When we first started our zero waste journey, we still discarded empty glass jars. After finishing a condiment or nut butter, we’d throw them in glass recycling bins.
We had often heard other people who follow a zero waste lifestyle explain that they keep, and re-use, all glass jars they ever buy. At the time, this seemed odd to us. We didn’t have use for the jars, or so we thought. And they were fully recyclable anyways.
Recycling is great, and incredibly important. But reusing items when possible is even better, as it saves (often unnecessary) energy needed during the production.
Going zero waste
Since moving to Dublin we have fully embraced the zero waste lifestyle during grocery shopping. Glass jars are not only convenient, they have proven necessary. Though this won’t be the case for everyone, we can suddenly buy most of our dry produce package free.
Previously, we kept all produce in its original packaging. Unless that wasn’t possible because we ripped the bag or the packaging otherwise malfunctioned as a storage solution. Whatever came in paper, card, glass or plastic was kept there, sealed with a clip or simply folded over.
Currently though, we solely buy oats, some types of flour, nut butters, oils and condiments in packaging. We can pick up most other items at Minimal Waste Grocery. (We talked about this place before, we take our dog grocery shopping and she carries some of the glass jars home.) This means that we had a sudden need for containers, to pick up the items that previously came packaged. But a visit to IKEA or a catering supply store to acquire new glass jars is unnecessary. Sure, a large Kilner jar for fermentation is worth investing in, but your kitchen pantry and fridge hold quite a few perfect containers! All you’ll have to do is finish their contents, clean and dry them, and they’re ready to go!
All the jars
We currently have at least 30 peanut butter jars that hold everything from dry herbs and spices to chia seeds and cocoa powder. Our favorites are the Whole Earth Foods peanut butter jars. When cleaned and soaked, the labels come off. The lid is metal and grey, and I love that minimal look.
Other jars that we love are the Meridian Foods nut butter jars. They come in two sizes and have brown or green lids.
When we go to the office, we use these glass jars for so many things. We bring loose leaf tea (that we bought in that jar); we take peeled and diced fruit that can’t be eaten whole (like oranges and kiwis); we take homemade hummus and mashed avocado; we bring sticks of carrot, cucumber and paprika to eat with the dips I just mentioned. These jars are incredibly convenient. Though we cycle to work and bring the jars in our backpacks along with other glass containers, none of them have broken so far.
But food storage is not the only thing we use these glass jars for. We have a tiny jar to safely dispose of razor blades. Though small, it will hold at least 50 blades, giving us plenty time to figure out where to dispose of these to ensure they will be recycled. A bigger jar holds my Organicup. This menstrual cup came with a cotton bag to store it in, but it’s a tad more sanitary to keep it in a jar that we can sterilize.
Other ways to reuse glass jars
If we ever have too many glass jars, or ones that have an odd shape, we no longer put them in the recycling bin. We clean them, make sure they’re dry, and bring them to the market. Minimal Waste Grocery has a crate full of empty glass jars that are free to use for new customers, or those that decide to buy some extra chocolate chips but ran out of jars on their visit. Been there, done that. We take our extra jars when we have them, knowing they’ll be useful to someone else.
Do you reuse the jars that used to hold condiments? Have you found a place to bring the jars you won’t reuse yourself? Have a little think of ways to let these jars serve another purpose. We even use these as toothbrush holders; you can get creative and find a unique use for them yourself!