiny scissors, and a handful of pins in my mini sewing kit.

Mason jar sewing kit

6) Halloween Scene

There are countless ideas out there for holiday crafts with your kids that include reusing glass jars. The seasonal idea that I'm most drawn to is a Halloween candle jar from Shabby Art Boutique, which even includes a convenient template. You can either paint on or cut out the spooky scene on dark paper. Use the glue and food coloring trick to tint your jar orange, and place a battery-operated candle inside to light it up for a creepy and cute holiday decoration.

7) DIY Snow Globe

Cast-off glass jars are also great for making snow globes. To create the center stage inside your globe, take off the jar lid and glue a platform to the inside, such as a lid from an OJ bottle. Once your platform is set, glue a toy, a tiny tree, or a miniature scene on top of it. Next, fill your jar with water and a good dose of clear glue and glitter. The glue will make the glitter swirl around and settle slower. When you're ready to put the lid and jar together, put a bead of hot glue around the rim of the jar to seal it tightly. Find more specific directions from Hey, Let's Make Stuff.

Feeling inspired to revamp your old glass jars? Do you have another favorite upcycled jar craft? Let us know on Twitter!

Image Sources: Flickr | It All Started with Paint| Pexels | It All Started with Paint

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Why It's Good

Reusing items instead of tossing them is a wonderful way to up your green game—plus, glass jars have so many handy uses!