Monday, August 29, 2011

New Life for Recycled Jars

I'm writing up some sample articles that I hope to get published through an online site.  Here's the first one-- trying to play off things I know.  Would love your feedback!

There are a few things I hate to throw into the recycling bin, namely useful glass jars.  I especially like the jars my family’s preferred spaghetti sauce comes in and I’m always washing them and removing the paper labels so that I can repurpose the jars in a variety of ways.  I typically start by washing the jars with soap and water, running them through the dishwasher and then rubbing 91% Isopropyl Alcohol over whatever bit of the label and glue is still stuck to the glass.  A little scrubbing and it’s sparkling!

Here are a few ways I use recycled glass jars.  When I need a quick gift for a teacher or a neighbor I often turn to my pantry for a glass jar.  I tie a little ribbon around the lip to cover the glass thread track and then pack the jar with flowers either cut from my garden or picked up at the grocery store (usually for less than $5). 

I’ve also found these glass jars wonderful additions to outdoor entertaining.  Adding wire to the lip and creating a loop, these jars become hanging lanterns.  You can add a ribbon to cover the glass thread and wires.  I use especially long loops to attach the lanterns to the supports under our large market umbrella, added tea light votive candles and voila! Instant twinkle lights that are simple and charming.  The same idea works well when attaching the jar lanterns to trees in the garden. 

Another use for recycled glass jars is to use them on picnics, which is why I try not to throw out the lids when I clean the jars.  If you think about it, this is actually a return to the original use of the jar.  I like to pack items such as pasta salad or garnishes into the jars.  It’s so much easier to add salsa or chutney topping on location rather than deal with a soggy sandwich.  The jars are surprisingly durable for transport, but usually I wrap a cloth napkin or towel around them and pack them tightly in our picnic tote just to be safe.  You can use the napkins or towels as part of the picnic too.  Cloth napkins are not only more elegant, but are more difficult to blow away in the wind.    

Glass jars are great to have around when it comes to craft projects.  When my little boy wants to pull out his paints, I pull out the jars which I then fill with water for washing his brushes between colors.  Why dirty up a drinking glass when I have jars that could go into the recycling when they get too messy to clean.    

I encourage you this week, as you use items in your kitchen or around the house, to see if you can think of another way to use everyday items before you put them on the curb for recycling.  

Do you have ideas on recycling glass jars and other household items?  Share them with me!  

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