Plastic Free July: How to Reuse Glass Jars

empty clean jars bulk groceries in glass jars


Now that you’ve cleaned and removed labels (or even if you didn’t remove the labels!) from your favorite glass jars, it’s time to learn how you can reuse and repurpose your growing collection.  From changing your shopping routine to getting creative with projects and storage, reusing glass jars is a simple way to start some sustainable habits to continue beyond Plastic Free July. We have several ideas for your glass jars, but the opportunities are endless! Feel free to share any of your tips and tricks in our comment section below!

Buy bulk groceries!

Three Rivers Market bulk groceries chickpeas in a glass jar jars of bulk groceries

Gather all your glass jars and head to the closest bulk grocery store to stock your cabinets! Using your own containers is a much greener way to grocery shop when it’s available. Our favorite place to shop for bulk groceries in Knoxville is Three Rivers Market, where you can find so many kitchen staples. All you have to do is take your jars to the register for taring, fill with whatever you need, label with the product number, and take your jars back to the register to be weighed for checkout! Listed below are many of the bulk goods sold at Three Rivers Market (some organic, some non-organic). Other stores in Knoxville with bulk options include Earth Fare and Whole Foods.

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Rices
  • Oats
  • Other grains
  • Popcorn
  • Flours
  • Sugars
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Granolas
  • Chocolate chips
  • Shredded coconut
  • Gummies & candy
  • Spices
  • Olive oil
  • Maple syrup
  • Soy sauce

Take your breakfast or lunch in jars!

Glass jars are perfect for storing some simple meals and snacks! Try storing overnight oats, yogurt parfaits, hard boiled eggs, granola, cereal, nuts, fruits, or fresh-pressed juices in glass jars for quick, on-the-go breakfasts! You can also use glass jars to store lunches like salads, pasta salads, hummus and veggies, chicken or chickpea salads, and rice and veggies. 

Jar or bottle your homemade recipes!

One of our sweet KnoxFillers brought us homemade vinegar to our last pop-up and made our day! They saved an empty vinegar jar and filled it with their own apple cider vinegar – recipe from The Big Book of Cidermaking. They also recommend Homebrewed Vinegar for several vinegar recipes, including how to make vinegar from food waste!


What could be better than making your own pickles and storing them in an old pickle jar?! We made our own pickles with herbs and cucumbers from our garden, and it’s so simple – find the recipe in the Instagram caption above!


kombucha pouring homemade kombucha in reused jar


Homemade kombucha is another one of our favorites, and it stores best in glass bottles. Check out The Big Book of Kombucha to learn how to brew and flavor your own kombucha!

Make a cute terrarium!


Terrariums can be any shape or size – that’s part of what makes each one so unique. We just passed along some glass jars to Plush Moon Terrarium Co., and we can’t wait to see how they turn out! Follow their Instagram account for upcoming markets and terrarium inspiration!


Around the house storage!

Get creative! Jars can be used for many different purposes. In the kitchen you can use jars for storing leftovers, herb gardening, drinking glasses, flower vases, mixing dressings and sauces, canning, and making your own kitchen staples (like vinegar or pickles!). Save some cute jars to hold makeup brushes, toothbrushes, toothpaste tablets, and other bathroom essentials. Use a jar to store pens and pencils in your office, or to organize nuts and bolts in the garage.

Refill at your local zero waste refillery!


refilling jar with KnoxFill lotion refilling wine bottle with KnoxFill soap

We see all kinds of jars and containers at our pop-ups and markets, and we love when KnoxFillers reuse and fill these jars with zero waste essentials! We have several refill options from dish soap to conditioner to laundry detergent. These store great in glass jars, and we measure by weight, so you can get as little or as much as you need. We provide free donated clean jars for refilling at our pop-ups and markets. Some of our favorite KnoxFiller refill jars include maple syrup jars, apple juice jars, wine bottles, pickle jars, and kombucha bottles. 

Donate or Recycle jars that you won’t use!

If you have a surplus of clean glass jars (labels and adhesive removed, no stinky smells), then keep an eye out for small local businesses that might want to reuse your jars. We usually accept jar and container donations at KnoxFill, but we are currently inundated with donations from our lovely KnoxFillers and friends (Thank you!). We are not accepting donations at this time and will let you know when we are ready for more!

The last resort is recycling your glass jars. The City of Knoxville no longer picks up glass with curbside recycling, so you’ll have to take it to one of our five recycling drop-off centers. Recycling doesn’t solve our waste problem, but it’s better than sending recyclable items to the landfill! Plus, glass (and metal) is infinitely recyclable, unlike plastic and paper. 

Share ideas with other KnoxFillers!

Have you tried cleaning your glass jars? How have you reused and repurposed them? We would love to hear your experiences, thoughts, and creative ideas! Please share any recipes and reuse ideas with other KnoxFillers in the comments below. Happy Plastic Free July!

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