Recycling Glass Jars

We are on the home-stretch of re-siding the front of the house and replacing the windows – a huge undertaking. Today, the window guy is scheduled to shows up to measure and discuss the south side windows so we know how much to save in preparation for the next push.


Then of course there is the dreaded west side which is pretty much all sliding glass doors and windows that capture the view – CACHING, CACHING. Hear it? Add on the house’s insides which needs remodeled with no flooring and cheap kitchen and bathroom cupboards falling apart. It looks more like it’s coming down than up. The barn was not fully completed by the previous owner and, and, and. Our budget is going to make a piggy squeal as we look for money to fix this place up. It will take years and skills we don’t yet have.


This is a photo I am going to copy and is one of my great grandpa who immigrated from Sweden. The little girl with the calf is my mom and her twin bother. The other boy is probably one of the cousins. This picture and another small photo of his son-in-law, my grandpa, who immigrated from Wales which is feeding lambs, will be placed in corners that are blank fields of an aerial shot of the old home place. This fancy work will be done by our daughter the computer expert of the family. The building and clothing speaks volumes of hard times.

Our place seems like a palace when I look at what they had to make do with. So inside this fixer upper of ours, the walls are adorned with photographs of our parents,  grandparents, and even a great grandparent during The Great Depression, not in their Sunday go to meeting clothes but rag tags. They remind us how blessed we are. The black and whites teach me about ingenuity in the face of adversity. They spur memories and as I look back, I find pennies and dollars in the ways they lived.


A few years ago, I got tired of my motley crew of drinking glasses no more than three or four of any one style. I can handle mismatched but they’ve got to have a theme. Silly, I know, but it was driving me crazy. It was canning season and I just couldn’t bring myself to use the unique and definitely really, really, old jars. I feared they’d not last one more boiling pot of water or pressure cooker test, so the pints went into the kitchen cupboard as drinking glasses. The quarts hold dried foods and nuts. Three years later they are still making me smile. One is a plain pint with just the word Mason embossed on it but the one that tickles my fancy is a small square pint that is starting to turn green. I usually keep it in my bathroom for when I wake up with dry mouthed in the night.

Commercial drinking glasses don’t stir memories but the canning jars remind me of sitting on the floor in the kitchen with my three siblings peeling apples or snapping beans while mom tended the stove. I can envision my grandmother with her rickrack trimmed, wrap around apron canning red beets in her carpeted kitchen. I thought that carpet was a crazy idea when they put it in and still do, especially since it was in the bathroom too! We had a grandchild flood the bathroom floor and hallway while she merrily taking a hot shower just a few weeks ago. She’d left the curtain on the outside of the tub.

My mom’s mom would can pears dying them green with food coloring, then serve them on a bed of iceberg lettuce and call it salad. They dumped chicken concoctions and all kinds of things on top  of green leafy bed, always iceberg. It was a fad. How about the pickle everything era? Do you remember that? Green beans, cauliflower, carrots, and even watermelon rinds were stuffed into canning jars and drowned in vinegar. I’ve found a wealth of memories kept alive by those canning jars. The bonus is that they are unique and the grandkids don’t get out glass after glass from the cupboard because they know which one they’ve chosen and reuse it.


The kids have just recently started to like the larger glasses that Kirk and I prefer. We had some slim tall canning jars but lucky for me, I ran out of home canned salsa the past couple seasons before tomatoes arrived to make my own. In the store it wasn’t the label that caught my eye but the jar one brand came in. I probably would have paid extra for it but the fact that it was the store brand and therefor less expensive made the find all the sweeter. I have a funny thing for canning jar shapes and this one was square framed (my favorite) with measurements up the side to sweeten the deal. The fit in my hand was near perfect and tall enough for this thirsty woman to be satisfied. I now have a collection of 12. The best thing is they didn’t cost me anything. Now that’s a bargain! I will probably never buy drinking glasses again.

I love the fact that:

  • I can buy food that comes in jars I want to reuse as drinking glasses and not have to buy glasses.
  • The best part is they only have to look like canning jars to match.

This idea of mine isn’t new. During The Great Depression it was common to recycle. Most of you know about the cloth sugar and flour sacks. They were a cheaper replacement for wooden barrels saving money for the manufacture. The tight woven cloth was printed in pretty floral patterns when they found out woman were reusing them for everything from tea towels to clothing. The labels would wash out. I wouldn’t mind my own tight threaded flour sack but make mine plain please. Alas, this hasn’t caught on in the stores, probably because hardly anyone cooks or sew.

Kirk’s mom liked the pimento/cheese mixture that came in a small, glass jar. She’d save the jars and use them for juice glasses. If you want to learn about recycling, study this era. It makes our green look like what it is, a wimpy feel good fad. Meanwhile, we are pillaging the earth with reckless abandon. Our ancestors in contrast reused what they had and then used it again for something else and then something else again.

I remember when you could go through the landfill or local garbage dump, whichever you call it, and sometimes you came home with more than you dropped off. It was a treasure trove but then again that was back when tools lined the garage walls and dad’s fixed toasters. My husband is our fix it man. His worth is priceless. My granddaughters have faith he can repair almost anything. I have to kind of agree. He just put together a kitchen drawer my pant’s carpenter loop caught on and ripped into several pieces. The sorry material it was made of had me in doubts but indeed it was like its old self when he was done – cheap but workable. One day I’ll find some old quality cupboards to restore and replace these pieces of junk.

Help me out. I’m scouring my memories and Pinterest too. What is some of your favorite money saving tips. I’ll be sharing mine and please share yours. I need cash and they don’t have the 5 cent deposits on pop bottles any more. They don’t even have pop bottles. Yeah, it was the good ole days in many ways.

9 thoughts on “Recycling Glass Jars

  1. Darla

    I save my old jars & put my dehydrated vegetables in it.

    We dehydrate vegetables when they are in season. In the winter, we make soup from the vegetables.


  2. How funny; just because over the years, I have tried to do just the opposite. I tend to keep the matching Kerr jars, and put jelly and pickles in those that do not match to give away. I know that most people will not return the empties (sort of like Tupperware – which I do not use). Some use the old ones in their own kitchens. I know some end up in the recyclery (but at least ‘I’ am not the one putting them there.) The matching ones fit more neatly on the shelves in the pantry.


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