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Illuminate your Pasta Sauce?

Alright, we're definitely not talking about how to make glowing pasta sauce (something tells me that if it existed, glowing pasta sauce wouldn’t meet our Quality Standards), rather Jami, who shops at our Kansas City store, had a rather unique idea for how to reuse any number of glass jars, including, you guessed it, glass pasta sauce jars. Here’s her terrific idea: "I like to take my glass jars from finished pasta sauce, jelly, peanut butter, etc. and turn them into romantic lighting for our dinner parties on the patio. It's easy: just clean them, remove the outside label, and drop a tea light candle in the jars. Better yet, keep a stash of old candles that have melted down and turn them into one fun layered candle. It’s easy and best of all you've got beautiful mood lighting that benefits both the environment and your dinner party!" How do you reuse your glass containers at home? Is there another easy, environmentally conscious way that you reuse items to add ambience to your outdoor parties?

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50 comments

Comments

Claire Geiger says …

I reuse glass jars for drinks from home or coffee shops. That way, I eliminate the need for a paper cup that gets wasted. Coffee shops are always willing to let you fill your jar up or will do it for you. (Sometimes you even get a discount for bringing your own) They are perfect for taking drinks on the run (especially for college students) becuase they have the screw-top lids.

Sandy says …

The empty pasta sauce Mason jars are great for using on the blender to mix up breakfast protein shakes. After it is all blended I just drink it right from the jar. Only one container to wash.

V. A. Fisher says …

Use clean glass or plastic spice jars to hold little sewing items so you can find them quickly. Whether you need a white shirt button, a thimble, or a safety pin, you can locate it readily. Use larger plastic jars to hold spools of thread. This is a handy and decorative way to recycle!

Janet Ketchen says …

I reuse glass jars every day as I make my own organic kefir. I use a quart glass jar with a plastic seed sprouter lid to make it and often have more than one on the go. After straining it, I pour the kefir into pint glass jars with plastic lids. The kefir keeps longer in glass jars as well.Great for giving it away as well. My kefir is great as an alternative to buttermilk. Love it.

Sandra Hannon says …

I never throw away glass jars! I can always find a use for them. I also love making homemade organic cookies and giving them to my friends and family and people I do business with. They love them and are especially delighted when I present a dozen cookies in a glass jar. I tie a festive ribbon around the lid and, using a hole puncher, attach a lable to the ribbon that says: "Jar O'Cookies". Who doesn't love getting their very own "cookie jar" filled with delicious homemade, organic cookies! I also make my own homemade organic salsa and reusing glass pasta jars is a great way to present this as a gift. I also love re-using glass pasta jars to store picnic foods in. They transport easily, stay very cold in the cooler and are easy to serve from. When I was a young girl, I fondly remember when Pecos cantaloups would come in season because my beautiful grandmother, Ruth, would peel, seed and cube the cantaloups and store them in, you guessed it, recycled glass pasta jars. I am proud to say that I continue her tradition with not just cantaloups, but all melons, such as honeydew and watermelon. The melon stays nice and cold in the refrigerator and looks so beautiful. I have brought many "jars" of melons to summer potlucks. They also look beautiful on a picnic table as centerpieces. Last, but not least, I always store nuts and coffee beans in re-cycled glass pasta jars in my freezer. They keep for many months and whenever I need nuts for a recipe, it is so easy to just measure out what I need. The same with coffee beans. Whenever I need a half cup of beans to process for a french press, it is so easy to measure them out of the glass jar. Storing the coffee in the freezer allows me to keep several varieties of coffee available without having to worry about the coffee becoming "stale." Re-usable glass pasta jars: you can't beat them!

