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The List: 7 Projects For Kids To Upcycle Jars And Bottles

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With more municipalities ending glass recycling, those jars and bottles can be upcycled into fun projects for the whole family to make.

Now that some municipal programs are no longer accepting glass in curbside recycling, I’ve been thinking more about what can be done with glass jars and bottles. The answer: Plenty!

I’ve used wine bottles for planters and vases , and jars come in handy as juice glasses or organizers. But with a little creativity, and a couple of pint-sized helpers, the glass that I don’t (or can’t) recycle can transform into a wide variety of artsy objects, both beautiful and functional. These projects are a great activity for the last few days of summer or for a weekend afternoon.

1. Stained glass jars. I bought some special glass paint to make faux stained glass on a window, and I’ve been casting around for ways to use what’s left. I just love the beautiful Mondrian-inspired stained-glass jars created with translucent paints by a blogger at Mason Jar Crafts. If you don’t have stained-glass paint you can get a similar effect simply with colored Sharpie markers. The jars would look great lined up in a sunny window, or as a candleholder for a tea light.

2. Glass-jar terrariums. A larger jar, such as for spaghetti or salsa, would be ideal for a miniature terrarium landscaped with moss, stones, and succulents. For terrariums with the jar on its side, some straight sticks could be hot-glued to either side of the jar to keep it from rolling. Just the right size for a desk or a windowsill, these projects would make for a good teacher gift on the first day of school!

3. Calm-down jar. I love the idea of glitter-filled jars that can help young kids reign in their emotions by watching the swirling sparkles settle. But since there has been a lot of press recently about the environmental damage done by glitter, I recommend using an alternative. I’m going to try it instead using some plastic beads saved from one of my kids’ favorite necklaces that broke. You could also try it with sand and small pebbles.

4. Jar aquariums. My fish-loving daughter will go crazy over these mini aquariums, filled with rocks, plastic sea creatures, plants, and blue-tinted water. They’re a fun project for a birthday party or an after school playdate. Look for small toys and trinkets to decorate the aquarium with. I can imagine other jar dioramas that could make use of plastic animals, dinosaurs, soldiers, or fairies that otherwise might get lost or tossed.

5. Wrapped bottle vase. If you don’t mind your kids turning last night’s wine bottle into today’s craft, making a pretty yarn- or string-wrapped vase is a fun and simple project. I like this one because it also upcycles the odds and ends from my yarn stash, none of which are quite enough for a whole knitting project.

6. Twinkly nightlight. The pretty blue, amber, or green of a bottle makes a nice nightlight. This project requires lots of adult involvement since it requires a drill and a hot glue gun, but the results are well worth it!

7. String holders. Perfect for kitchen twine or balls of gift-wrap ribbon, these painted string holders are so cute! Kids will have lots of fun panting a face onto the jar lid.

Repurposing glass jars for fun projects to do with the kids (or by yourself — no judgment!) should make it easier to transition to not having glass recycling in your area!

Do you have other cool ideas for projects with glass jars and bottles? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

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  • Elaine C. 2 days ago
    I am a big fan of yogurt and there is a new one out now that is in a little glass jar. The Qui french yogurt jars are perfect for rinsing out and using as tea light holders. They also work for small make up brush holders if you put craft sand or the little stones used in fish tanks, and then you can put the make up brushes in them. These jars are great for that also because they are small and don't take up alot of room on the bathroom counter. :)
  • Tara A. 5 days ago
    As one who cans their own food - if you are gifted with a jar of home-canned goods - PLEASE return the jars to he who gifted you rather than try one of these reuseages. The craft market has upped caused the prices of these jars to skyrocket. If you ask any canner, no doubt they will have a few they would gladly give you that maybe have a miniscule chip somewhere that would make it il-advised to put in a pressure canner. After that - these are great ideas!
  • Deborah W. 9 days ago
    Yes - jars make great drinking glasses - I know of a few restaurants that use them. I keep a glass container that I filled with shells, dried flowers, marbles, and other trinkets that is really joyful looking. There are many arts & crafts for everything. Thanks.
  • Judy N. 9 days ago
    Can I recycle my coffee pods? Rinse them out & then put in recycle? thanks
  • Barbara W. 10 days ago
    I like the short wide mouthed jars for many of the uses that several of you have mentioned.
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