As a junk removal company, we see a lot of good and useful things go to waste. Sometimes, we can make sure those things end up in a good home. Other times, we can recycle too. But we also see that much of what we have in our homes can be re-used, and not just recycled or left in a pile for a future junk haul.
On that note, you know what’s crazy? People buy glass jars these days, because they look cool and ‘vintage-ey rustic.’ But most people who shop at modern grocery stores have jars laying around their kitchen all the time – they just throw them away. Yes, recycling jars from the grocery store is a good thing. But remember that recycling still takes up resources. So if you like the look of jars – or organizing and DIYs in general – we’ve got some ideas for you!
Today, we’re going to talk about ways to reuse grocery store jars. While many of these ideas can be used with mason jars, we’re going to try to steer clear of mason jar DIY ideas, since we don’t want you to resort to buying jars when you can repurpose them.
You can easily remove labels and clean out jars that once held your commercial pasta sauce, applesauce, jam, pickles or other edibles. You can also easily add labels, paint and other decor to make them look even more charming.
Plus, this is a great way to start on your path to a zero-waste lifestyle (if you’re into that sort of thing).
1. Repurpose old jars into ‘apothecary’ style containers with knob-lids for your bathroom
With a little spray paint and glue, you can make nifty little lids for your jars, which can be all you need to turn them into appealing bathroom containers. Here is an example from an old curved pasta jar, that got a crystal-looking knob. This one got a layer of white spray paint, and what looks like an old vintage knob from a cupboard. This method of reusing old jars can also be to your liking – we’ve seen people turn toys into the ‘knobs’ that get glued on the lids.
2. Use painted grocery store jars to store loose things and keep your space organized
Give the grocery store jars a little spray paint, and maybe a little dollar-store toy glued on top, and voila! You have a decorative way to store your loose things, and keep your space tidy. You can also put these away in a drawer, to make it easier to find things later. Or, go ahead and put them on display. This helps with craft supplies (pencils, labels, paper clips), sewing supplies (needles, buttons), and more. This blogger used them for children’s room, but we’d say be careful because when glass breaks it’s dangerous, and kids aren’t the most careful creatures… However, you get the idea behind the repurposing project!
In the photo below, you can see jars saved for a feather vase, storing souvenirs, hair clips and sea shells:
3. Make a sconce-style wall storage feature with reused jars
This DIY jar idea will require a trip to the hardware store, and maybe a little help from the employees who work there, if you’re not familiar with some of the tools involved. Hose clamps can be tied to a wood plank to make a neat sconce-style wall feature made out of jars. Here is an example. Any rustic-decorated bathroom could use one of these! Here is a video that shows you how to do this.
4. Refurbish a grocery store jar into a DIY soap dispenser
This jar idea also requires some tools from the hardware store. Well, basically only a drill, if you have one. If not, it’s ok, you can poke holes in the lid with a nail and hammer until you can open a larger hole. Here is a video that shows you how. Here is an example of a soap dispenser made from an old salsa jar. To keep recycling, save your pumps from old soap dispensers for this jar craft!
5. Make new pantry storage jars out of old jars
This is probably the easiest idea to reuse old grocery store jars, and probably the first most of us think of. Just wash out the jars and take of the label. Use cheap, dollar-store chalk labels to make them look well-intentioned (a layer of chalk paint works too). You don’t even have to spray paint these, nor glue the fancy knobs on them like the DIY jar idea above. The more identical the jars are, the more organized your pantry will look. The reused containers in the photo below were from apple sauce jars.
6. Keep small jars for spices
This one is simple: don’t throw out your spice jars! They can be used for more spices! When you buy bulk, you can also get the jar weighed at the store, then refill with just the amount you need (instead of buying a whole bag, or a new bottle). It saves money too! Below is a photo of perfectly good, reused spice jars, and an old maple syrup jar that became a spice jar after a good cleaning!
You can also reuse small jars such as the ones in the photo below, which were once holders for horseradish and green olives:
7. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in commercial store jars
You know what’s not so great about freezing leftovers? When you put them in the freezer in large bins, they take a long time to thaw. But if you use smaller containers, you can eat your grub so much sooner, and with much less ice-poking. Small jars (like from salsa or queso jars) make great food containers for small portions. For example, sauce to go on a single person’s plate of fresh cooked pasta. Or baby food portions. We found this guide on how to freeze food in glass jars properly (you’ll want to avoid cracking).
Larger jars, with wide enough mouths, can also be good for storing foods in the fridge. You can pre-cut your veggies to use in a recipe later, and keep them fresh for longer that way. It can save on the money you’d spend on containers anyway (like the spice jars!).
Plus, when you make your homemade nutella, pesto or baby food, you’ll want a professional looking jar for them, right? So save the ones from the grocery store!