Donna Updike says …

I hate throwing away empty glass jars and lids. I have found that it is possible to reuse jars for preserving applesauce, jams, and jellies because they will re-seal at least one more time. I prepare the jars by washing in hot, soapy water. After I have processed the applesauce, jams or jellies, I fill the jars, tighten the lids and place in a hot water bath. Then they are processed according to the canning directions. I will sometimes decorate the jars with fabric and ribbons to make them look festive. This is a great way to save money (no need to buy canning jars) and to have gifts on hand for holidays and visitors. The best part is that I am able to avoid sending the jars to recycling or to the land fill.

keri says …

we reuse our old glass jars on the patio for two things. first, we fill them with water mixed with a little lemon dish detergent (a natural way to deter mosquitoes), and then place a floating candle inside to make them pretty. second, i like to use them as holders for plastic utensils when we are having a barbeque. for holidays we paint them--red white and blue, etc.

Kathy Jentz says …

I reuse glass jars for seed saving from my garden. They are perfect for it as they are air and water tight. Keeping out moisture is the key for seed longevity. You can easily label jars of collected seeds and line them up in a cool, dark place such asyour basement, garage, or pantry. They can be usedthis way over and over again. Plus they are quite decorative and charming in their own way. My favorite seeds to collect are annual flowers like cleome, hollyhocks, and marigolds. This year I'm being more adventuresome and trying out vegetable seeds, which require a fermenting process to collect them. I trade my collected seeds with others and there are laways plenty of extras to go around.

Elke Muller says …

I love reusing glass jars! I thoroughly clean them and remove the outside paper. After drying them, I use them for dried lentils, dried spices, and pastas. Anything that I purchase in bins at Whole Foods keeps really well in a glass jar - plus it is see-through and I know immediately what I need.

mimi sicard says …

I use my pasta sauce jars for bouquets of flowers for co-works - just wrap jar in a colorful tissue paper and tie with a pretty bow. No worries about getting the vase back or if my co-worker happens to have a vase in her desk.

Alecia says …

I re-use my glass pasta sauce jars to store loose pasta and other small kitchen/household items (bobby pins, elastics, paper clips, pens). I also use them for my Nature Clean Dishwasher powder. Once the box is opened the soap forms a big hard lump. To make it easier to use I pour it into the jars and then each bit of soap is sealed. It stays as a powder and its easy to dispense.

debi moore says …

I reuse glass jars for leftovers...after cleaning thoroughly and removing the labels, I put any leftover foods like soups, pastas, etc. If you remove the lid, they microwave easily at work!

Robin Beattie says …

I find that these jars really come in handy during the holidays, or for hosuewarmings! I re-use the jars to store dry cookie, cocoa, and bread mix. I make up the mixes myself, put it in the glass jars,cut some pretty and festive cloth to place over the mouth of the jar, and screw back on the lid. I then attach a label with the recipe. Voila- the pasta jar has a new life as a thoughtful, homemade present.

Kristy says …

What don't I use glass jars for? After removing the labels and soaking them in warm, sudsy water, I use them to hold popcorn, rice, beans, coffee, tea, cookies, crackers, candies ( and anything from the bins at Whole Foods)...practical and quite pretty in the kitchen! In the craft room, glass jars hold markers, pens, pencils...and In the laundry room, glass jars hold safety pins and lost buttons...the uses are endless!

S, J. Baker says …

I use glass jars with a fairly narrow neck for the fragrant oils and infusion sticks that are so popular now. Purchase the refill oils and sticks rather than the decorative sets with their own containers. I also use jars and bottles to root cuttings from my yard--great for basil, coleus, pothos ivy and any other plants that are easy to propogate.

Marianne says …

I reuse my jars to store a batch of fresh made tomato sauce, leftovers which stay fresher, sauces, etc. I keep the Whole Foods canvas bags in my car along with the same plastic bags for produce and use each time I shop. After washing and allowing plastic produce bags to dry, I reuse them to store freshly washed herbs, lettuce, celery all wrapped in a cloth or paper towel which helps them keep fresh for a couple weeks. I think it's time people go back to using good old ceramic dishes and galsses for entertaining. Food tastes better, they hold up well and the landfills are a little less empty. Gracious dininng!

Akilah Rabb says …

My kids always have a project going. We reuse glass jars to store arts and crafts supplies, mix and store tempera paint, little terrariums and temporary 1/2 day bug habitats (after holes are punched in the metal top), and for kitchen experiments like pickling all sorts of things.

