How many plastic containers in your home could you replace with glass containers? When you watch videos of home tours by zero waste enthusiasts, you will notice that almost everything is in a glass bottle or jar. In this podcast episode, you’ll get inspired to look with new eyes on everything in your home. The simple glass bottle or jar can cause a chain of events that will lead to a much more sustainable life.
This topic was requested by my friend Alexis, who also inspired the episode on creative reuse of worn-out or mismatched socks. You can inspire a future podcast episode by sending any creative reuse questions to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Alexis said that she has beautiful glass bottles and jars – too beautiful to put in the recycling bin. She had already made a beautiful centerpiece by filling a bottle with LED lights. I never spent a lot of time thinking about glass jars and bottles because I know there are good markets for recycled glass. I wanted to focus my attention on items that would definitely go to landfill. However, it is better for the environment if we reuse jars than recycle them. It takes a lot of energy to pulverize and reconstitute glass, let alone transporting heavy glass from place to place.
There is a machine that can pulverize a glass bottle and make it into sand in only a few seconds. This sand can be used in industrial processes instead of harvesting sand from the environment, and there is a golf course in Laguna Beach which replenishes their bunkers with sand made from pulverized glass bottles. While it looks cool to see the glass pulverized instantly, there absolutely must be better ways to creatively reuse this material.
When I was growing up, we went to the Pop Shoppe where I was allowed to choose one bottle of soda for my family’s six pack, and we returned the bottles every week. Nowadays, my family purchases our milk in reusable bottles that go back to the farmer for reuse over and over. In Europe, there are better systems for recovering glass bottles and reusing them for the same purpose until they are too scratched up or chipped. Mason jars are extremely popular for many Pinterest projects, and many things you do with mason jars can be done with regular glass bottles and jars too.
This podcast talks about:
- ways to creatively reuse glass bottles and jars that don’t require you to change the bottles and jars in any way
- reuse ideas that involve painting bottles and jars
- reuse ideas that involve cutting or melting bottles and jars
- artists near you who want your beautiful glass bottles and jars
- a fun vacation suggestion which is to visit glass bottle houses!
Creative Reuse Ideas for Glass Bottles and Jars in Your Home
Bottle organizer with hose clamps – keeps glass containers from sliding off a sink or counter top
Square wooden box to hold jars – keeps glass containers from sliding off a sink or counter top
Painted bottles with puffy paint for a “sea urchin design” by Danny Seo
Bottles decorated with paper napkins or tissue paper decoupage
- Color Me Happy – teacher gifts with school-supply-themed jars
- Halloween jars / lanterns
- Glass paint on decor items
- Puffy painted dots
- Harry Potter potion bottles
Candy jars from recycled bottles and old spindles or candle sticks
Foods to Make in Recycled Glass Jars and Bottles
These are ideas beyond canning.
- Salads – Lettuce keeps longer in pre-made salads stored in glass jars
- Homemade vanilla, orange and lemon extract
- Apple cider vinegar
- Kombucha or other fermented items
- Elderflower cordial
- Yogurt cheese (labneh)
Creative Reuse Ideas for Glass Bottles and Jars in your Yard or Patio
- Homemade bottle tree
- Purchased bottle tree at Gardeners.com
- Christmas tree made from recycled green bottles
Glass Bottle and Jar Crafts that Involve Cutting or Melting
There are tutorials that say you can cut glass bottles and jars with string and acetone, but I have heard that mostly does not work or leaves a jagged edge. Most artists recommend a basic bottle cutting tool which sells for about $20-40. Making crafts from bottles and jars can be a great craft business for someone who likes to do the same steps over and over with precision.
- Candle holder
- Drinking glass – by removing the neck of the bottle
- Candle in a glass – by pouring in wax over a wick
- Garden cloche or terrarium – These are like mini-greenhouses. You cut off the bottom of a wide transparent glass bottle and then place them over baby plants
- Bottle slumping – looks like the bottle was melted flat and requires a kiln
- Stained glass window – You can make these from the circular bottoms of glass bottles
Recycled Glass Artists Who Might Want Your Colorful Glass Bottles and Jars
Zero Waste Home Tours
These are very inspiring to see how these families have replaced almost all plastic containers with glass ones.
Oberon and Laura Carter in Tasmania
Aline Gubri in France
Aline’s book is called Zéro plastique, Zéro Toxique.
Michael Reynolds, architect in New Mexico
- Bottle Houses in Prince Edward Island, Canada
- Tom Kelly Bottle Houses (a whole ghost town!) in Nevada
- Cary’s Desert Bottle House – an Air BnB made of recycled bottles
Current and Upcoming Exhibits by some of my Favorite Creative Reuse Artists
- In Michigan, there is an exhibit by Michelle Stitzlein called Industrial Nature at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts – only until September 7, 2018!
- Aurora Robson – exhibits in West Nyack, New York, at the Arboretum at Penn State University and in a gallery in Omaha, Nebraska – I would especially love to see her plastic sculptures that are housed outside and which glow at dusk due to solar lights.
- Sayaka Ganz has an exhibit opening at the North Caroline Arboretum in Asheville on September 22 called Reclaimed Creations.
- Thomas Dambo’s giant trolls built from recycled wooden pallets are on view at the Morton Arboretum near Chicago and he just built a new troll in Breckenridge, Colorado.
- Script for this podcast episode about creative reuse of glass bottles and jars (not a transcript but gives the main ideas)
- The Trashmagination podcast theme music is Kitchen from the Marian Circle Drum Brigade.