Finding new uses for ‘waste’ household items

Glass jars can be reused in a huge number of ways. Here, they've been turned into drinking glasses f

Glass jars can be reused in a huge number of ways. Here, they've been turned into drinking glasses for smoothies. Picture: Getty Images. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I’ve got a ever-growing number of glass jars on my kitchen worktop, all washed up and ready for recycling.

But having watched BBC2’s Inside the Factory this week, which showed how glass jars are made for food (mayonnaise in this case - we Brits get through 40 million kilos of it a year), I’m starting to see them in a new light.

Our kitchen cupboards are so full of jars that we’ve come to think of them as supremely disposable. But making these jars in the quantity required is a seriously high energy, industrial process involving huge amounts of raw materials - sand, recycled glass and soda ash - and an eternal 1400C furnace (the one featured had been burning non-stop for 11 years).

When you know that, glass jars seem to take on a beauty you may not have noticed before.

So, before I have a smashing time at my local recycling point, I’ve decided to find some ways of reusing my jars instead, perhaps as a vase, for storing nuts, pasta or beans, home-made marmalade or jam, or using as a lantern or candle holder, drinking or dessert glasses, pen or cotton bud holder.

But why stop there? There’s been a lot of publicity recently about single-use plastic bottle waste.

The world’s gone mad for soft drinks in plastic bottles (those marketing types have got a lot to answer for) and annual consumption of plastic bottles worldwide is set to top half a trillion by 2021, far outstripping recycling efforts and jeopardising the environment.

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The challenge is to break the habit of buying single-use plastic and, if we do stray, look for ways to reuse the pesky polluters. You can cut them down for growing seeds, turn them into bird feeders, use for watering plants or, with a little ingenuity, create a piggy bank (the top is the pig’s snout).

If you’re looking for other things to recycle, how about using the bags inside cereal boxes for storing food or freezer items or lining the bottom of the fridge salad draw with newspaper to keep vegetables fresher for longer?

? Thanks to Nigel Richardson, from Creeting St Mary, who shared a thrifty tip for the year ahead: buy fruit and veg from markets as it’s cheaper than supermarket produce.

Send your thrifty tips here.

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