Susan Sivric says …

I wash my pasta sauce jars, paint the lids the colour of my choice, glue pretty ribbons around the lip of the lid or base of the jar, and fill them with all sorts of bathroom products - cotton balls, ear cleaning tips, make-up removal pads - they're fabulous and look so pretty!

Sharon D. says …

I make mini-greenhouses out of glass jars. Just place one with a wide enough mouth over small cuttings, like begonia or African violet. The extra humidity helps them take hold. Haven't had much luck with reproducing the herbs yet.

Laura Ewald says …

I use my old glass jars for storing nails, screws, nut, and bolts, and any other small things in the garage. My husband puts a screw through the top on a wood beam and then you can store all you need in them twist them to the top of the ceiling and still see what's in them. Just be careful taking them up and down!

kath chyna camasto says …

We have reused our pasta sauce jars by filling with sand to make doorstops.

Kris says …

Recycled glass jar candles can be taken up another notch: Tear up colored or printed tissue paper and dip in a little bit of white glue mixed with water. Stick the pieces (papier mache style) to the outside of the glass. They can match your party colors or go with the house. Light them up (after they dry) and they look like stained glass.

Cristina Carolan says …

I reuse glass pasta sauce, pickle, and condiment jars to store seeds and nuts and also use them for sprouting. Sprouts are some the healthiest things one can eat. Soaking nuts makes them more digestable. If you get organic sprout seeds, you can grow your own organic sprouts on the counter and its more cost effective than buying them. You can create different blends and make just as much as you need. Reusing a glass jar is easy and you can put a piece of cheesecloth secured with a rubberband to make rinsing easier. With glass, you don't have to worry about plastic derivatives leaching into your food because it's non porous.

Ellen Lang says …

Old cans can be turned into luminarias by punching holes in the sides and putting candles inside. Putting these along the side of a walk or driveway looks lovely.

Vikki Walton says …

Depending on the color of the glass jar, I use them for different purposes. Dark brown ones from old Kombucha bottles or supplements are great for home-made tinctures or creams. Clear glass ones are good to use for gifts of home-made sugar scrub or granola. Simply paint or attach a cloth to the jar lid and voila, you've got a free container. And instead of putting leftovers in the fridge that become science experiments, using a glass jar is an easy way to spot what's inside--and they come in all sizes, perfect for that bit or bunch leftover.

Alice Marzolf says …

I love to place small vases of cut flowers in different rooms of my house and I find that used glass jars and bottles make great vases for this purpose because they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They also look pretty with the stems of the flowers showing and it is easy to see when water needs to be added. They are also easy to wash and keep clean. I also like to use them for flowers on the table on my deck for picnics and parties. The glass bottles and jars can be made especially attractive by placing a ribbon around the middle and tying a nice bow.

patti connelly says …

I reuse glass containers by filling them with all of the bulk nuts and seeds I purchase and storing them in the fridge. This way, the paper bulk bags don't absorb the oils from the nuts, the nuts don't go stale and I have fresh nuts and seeds for snacking and/or baking always on hand readily viewable when I open the refrigerator. Then I reuse the paper bulk bags for my kids lunches or save in my "paper box" next to the fireplace.

Libby Jennison says …

Reuse are reduce are easily the two overlooked of the three R's-- reduce, reuse, recycle. In terms of reusing items, I find glass jars have many uses, including the many that were already mentioned above. In addition to those, I like using the jars for sun steeped tea. I fill the jar with room temperature water and a few tea bags, depending on the size of the jar and the amount of water. Then I set it outside in the sun for a few hours until it is steeped. There is an energy savings from not using the stove, as well as the reuse of the jar. I usually end up putting these in the refrigerator for iced homebrews, and label them with a sharpie according to the nature of the day they were made: Dreamy Jasmine, Lazy Brew, Sweaty Earl... It's a good idea to keep a closer eye on white teas, like jasmine, that have a tendancy to get bitter if left to steep for too long. If that's the case, and you find yourself with a bitter jasmine, pour over ice instead of refrigerating. The melting of the ice will dilute the tea. Still bitter? I've found that perfumey iced teas, like jasmine or earl, are really good over ice with milk and a touch of honey. They are good blended into a slushie too. Happy Brewing!

