We all know that we should do our part to help the Earth by recycling as many things as we can, but did you know that reusing an item before you recycle it makes a much greater impact? You can save a lot of money by reusing something that you were going to throw away instead of purchasing new storage containers. Take a look in your recycling bin and see what you can put to good use for you and the planet.
Many ordinary grocery items come in very nice glass jars that can be collected and reused for a variety of your household storage needs.
I have been known to buy multiples of certain brands of sauces and jellies because I like the size and shape of the jar that they come in.
There is an added benefit in that glass is much safer to store food in than plastic bags or containers, which can leach toxins into the food.
Everything is clearly visible and identifiable, and I use them to store everything in my pantry and refrigerator.
You can safely use glass jars in the freezer, if you take a few precautions to avoid cracking the jar. Make sure you don’t overfill the jar; leave three to four centimeters of room at the top to allow for the contents to expand when frozen. Refrigerate the food until well chilled (even overnight) before putting it in the freezer, and when you take out a frozen jar, place it in the refrigerator to thaw instead of thawing at room temperature.
OTHER USES FOR JARS
Your reused glass jars have many uses outside of the kitchen, too.
Smaller spice jars are great for holding desk items like paper clips and rubber bands.
If there is a crafter in your hom
e, sewing supplies, small craft supplies and the like will find a good home in various sized jars, and if you are into making jewelry, a collection of small jars will keep all of those tiny little parts secure and separate.
In the basement, take that disorganized mess of nuts, bolts and screws and corral them into their own labeled glass jars.
A spice rack obtained at a thrift store or garage sale will give you a nice “home hardware department” and has the benefit of using yet another recycled item!
Pour leftover paint into a jar, place a few layers of plastic wrap over the mouth of the jar and then screw on the lid on for an airtight seal. You will never again find worthless dried out paint when you need to do a touchup.
BUT THEY DON’T LOOK VERY NICE!
Now that you have created a collection of jars, you might think that all of those different colored lids and labels are not very pleasing to the eye.
Labels are sometimes difficult to remove cleanly, so I have found that after peeling off as much as you can, rub some cooking oil on the residue and let it sit for a few hours. The oil will dissolve the stubborn glue and the residue will wash off easily.
Here’s a great resource to get those pesky labels off: http://www.creeklinehouse.com/2013/10/the-no-sweat-chemical-free-way-to.html
If you want to get really crafty, you can make your jars look pretty by dressing them up with matching labels and lid covers. Get a pretty piece of fabric at a fabric store (or recycle a piece of clothing or some other fabric item) and cut out circles with pinking shears that are about 2 inches larger than the jar lid. Run a bead of white glue or hot melt glue around the outside of the lid, center the fabric on the lid and hold it in place with a rubber band until the glue dries.
You can tie a narrow ribbon or some raffia around the lid to dress it up even more.
There are also many DIY project online that show you how to tint glass jars which can be really pretty.
Homemade labels can go on the sides of the jar for jars that will be on a shelf or on the lid of the jar if it will be stored in a drawer.
Every time you use an item again before disposing of it, even through recycling, you are doing the planet and your wallet a big favor. Imagine how many precious resources could be saved if everyone reused even one item a week from their trash?