Nothing New: Saving and Repurposing Jars

Saving (and repurposing) glass jars for a zero waste kitchen | Litterless

Our kitchen cabinets are full of glass jars holding grains and beans and nuts and seeds and herbs and spices. It’s more a practical choice than an aesthetic one: glass doesn’t leach the harmful chemicals that plastic does, it’s easy to see what’s inside the jars, and they’re an airtight place to store decanted bulk goods. A devotion to jars is a cliché within the zero waste movement, but, of course, clichés exist for a reason. And in this case that reason is a photogenic pantry an inexpensive and convenient way to store food.

Many of our jars are from secondhand shops or swaps with friends, Ball jars and Mason jars and a few favorite Le Parfait and Fido jars, too. Just as many, though, are saved from food we bought. When I can’t find what I need in bulk, I try to buy it in a glass jar rather than a plastic container. Many of those glass jars I scrub and save and put back to use. We keep them around for sending friends home with extra food and leftovers, for storing small bits and pieces to donate (like so), for serving as makeshift votives or for re-melting spent candles into new ones. For water bottles, for extra glasses at a party. For anything.

I’ve written before about which jars are my favorites to save, with readers chiming in and offering their ideas, too. Here, other resources for putting saved jars to good use: 

-Remove those labels.
-On saving those plastic Ball jar lids (from mayo jars, from other foods) to use again, in the comments on this post.
-“Use what’s useful, but don’t let yourself drown in potential usefulness.”
-Bon Appétit’s editors share their favorite jars to save.
-How to freeze things in reused jars.
-If the lids still smell like pickles (etc), soak them in plain white vinegar for a few hours.

I’m also on today’s Live Planted podcast, chatting with Alyssa about this Nothing New series and why I love writing it. You can listen to the episode here, if you’d like.

Pictured up top, my very favorite jar, one that I took from my parents’ basement when I moved into my own apartment for the first time after college. It’s held oatmeal ever since, and I’ll never scrub off the cheerful label if I can help it. 

Other jar tips for the rest of us? Favorite jars to save, part two?

More thoughts on going zero waste without buying anything new, here.