Creative Ways to Reuse, Repurpose, and Upcycle Glass Jars

Updated on November 20, 2019
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Sarah is a yoga teacher, custom framer, babysitter, and artist. She loves painting and spending time with her rat, gerbil, and hamster.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

When it comes to taking care of our planet, we can take a big step by being aware of our personal consumption. Reducing what we buy, re-using what we have, and recycling everything else are great environmentally-conscious choices. However, not everything that we put in our recycling bins actually gets recycled, and the process itself uses energy. We can avoid going to this step right away by reducing and re-using first. Explore the different ways you can re-use your glass jars and use these ideas as starting points for how you can also use other items that you might typically toss in the bin. Be creative, and have fun!

Candle Holders

Glass jars make excellent candle holders. Keep it simple with just the candle, or consider adding colored stones or shells on the bottom. This is a great choice if you no longer have the lid to your jar. Otherwise, be sure to punch holes in the lid for airflow. You can do this with a nail and hammer. If you would like to create a lantern, you can hang the jar by securing wire to the top. This creates a lovely whimsical atmosphere.

Food Storage

Whether you are buying dry goods in bulk, or just need a container for that last bit of leftover dinner, glass jars are an excellent option. They tend to take up less space as well because most jars are taller than they are wide. Jars with lids that seal tightly are especially good for storing liquids and can even be taken with you on the go. Consider keeping a few jars with lids in the car for when eating out to put any leftover food in. This is a great way to avoid styrofoam, plastic, or cardboard takeout boxes that will probably end up in the trash.

Beverage Containers

Many jars also make great beverage containers and re-usable water bottles. Be sure the lid seals tightly. Cold and room temperature drinks are ideal. Use caution if the liquid is hot, and never pour boiling water into glass, as it may shatter. Fun idea: Use a sock with the top cut off to slide around the outside of your bottle! (Perfect for when you have lost the other sock.)

Small Supplies Storage

Do you have a bunch of little miscellaneous supplies everywhere like staples, push pins, and stamps? Jars work really great for storing these kind of small supplies. Choose smaller jars for items that are super tiny like thumb tacks and paper clips. Jars without lids are perfect for pens, pencils, and markers. For the crafter and artist, store loose crayons, stickers, and fabric or paper scraps. This way you won't have lots of little things everywhere, making your space more contained, clean, and organized.

Gift Jars

You have already heard of gift baskets and gift boxes. Using this same concept, you can easily turn your leftover jars into beautiful containers to house small gifts. If you'd like, you can paint the jar lid, or even easier, simply place a bow on the top. You may even choose to leave the lid exactly as it is. A nice added touch is to tie a ribbon around the jar itself.

Here are some ideas to get you started of what can be placed in a gift jar:

  1. Individually wrapped teabags
  2. A small pad of paper with crayons
  3. Chapstick, balms, and make-up
  4. Hot chocolate mix and marshmallows
  5. Baking mixes
  6. Homemade trail mix
  7. Stickers
  8. Travel size bath products
  9. Small kids' toys such as race cars and Legos
  10. Small snack bags or candies

Flower Vases

Super simple: just add water and freshly cut flowers, and viola! You may also choose to keep dried flowers or herbs in these eco-friendly vases. Jars with smaller openings at the top work better for single flowers and allow them to stay upright. Jars with wider openings allow for a more substantial bouquet. Jars also have a naturally rustic style about them, which can add its own touch of charm to your space.


Glass jars make excellent terrariums. Create your own contained eco-system! You can layer rocks, colored stones, and soil for a lovely visual effect, as you will be able to see everything. Choose an assortment of jar sizes and shapes for a varied and beautiful display.

Potted Herbs

Along with the same idea of housing plants, you can utilize your glass jar to grow herbs, a wonderful alternative for those who don't have access to a space for gardening. These will usually fit nicely on the window sill. Make sure your herbs are in a place for the right amount of sunlight they require.

Serving Food

Not only are jars great for food storage, they can also double as serving dishes as well! In some cases, you can take the jarred food right from the fridge to the table without having to transfer it to another dish. Beautiful and simple in design, glass jars can really highlight and elevate the look of your food.

How do you usually re-use glass jars?

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