Carole A. Howard says …

After removing labels, washing, & drying, I love to use my empty glass jars - especially some of the jelly jars that come with the glass handles, for serving iced tea, lemonade, iced coffee, juices, or mixed drinks. Some of those jelly jars have thick enough glass to serve hot coffee or tea instead of in a regular mug for breakfast. These are great for backyard picnics, luncheons, or brunches - save them up for a "set" of glasses or mix n' match as you like! All of my friends love being served in these "glasses" - keep an eye out for some of the ones that have raised glass designs on the front of the jars. [Kids love these, too, as they can see what is inside their "glasses" - serve kids different colored juices at a party - really brightens up the table!

Sommer says …

We use them to store dried herbs from our garden. That way we can enjoy homegrown parsley, basil, thyme, etc. all winter long! Mustard, caper, and other condiment jars are particularly attractive and can be left on the counter for easy access while cooking.

G says …

I reuse my glass containers by removing the labels, washing them, and reusing them for storage containers. We don't use plastic bags or plastic containers, and the reused glass jars are free! We use them for everything, from storing leftovers, to storing opened bags of cereal, beans, anything that came in a plastic bag. What a positive impact on your pocketbook, the environment, and on your health, if everyone stopped using this much plastic!

Char says …

I am using my jars for change. I have them in a cabinet and show them to my grandson and let him know that this is for "Disneyland" when he is five! He may not understand this but helps put the change in the jar which may actually be teaching him to save!

Diana Hunt says …

I borrowed an idea from a friend: take the shortest string of mini Christmas lights (usually about 25 lights) and coil it in a quart jar. Add potpourri in the middle. When you plug in the lights, they warm the potpourri, providing both a soft scent and a pleasant glow. This is a lovely thing to put in the bathroom for a nightlight or for guests, especially around the holidays. You can vary the colors of the lights by the holiday (e.g., red, white and blue for Fourth of July!). If you have outside electrical access, you can plug in one of the Christmas tree cords with spaced outlets, and use these jars to illuminate a patio or deck. Just make sure they are placed so no one will trip over the cords!

Beverly Nussbaum says …

I love to recycle glass jars. Almost everything edible that I buy in bulk or in paper packaging gets tranferred to a clean recycled glass jar when I get home: coffee beans, grains, flours, nuts, rice, small pastas, dried peas and beans, snack mixes, granola, olives. I also use them to store perishables and leftovers in the fridge. Recycled jars provide sturdy storage that protects the contents from odors, critters, and oxidation. The transparency enables me to see what's inside and reminds me to use something up or buy some more when the supply is running low. The jars come in all sizes, clean easily in the dishwasher, and best of all, they are free.

Libby Jennison says …

I like the idea of using them for doorstops, Kath, and it also gave me an idea... my boyfriend has a really nice hollowed gourd that he filled with sand... but he uses it as an incense holder-- just sticks it into the sand, and lets the ashes fall into the sand. I think I'll try that with a wide mouthed jar.

Jan Waldhoff says …

I usually like to have more than just a cup of tea or I make a smoothie breakfast. The normal 16 oz cup or glass is not enough. I use it a glass, it is great and if I need a large glass of water. I don’t care if they get broke. Storing things like garlic that makes containers smell who care if it is a jar that you can recycle when it gets broken or needs to be replaced.

Helena says …

In the summer, I use glass jars and the hot interior of my parked car to make yogurt. I put scalded, cooled milk with yogurt starter in an assortment of glass jars (which I place inside a baking dish to make carrying them about easier), and then I put the whole thing in the passenger footwell of my car. After 4 or 5 hours on a hot summer day, I have delicious creamy homemade yogurt. Then I just put lids on the jars and put them in the fridge. This does take a little advance planning but it is pretty effortless for a great product.

