Reduce Refuse: Give glass bottles a new life

My mother handed me a liter-sized glass bottle when I visited her in February and said, "here, it's a great bottle, I use it for my grape juice." It was originally full of balsamic vinaigrette that she purchased at Costco. It has all of the aesthetic nostalgia of an old fashioned milk bottle, with the depressions on the sides that help you grab and hold onto it without dropping it. You may think this silly, as it could've easily been left in the recycling bin in Arizona and not traveled across the country to claim its righteous place in my kitchen. But this is how my mom and I operate. Every glass jar or bottle has at least one other use, and so passing along this fabulous and lovely milk bottle was a cherished gift.

Wandering Chopsticks provides two examples of simple, floral reuses for interesting bottles. In one example, a repurposed vinegar bottle is used to display a few roses, undoubtedly clipped from someone's backyard (and hopefully with permission! ETA! I stand corrected; the roses are from her garden!). And the second example features grape hyacinth nestled in a tiny Spega Italian yogurt jar (which used to be available at Trader Joe's and is SO INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS) to add a little punch of Spring to a dining table. I used to have close to 20 of the Spega jars when I worked for TJ's. I remember donating them to a friend during one of my many moves so she could use them for a project. Before I gave them away, though, they were lined up in the center of my coffee table and each one held a votive candle.

Before Christmas, I merged my love for Martinelli's apple juice (ok, it's bordering on obsession) and my Christmas decor by lining up their small glass bottles, which are shaped like an apple with raised accents, on the kitchen table with some cranberries and a small tapered candle in each. It looked homegrown, rustic and festive. Juice bottles made of glass can also be kept around and used if you have kids visiting, as they fit perfectly in their hands and aren't made of potentially-harmful plastic.

There are a number of tutorials available for how to reuse glass jars. Here are few I came across, but note that there are innumerable tutorials and information available with a quick Google search:
The glass bottle my mom gave me in February is currently holding a batch of Em's barbeque sauce (YES!). Once the barbeque sauce is gone, we'll save it for a picnic, or for flowers or even for homemade salad dressing. My mom even uses one of hers to store her button collection. By insisting that almost every glass bottle or jar that passes through your hands has a second life, you not only sustain the environment, but you save energy costs from recycling and you also save some cash. Flower vases, storage jars and even decorative glass accents can add up quite a bit. Do your part and make your home look one of a kind at the same time!

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All content © Meaghan O'Malley, 2009-2012. Header image by Rebekka Seale.