Growing up with a nursery school teacher as a mom, you quickly learn that everything (including eggshells) can be recycled and used in some new way.


Empty coffee jars become storage containers, wine bottles now house water or flowers, egg shells are crushed and apparently, a brilliant sensory tool for kids and empty tins can be repainted to house stationery.


I thought this level of recycling and reusing was limited to thrifty Nursery School Teachers, and then at our Make Your Own Event I met Gerhard, who reused everything, from packets to empty yoghurt containers. Truth, his green habits made me feel right at home and it dawned on me that either my mother wasn’t that crazy or at least there existed people as crazily green as her.


To tie in with our January theme of Greenery, we’re sharing what to do with all those empty jars and tins that will most likely end up in your rubbish bin.


Reusing vs recycling


Reusing old jars and tins means that you’re keeping them and using them for a new purpose. Recycling means that you’re collecting and depositing them at the relevant places where they’ll be recycled for new use.


Keep only the jars and tins you need to turn into something new. What you have left over can be recycled.


Every year you can recycle the reused glasses and tins and replace them with newer ones.


To recycle your tins, Collect-a-can, a not for profit organisation, organise the collection of cans for recycling. Through their Cash for Cans initiative, they also pay people for cans recycled. To find your nearest collection point click here.


For glasses, the Glass Recycling Company organises the collection and recycling of packaging glass which is 100% recyclable. Click here to see what glass is recyclable and here to find your nearest Glass Bank.


How to Clean Old Glass and Tins


Whether you’re keeping or recycling, you’ll need to wash out the empty tins. For recycling, you just need to rinse it out so that no food residue remains.


For reusing, you’ll want to remove all labels as well.


Tin can labels peel off easily, but glass labels are tougher. To remove the glass labels, soak the bottle in hot water which softens the labels enough for you to rub them off using a sponge or a bit of steel wool if need be. To get them sparkling, wash them in the dishwasher.


10 + Way to Reuse and Repurpose Glass Bottles and Tins


Wine Bottles – Old wine bottles can be reused and become water bottles, candle holders or as vases. A row of wine bottles with a single flower makes a great table centrepiece.


Empty Coffee / Peanut Butter Jars – large empty glass bottles can be cleaned and used to store pantry items like lentils, beans or flour. Alternatively, you can use them to store stationery, nails and screws or miscellaneous items.


Small jars of mustard and capers are great for storing dressings and sauces, or little beads.


Empty tins make great décor pieces – spray paint or cover them with ribbon and fill them with flowers or use them as a candle holder. Alternatively, you can transform them into stationery holders or candle holders.


Sometimes in order to spark some thrifty creativity, images work better than words, so below are the 10 best ideas we found that take old jars and tins and turn them into something useful and stunning. (scroll through and click on the images below to get step-by-step instructions)


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How do you reuse and recycle old jars and tins?


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