W James Hadden Jr says …

Why does reuse of glass containers have to relate to consumption-driven outdoor parties? Isn't it enough to clean and save jar and lid? We most often do this when we preserve fruits or jellies—we use new lids in these cases, but reuse both jars and tightening bands. When we make pesto, hummus, or a variety of tomato sauces, we always turn to previously-used yoghurt or dipping-sauce containers. We do call a halt at road-kill plastic water bottles!

Karen Goldberg says …

I am saving all of those jars from our Sweet Leaf Tea Lemonade for a science project for my son's class. They will be dying some water and mixing it will other liquids of different densities. When they shake it up, it will be a wonderfully colorful mixture. When it sits for a short bit, they liquids will settle based on their densities and separate. The mason jars seal well so it will be something good to take home and share with friends. Learning in class is one thing but when a kid can take it home and retell the lesson to someone else, it takes on a whole new life.

barbara says …

I save my jars for storage of my sewing and craft supplies, herbs I dry from my garden, current bugs to identify, dog cookies I make for my poochies and give away, decorated gift jars to fill with candy at holidays, collections of marbles, rocks, loose change,....hope. the wider the mouth the better, glass only of course.

m huse says …

We use glass jars for many things, incluing many of those listed above. While I like to recycle as much as possible, cleaning the jars can be very wasteful of water usage. This is minimized by washing other dishes on top of the jars first to both clean them and loosen rhe labels, soaking stubborn ones by leaving in used dishwater with some hot water added, waiting until a bunch of labels need soaking and by diverting the dishwasher discharge water into a dishpan (use gloves to empty-do not touch woth your skin!) for soaking.

Sean O'Connor says …

I re-use jars to store smaller items to keep them all organized. One is full of change.

amy says …

I keep my glass bottles to simply drink out of them. these could be jam bottles, milk bottles, pasta sauce, etc. After cleaning them and removing the labels, they take on a very different look. they have characters that you wouldn't have notice before. they come in various sizes so you can use them all different purposes: a small glass of juice, a big glass of water, and good glass of ice-tea. they brighten up your glassware collection and make it fun.

Nina says …

We reuse our glass containers (with the glass lids) from candles for spices and herbs. They look great and we are recycling. Purchase the candles with the lighter scents as it is much easier to thoroughly clean the jars and lids, the plastic portion of the lids sometimes retain some of the candle scent. We usually stay with vanilla or mocha scented candles.

Jessica Swartley says …

I love glass jars! We use them for everything. I am a pickle fanatic so we have alot of pickle jars. I sterelize them before I use them. If the label has a nice look to it I will leave it on and use it for a center piece with candles or tee flowers floating in water. I also like to cut out pictures and modge podge photos all around it or magazine and newpaper clipping so you can see the candle light from the inside. Be creative and have fun.

Mary Ann says …

I use my glass jars in combination with my FoodSaver. They have lids that can be purchased to be used on (wide or small mouth) mason jars. Once the air is sucked out of the jars, the flavor and freshness of the food lasts longer. They can be used on dry ingredients such as coffee beans & nuts or left-overs in the fridge. Anything that can stretch my food dollar has a star in my book.

Marguerite says …

after cleaning the jars, besides using them for storage containers as many have mentioned, I also use them as sterile outdoor drinking jars. I put fresh lemonade in them and can park the jar almost anywhere and not worry about dust or bugs getting into my drink. It's great!

Tracey Sullivan says …

I reuse jars to store left over items that have strong odors, such as scallions, onions, chives, and garlic. the seal is air tight, and they last longer than using plastic wrap or foil.

Wendy says …

My sister reuses her glass jars as drinking glasses for her and her family. She loves how different they all are. Small jars for juice, large jars for water etc.

fran says …

I love glass jars too. However so many of the lids have strong odors that I find impossible to remove, and I can't find replacement lids. Any suggestions on how to banish lid odors?