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How to Recycle Glass Bottles and Jars

written by: Jennifer Claerr•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 5/23/2011

Recycling glass bottles and jars can save you money and help to save the planet. Using decorative recycled glass bottles and jars is also a very attractive way to display flowers and to store dry goods and spices.

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    Overview About Recycling Glass Bottles and Jars

    There are many ways to recycle glass bottles and jars without sending them to the recycling center. In most cases, glass containers can be washed and reused for other purposes. When you're shopping at the grocery store, be sure to purchase products that are in attractive and decorative glass containers. If you plan ahead to wash and reuse a glass container, you're not just recycling; you're precycling, too. Recycling a single glass bottle or jar can save enough energy to light a 100 watt light bulb for as much as 4 hours. Thus recycling bottles and jars is definitely worth the effort.

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    Recycling Glass Jars for Storage of Dry Goods

    If you tend to purchase food in bulk from health food stores, keeping it in the original plastic bag isn't a good idea. Glass containers, on the other hand, are ideal to protect your bulk foodstuffs. Spaghetti jars are usually the best choice. To get started recycling, you'll need a bottle brush, some dish soap, rubbing alcohol and Goo Gone, a natural citrus-based cleaner. First, rinse the jar out on the inside. Fill it with water and add some dish soap. Then scrub around inside the glass jar with the large end of the bottle brush. Use the small end of the bottle brush to dislodge any stubborn bits of food.

    Wet the label of the recycled glass jar with water and carefully remove as much as possible with a blunt tool such as a screwdriver. Then wet the jar label down with alcohol. Continue to gently work the label off of the jar with the tool. Then spray some Goo Gone on the remaining adhesive. Allow it to sit for several minutes. Then rub the adhesive off the glass jar with a clean white cloth. Wash the glass jar thoroughly with soap and water and allow it to dry. If the glass jar has a decorative lid, you're done with your recycling. If not, simply go over it with a little craft paint. Then paint the name of whatever product you plan to put in it. Finish it with polyurethane varnish. You can also use white adhesive labels to mark the contents of your glass storage jars.

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    Recycling Glass Bottles for Art and Craft Projects

    Recycling glass bottles for art and craft projects can be a little tricky, since they're hard to clean. Usually, the mouth of the recycled bottle is fairly slender, making it difficult to get the cleaning utensil inside. However, your trusty bottle brush can help here, as well. Fill the glass bottle partway with water and a little dish soap. Then put the small end of the bottle brush inside and scrub well. Remove the label from the glass bottle with alcohol and Goo Gone as described above. Thoroughly wash and dry the recycled bottle. The best bottles to recycle are decorative bottles with colored glass such as wine and vinegar bottles. You can recycle glass bottles to create recycled crafts such as flower vases and candle holders. Using paper mache is a creative way to make your glass bottle look more original and attractive.

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    Recycling Glass Spice Jars

    It can be heartbreaking to spend over $3.00 on a jar of spice, only to discover that the same amount of the same spice can be purchased in bulk for just a few cents. However, the glass jars that these expensive spices come in are ideal for recycling. Wash the jars using the small end of a bottle brush and remove the labels. Once the adhesive has been removed from the recycled glass spice jar, use a tape measure to measure the area where the label used to be. Use this to gauge the size of the new label. In most glass spice jars, this will be about 1 1/2 by 2 inches. Use a ruler to measure these dimensions on a white adhesive label. Draw the name of the new spice in colored pencils or marker on the new label. Draw pictures of the spice or add decorations, if you like. Then simply cut out the new label and carefully align it on the front of the spice jar. This is a very good way to store spices which you ground or mixed from scratch.

    Using these tips for recycling glass bottles and jars will make your home a greener and more beautiful place to live in. It will also save money and give you a creative outlet for expressing your unique personality.