10 Ways To Use & Upcyle Glass Jars


The jar. There’s no other item that epitomizes low waste and zero waste living better. It’s beyond useful, versatile, and one of the items that I always have on me. It’s particularly handy because you can use it for SO many different things. In honor of Plastic Free July (a global challenge aimed to help people transition away from single use plastic), I’ve rounded up 10 ways to use a jar. Some are obvious, others not so much!

10 Ways to Use & Upcycle Glass Jars


1. Homemade Lunch. This is one of the obvious ones. I pack our lunches in Ancolie jars. It makes the eating experience much more enjoyable. Eating out of single use plastic encourages us to eat faster and more mindlessly. It doesn’t feel like a real meal! Enjoy your lunch sitting down out of a beautiful container with real silverware and you’ll be able to taste the difference!

2. Takeout/Leftovers. I bring my containers to deli counters and nicely ask the employees to fill my own containers with the food I desire. In all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve rarely received a rejection. In fact, it usually sparks interesting conversations with the employees helping me and other shoppers around me. It’s particularly useful to always bring jars when you go out to eat. When you’ve finished your meal, transfer the leftovers into your jar to take home. This helps you avoid food waste AND plastic waste!


3. Compost. When I’m on the go, I try to always have fruit on me for a snack. The only downside to fruit is that I don’t always have access to a compost! Not to worry! I always have a jar. After using the jar for food, it becomes my transportable compost. I place peals, pits, cores, seeds, etc. into the jar to bring home. Once home, I compost all the scrapes! (Note: If compostable items, like food, ends up in landfill, it doesn’t biodegrade in the same way as it does in a compost. Because there’s so much in the landfill, there’s no access to oxygen. Everything, biodegradable or not, ends up degrading anaerobically – without oxygen- releasing powerful greenhouse gases).


4. Bulk goods. While heavier than cloth bags, it’s advisable to use a jar to purchase some items available in the bulk section. I find that nutritional yeast and dried fruit fare better in a jar. If you have questions about buying in bulk, check out this article on my blog!

5. Homemade Nut Butters. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’m always using my NutraMilk to make homemade nut butters. I purchase the nuts from the bulk section of the supermarket without plastic packaging and then use the NutraMilk to make all the nut butter my family needs (which is A LOT). I store all the nut butter in glass jars! While it’s better to purchase nut butters in glass jars as opposed to plastic, it’s even BETTER to reuse jars you already have. Glass is recyclable, but the less we recycle the better. (Use the code ABBY50 for $50 off your purchase of the NutraMilk + free shipping!).


6. Drinks. Because it can get heavy to carry a reusable coffee cup + a jar, sometimes I carry a jar only. If I do need a drink (coffee, tea, etc.) on-the-go, I use the jar! And, drinks don’t last too long so I can then use the jar for food later on! If using a jar for hot drinks, be careful as the glass can get hot. Wrapping a bunch of rubber bands around the jar can protect your precious hands from the heat.

7. Plants. Jars can act as beautiful vases for gorgeous flowers or as pots for small plants. I think cactus plants look particular great in a jar. Use these as centerpieces for events or to brighten up your house! Use a bunch of jars in all different sizes for an eclectic look!

8. DIY toothpaste. I learned how to make my favorite DIY toothpaste from Lauren Singer at the Package Free Shop opening party in April 2017. Her toothpaste recipe works amazingly well; my dentist is continuously impressed with how great my teeth look! Here’s how to make it: combine 2 tbsp organic coconut oil + 1 tbsp baking soda + 15-20 drops of organic peppermint essential oil in a glass jar. Mix together using a metal stirrer, metal straw, the back of a spoon until combined! When you’re ready to brush your teeth, add some of the toothpaste to your (bamboo) toothbrush and brush away.

9. Storage. Need to organize your bathroom cabinets or your desk? Use glass jars! Upcycled glass jars from nut butters, jams, spreads, are perfect for staying organized. You can put like things together (i.e., paper clips, rubber bands, lip balms, hair ties, reusable cotton rounds) and then actually enjoy opening your cabinet and being able to find what you need!

10. DIY Travel Size. Use small glass jars to transform your larger personal care products into travel sized products. You can transfer your shampoo and conditioner into jars and then store them in a Stasher bag (or other reusable bag) in your checked luggage! You can also get a shampoo/conditioner/body soap bar and store it in a small glass jar! The little jars are super handy for traveling and enable you to avoid having to use travel size products that come in single use plastic packaging!


11. SNACK NAKED. Snacking naked wouldn’t be possible without jars so here’s a bonus use! I use jars to hold my most precious naked snacks- snacks made with food that is plastic and package free. If you want to learn more about “snacking naked,” come to my event with Package Free Shop in Brooklyn on July 17th! We’re going to make the most delicious naked snacks & connect in real life. Learn more about the event and purchase tickets here.

 I hope you enjoyed all these ways to use jars and that these tips inspire you to upcycle the glass jars you purchase! Whenever you purchase something in a glass jar, think twice before recycling it! You might be able to use the jar for forever in one of the above-mentioned ways! How do you use your leftover jars? I’d love to hear from you!