8. Pack your lunch to go in reused jars
You may have seen people all over the internet packing salads in jars. It’s a great idea to use for any type of food-to-go. Just be careful, since lunch containers can get knocked around as you transport them, and broken glass is not fun to eat! However, if you’re going to buy glass food containers anyway, you may as well put your grocery store jars to good use! Though they aren’t going to be flat and wide, so use them for food you can pour out, or food you can dig a tall fork into.
9. Save old jars to make kids crafts
On a rainy day, or a ‘bored’ day, you can have fun with the kids. Or maybe you volunteer Sunday school at church, or teach a primary grade class. There are so many things you can do with kids and jars (and glue, and glitter, and craft supplies…and adult supervision!).
Here are some ideas we found on the web (though the possibilities are endless):
Make a lava-lamp nebula space jar.
Make a DIY snow globe in a jar.
Make lego-head jar storage (this is fun, even for adults)
Make a terrarium in a jar.
10. Make gifts with baking ingredients or bath salts layered in a jar
It’s about time we stopped buying useless gifts for people we appreciate. Why not make a cute jar gift with all the dry ingredients needed to make a cake? If you layer the ingredients carefully, it can look like art, too! Then, add a bow, or some paint or other crafty things to the jar, so it looks like it was well thought-out. This is a great economical gift to make out of old jars too, since you can buy the ingredients in bulk. Here is an example of a gingerbread jar gift. But you can do this with any cake mix.
Or, mix in some bath salts and soap to make a ‘spa jar gift’ out of old jars. How about tea? Loose candies? Rare spices and herbs? The ideas are endless, really, if you start with the ‘gift’ idea and go from there, thinking of other ‘powder-ey’ things that can be layered in jars for others to make something out of.
11. Make decor with hanging jars in the garden (great recycled wedding decor idea)
Hanging jars can be really pretty, especially in the garden. They can also make for great wedding decor. Scroll to idea #10 in this article to get an idea of what we’re talking about here. Some people put things in the jars, like tea lights, which can sit on sand. Or just tea lights alone (the battery-operated ones would be great, since they’ll probably last longer and be safer too). But you can get creative and fill them with craft gems, flowers, or LED string lights, to give only a few ideas.
12. Make a night light lantern out of a jar with LED string lights (great for wedding tables too!)
We’ve seen this as wedding decor, and it’s so simple, yet so effective for a centrepiece. LED lights can be stuffed into old glass jars and lit up for a romantic ambiance at wedding dinner tables. Then the guests can take them home and use them as night lights too, or summertime outdoor lanterns. Here’s an idea of what these repurposed jars would look like. Another hint: paint or glue glitter on them for extra shimmer!
13. Grow herbs in a jar garden
It sounds a bit crazy, because jars don’t have holes in the bottom of them – so how will the water drain out to keep the plant healthy, right? Well, some people are making herb gardens in old jars by putting rocks at the bottom, to help with drainage. You might need to transplant them eventually, but they can be seed starters at first. Here is how.
14. Make an oil lamp from a jar with a lid
We’ll bet you never thought of this one! Believe it or not, there is a Wikihow on how to turn an old jar into an oil lamp. Here it is. We’re just not sure how the store-bought jar lids will handle this craft, so keep in mind you might need to replace them with something a little more able to withstand the burns from heat. Although, this tutorial on the same idea – but using a commercial lid – makes it seem like it should work.
15. Make DIY candles by pouring wax into old jars
Have you ever attempted homemade candles? It’s actually not that hard – just a waxy mess, mostly. And kind of expensive, unless you can find the wick and scents for cheap. But if you like to DIY, it will be so worth it. You can make candles in any type of container that can handle the heat of melted paraffin wax – so yes, jars are doable. But with jars, you can also get cute with your DIY candles. Here is how one blogger made candles out of old baby food jars. Decorate the outside and you’ve got great gifts or party favours!
16. Turn peach jars into drinking glasses
Anytime you see a jar with a wide mouth, like a peach jar (or even smaller salsa jars), you can repurpose them into drinking glasses. These are great because they can hold a lot of liquid, and that will help you get your daily recommended amount of water! Just keep sipping from that jar-turned-glass.
To conclude: grocery store jars never have to be a waste!
As you can see, there are so many ways to reuse grocery store jars, without having to buy new mason jars to do your DIY jar crafts. Plus, the one-piece lids can be so much easier than the two-piece seals on mason jars, which are really meant for canning. The one downside to commercial grocery store jars is that their mouths can be smaller. But, that can also be helpful in some cases. And, they’re not all made the same.
You may be wondering: can I reuse commercial jars for canning? Well, probably not. We found some on the Internet who are doing this, and some who say not to. So we’ll leave that decision to you, but definitely recommend doing some research on it first! If it doesn’t pan out, you still can make use of your old jars in other ways!