Crafts from Glass: Reusing Glass Bottles
This past weekend, I attended a local outdoor event where a friend from college happened to be selling a lot of her home made crafts. One concept of hers that particularly caught my attention was a series of beer bottle candles. To make the candle, she cut the top of the bottle off and filled the bottom part with wax and a candle wick. Her craftiness made me think about all the bottles I have at home piled up in my recycling bin, and all the different things I could do (or currently do) myself to reuse them. The great thing about reusing glass bottles or any other recyclable material is that you are not only recycling, but you are also cutting down on the amount of waste you're producing. I've picked a few of my favorite ways to reuse glass jars; some are practical and money saving, while others are more creative (and possibly lucrative if you start selling them).
- Beer Bottle Candles: First of all, any glass bottle can be used for these candles, but beer bottles are a great size, and the variety of labels that they have makes for a variety of unique candles. Cutting the top of the bottle might be a little tricky, but I have watched my friend do it, and it does work. If you don't want to spend a lot of money on glass cutters (and I don't blame you) there are many do it yourself methods out there. To learn more about bottle cutting, click here. My friend used the "burning string" method, which has about a 50% success rate, but it's a fairly cheap method of bottle cutting. After you have successfully cut enough bottles, the next step is a piece of cake. You can either fill the bottles with wax and a candle wick, or you can stick candles in them and have a decorative set of candle holders. They make great gifts and if you end up selling a few along the way, you might also make a bit of extra cash.
- Drinking Glasses: If you came into my kitchen and opened up my drinking glass cabinet, you'd see that a large majority of my glasses are jars-- pasta sauce jars, jelly jars, salsa jars, peanut butter jars. Well, I think you get the idea. By turning old jars into new drinking glasses, I'm reducing how much I throw out, but from a budget standpoint, I'm also saving myself some money by not having to purchase a set of glasses. And as a bonus, if a jar happens to break, I have nothing to be upset about. All I have to do is wait until I empty out another jar in my fridge, and I have a replacement drinking glass.
- Wine Bottle Shelves: When I first moved into my apartment, my roommates and I realized that unfortunately our kitchen did not have adequate shelving. And since none of us wanted to spend any money on a new set of shelves, we resorted to creativity. One of my roommates came up with the great idea of wine bottle shelves. We started collecting 2 Buck Chuck from Trader Joe's and scrounged up some old scrap wood. My roommate cut out small holes (not going all the way through) in each corner of the wood. We placed the wine bottles in each hole and secured the bottles in place with glue. The bottles served as support for our shelves, and we ended up with enough space for all of our pots and pans. Even better, our only expense was the wine, since we found the scrap wood for free! Instructables.com has a great photo of these wine bottle shelves, and a detailed and much more technical set of directions for going about building these shelves.
- Water Bottles: By now, a lot of people are aware that many water bottles contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical which has a higher likelihood of being released into your water if the bottle is exposed to high temperatures (i.e. leaving your water bottle in the car on a 90 degree day). If you would like more info about BPA and its affects, check out www.acacamps.org. Many people are now choosing to purchase BPA free reusable water bottles, which is beneficial on two levels: you are cutting back on waste and you are avoiding the risk of letting potentially harmful chemicals enter your body. If you don't want to go out and spend $5-$10 on a new reusable water bottle, why not consider using a glass jar that you already have at your house. You are saving money by not purchasing a new water bottle, and you are saving even more money by not purchasing disposable water bottles every day. I personally like using pasta jars; they're the perfect size, and as long as you're not using a garlic pasta sauce jar, it doesn't take long for the pasta taste to go away. If you want something a bit smaller, salsa jars are great (but it might take a few weeks before the salsa taste finally disappears).
These are just a few ideas for you to start thinking about if you want to save some money and reuse a lot of the glass jars and bottles you would otherwise toss in the recycling bin. There are all sorts of web sites out there with great ideas for reusing recyclable materials. Makingfriends.com has some great ideas for recycled crafts; they even have a section just on reusing jars. And remember, your recycling projects don't have to stop with jars. Wise Bread has a blog post titled "25 Things to Do With Old Jeans." You can also check out "35 Accessories Made From Recycled Materials" at TheGloss.com. These accessory ideas are actual products for sale, but if you're just looking for inspiration (or maybe even an Earth friendly purchase), this could be a great starting place.
So have fun, recycle, and get crafty!