Green tip for week #21 — Week of September 21, 2008

Reuse or repurpose glass bottles and jars

Don’t get us wrong, at we are all about recycling – if you are choosing between throwing away a glass jar or recycling it, recycling is clearly the right choice. That said, recycling is not the only good option when it comes to what you should do with your glass Mason jar, salsa jar, jelly/jam jar, etc.

For some reason many people now treat glass jars/containers as disposable/recyclable, without even considering that they may be reusable. Years ago, I remember nothing went to waste for my grandparents. When they emptied a glass jar, it became a new functional tool for some other use.

Plastic containers were not always available in all the shapes, colors, and sizes we now take for granted. In that era, people had to get creative with what was available. The standard jelly jar with screw-off lid became a canning jar for tomatoes, a container for nails or bolts in the workshop, a drinking glass, a way to store leftover stew, and much more.

Recently, as I was about to recycle a glass jar myself, I thought about the fact that millions of these jars likely make it to landfills or recycling centers each year. If they are recycled, at least the glass is reused, but extraordinary energy and renewable resources are expended in the transportation, storage, and recycling process. If you can make a conscious effort to reuse or repurpose such glass jars, you will be doing yourself and the environment a favor. Consider it an opportunity to get organized while focusing on green / sustainability / environmental responsibility.

Glass jars have the benefit of being reasonably durable (if not dropped/shattered), and the fact they are clear allows you to see what is stored inside. For this week’s green living idea, here are some ways to reuse that Mason jar or glass container (feel free to click the “comments” link to add more of your own ideas to contribute to the community):

  • Use the jar to store leftover soups/stews/etc
  • Store sugar, coffee, flour
  • Store small loose items in a workshop (nails, bolts, nuts)
  • Use the jar as a retro / fun drinking glass
  • Store grass seed, ice melting salt, or other outdoor/gardening uses
  • Store pencils/pens/paper clips/desk items in an office closet

There are literally hundreds of possible uses for repurposing or reusing your glass jar, the key of this week’s green tip is just to open your thinking to another way to be environmentally responsible and to focus on sustainability, with minimal cost or complication. Feel free to comment with your own ideas or tell a friend about

Remember that taking small steps today can lead to substantial benefits to the environment tomorrow!

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