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Go Green and Save Green: Reusing and Repurposing Food Packaging

09/14/2011

I’m excited to be participating in the Go Green & Save Green Series with several other green bloggers this week!  We’ll be talking about different areas of green and natural living, showing you how to go green while saving money at the same time!  Be sure to check out the great links at the end of this post!

Glass Packaging

I have a confession to make. I love glass jars. I’ve devoted an entire cabinet to them and I’ve had to store some of them elsewhere in the house. I just can’t throw away glass jars. I save them after I’ve used up whatever has been in them to reuse it. I also buy mason jars at yard sales when I can find them for a good deal. I just like them. My love for them is not unfounded though. Keep reading to find out how useful they are…

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I didn't even straighten up my cabinet for you. Keepin' it real over here.

Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Glass Jars

  • To store leftovers in the fridgeGlass is better for food storage than plastic. No need to go out and buy glass jars or bowls. Just use what you already have.
  • Make yogurt in them — You’ll save yourself a step (and a lot of dishes!)  if you go ahead and just make the yogurt right in the jars.
  • Freeze food in them —  I like to freeze homemade chicken stock, “refried” beans, soup, and really anything else. 100_2601editThere’s some pear butter in some of those jars. (Recipe coming soon for that!)
  • Organization — I’ve put my button collection in a couple of vintage glass jars I found100_2597edit at a yard sale. This doubles as organization and storage.
  • I also found these jars with chalkboard labels on them for organizing school supplies.
  • Photo Credit: bradensgracewallart

  • Decoration — There are so many beautiful ideas floating around Pinterest using glass jars. I get inspired every time I look at them! (I’m also thinking I need a Mason Jar pin board now.)
  • Photo collage by Nicole from Big Day for 10K

Plastic Packaging

I have another confession to make. I also save plastic packaging. Its not as pretty as the glass jars, but it is useful!

Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Plastic Packaging

  • Organization — This is one of the drawers in my craft supplies cabinet. You’ll notice repurposed sour cream, 100_2598editsugar, coffee, Snickers, and pancake mix containers being used to organize my kiddos craft supplies. If I was really organized, though, I would have labeled everything. (And, in case you are curious, the Snickers container is the wooden box. Its from a yard sale. I promise I don’t buy large containers of Snickers candy bars. The Williams-Sonoma container is from a friend who knows I like to reuse stuff. I usually don’t buy pancake mix either since I like to make  pumpkin pancakes from scratch.)
  • Painting – when you are doing trim work or something that needs a brush, pour the paint in there so its easier to handle and transport than the big container. Makes clean up easier too because you can just throw the container away after you are done using it.
  • Take-home meals – Reuse the plastic containers with lids to send home food with people so they don’t have to worry about returning any dishes to you. I guess you could do this with glass jars too, but I like keeping them. :)
  • Kids play things –Kids can always find something to do with cups. They can be used outside without worrying about it getting torn up or dirty. We’ve got a couple in the sand box. They’re also great in the bathtub. Cheap bath toys!
  • Gardening – I used lots of repurposed food packaging for starting seeds.
  • Storing homemade cleaners – I like to put baking soda in either the parmesan container or one of the spice containers so I can easily sprinkle it out when I need it.
  • Storing bulk items in manageable containers — I often buy items in bulk since it saves money. However, I don’t like pulling out my huge bag of baking soda (or arrowroot powder) every time I need to use any. I’ve poured a more manageable amount into some smaller plastic food containers and now I don’t have to bother with the entire package every time.

I hope you’ve gained some useful ideas for reusing and repurposing food packaging! As they say on Sesame Street, “once is not enough to use most stuff.”

Check Out These Other Great Posts in the Go Green & Save Green Series:

Rebekah at Simply RebekahHow to Save the Planet & Your Money When Home Decorating

Andrea at The Greenbacks Gal Don’t Toss It! Repurpose It!

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4 Comments
  1. 09/14/2011 9:00 am

    Great ideas! I have a ton of canning jars and you’ve inspired me to see what else I can use them for.

  2. twylag permalink
    09/15/2011 8:04 am

    I have a question for re-using food packaging: baby carrot ziploc bags, apple bags (they have breathing holes in), bread bags: how would you reuse them?
    I know the easy answer is to not buy them in the first place, but apples are cheaper in bags, bread only comes in bags here (sometimes you can find bread in a paper bag with a clear plastic strip, but its usually hard as a rock) and no matter how often I try to make my own I still find it more convenient to run down to the co-op and grab a loaf rather than running to the city and trying to see if I can find the right whole grain bread mix anywhere, and carrots also only come in bags here unless you want the tops and the ones that sell them with the tops are usually really old and rubbery and expensive.
    So these types of bags make the majority of our plastic waste.
    How can we reuse them? For what can we reuse them?

    • Kate permalink*
      09/19/2011 9:42 pm

      I wish I had a good solution for you, but I haven’t really come up with a good idea yet. They don’t really fit in the little trash cans in the bathroom. I guess you could keep some in your car to use as a little trash can. You could learn how to crochet and make them into a rug… http://www.hgtv.com/crafting/crocheted-plastic/index.html (I’m only kidding, but I’d think that you were really cool if you actually did make them into a rug!) Sorry I wasn’t more help!

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