12 Ways to Re-Use Baby Food Jars

May 18, 2011 Two comments View all articles in Re-Use-It

You wouldn't think it to look at them, but babies have surprisingly large carbon footprints. One American child alone generates as much CO2 as 106 Haitian children (MotherJones.com). This isn't surprising when you realize the typical child consumes an average of 600 jars of baby food by the time they reach twelve months of age. Multiply that by 4 million (the number of babies born in the United States each year) and you've got a $1.25 billion a year industry and over 2 billion empty baby food jars.

Glass baby food jars are 100 percent recyclable and can be recycled over and over again. Because it's unlikely that someone could re-use 600 empty baby food jars in their lifetime, recycling is the best way to reduce the raw material consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of glass manufacturing. Unfortunately, the Glass Packaging Institute reported in 2005 that only 15 percent of all glass bottles and jars were actually recycled, while the remaining 85 percent were discarded and ended up in the waste stream.

If you don't participate in a curbside pick-up recycling program or have nearby access to any drop-off centers, re-using your empty baby food jars is the second-best method of reducing the resources used for manufacturing, transporting, and producing new jars. Re-using your empty baby food jars also keeps them out of landfills and incinerators. We're sure you could think of plenty of ways to put these cute little jars to further use, but we'll give you some additional suggestions, just in case.


Snow Globes: Let Martha Stewart tell you how to turn your empty baby food jars into seasonal snow globes using plastic or ceramic figurines, synthetic evergreen tips, clear-drying epoxy, distilled water, “a pinch of glitter, and a dash of glycerin.”

Pincushion and Sewing Kit: Visit the Cut Out + Keep web page for instructions on how to make an adorable pincushion and useful sewing supply organizer in 6 simple steps.

Party Favors: Fill baby jars full of candy, bath salts, potpourri or whatever other forms of goodness you can think of, and put a custom label for your shower or party around the outside. Or follow these instructions from the Craft with Confidence blog to turn your party favor lids into magnets so you can impress guests all the more!

Hot-Cocoa-in-a-Jar: Your child can put together this simple but thoughtful holiday gift jar and give it to friends, classmates, teachers, or grandma and grandpa at Christmas. Have them visit About.com for easy-to-follow instructions and photos.

Candle Holders: Pour sand in the bottom of a baby food jar and place a tea light or votive on top. You can achieve the same warm, cozy atmosphere by placing a few of these on your dinner table or around the house without buying fancy candle holders.

Jar Chandelier: Re-use 10-12 baby food jars at a time to make this chic, understated, energy-efficient glass chandelier. Hang it from a backyard tree for the perfect garden party light fixture that is sure to impress your guests. See photos, a supply list, and the ten-step instructions at CasaSugar.com.

Hanging Organizer: This baby food jar shelf is the perfect solution for keeping nuts, bolts, and washers neat and organized in the garage, or needles, buttons, and other small items in one place in your sewing room. You can find the 10 simple steps for making this tidy craft at eHow.com.

Regular Organizer: You can still be organized, even if you don't know how to use a drill; just put your buttons, safety pins, paper clips, rubber bands, or other small items inside some spare baby food jars and keep them in a desk drawer.

Spice, Seasoning, and Herb Holder: Put together your own Italian seasoning using dried herbs you already have on hand. Mix 2 tbsp. basil, 2tbsp. marjoram, 2 tbsp. oregano, 2 tbsp. rosemary, and 2 tbsp. thyme in a small bowl until well combined, then pour the mixture into an empty baby food jar so you'll have it at-hand the next time you cook. Or simply use the baby food jars to keep your spice cupboard organized.

Snack Container: Use baby food jars to pack loose food items like raisins, Cheerios, or Goldfish Crackers in the car for trips.

Planter: Grow dainty flowers or kitchen herbs in baby food jars; just add soil and the seeds, and don't forget to water regularly.

Store Craft Paint and Glue: Large bottles of craft paint or glue can quickly become huge disasters when children are involved. Pour smaller quantities into baby food jars when your kids are crafting, or use the jars to store paint leftover from household projects.


Gary Davis on Nov. 13, 2011 at 5:12 p.m.

This article really could have used some instruction about sterilizing jars and lids for reuse. At minimum, a link to such instruction would be wise. Readers should note that if your intended reuse is for anything consumable, care for sterilization is absolutely necessary. Here is a good how-to: http://www.wikihow.com/Sterilize-Bottles-and-Jars-for-Preserves

Megan on March 5, 2012 at 5:51 p.m.

Love these ideas, thank you!

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