I save olive oil bottles that appeal to me and the pretty little jars that jam or jelly often come in. I wash off the labels and keep them on hand for a variety of uses.
I also buy new canning jars in various sizes for use as storage containers for boxed pastas and other dry goods.
The French and Italian varieties usually run a bit more, but all are reasonably priced. They look so nice all lined up in your pantry or refrigerator and function so much better than plastic wrap or foil.
~Not to mention, they are eco-friendly, as well!
Tip: Vinegar or lemon juice and soaking in hot soapy water works well to remove most adhesive-backed labels.
If you hadn’t thought of doing this before, here are just a few ways we use all sorts of bottles and other glass containers at our house that might inspire you:
|lotion bottle with pump used for dish soap
DISH SOAP: I saved a brown glass bottle with a pump that originally contained a favorite lotion. I buy the large-sized version of my preferred dish soap and just refill as needed. The charming brown bottle is always sitting out where we can pump right into the sink.
DISHWASHER DETERGENT: I use several swing-latch bottles for powdered dishwasher detergent. Not only are they more attractive than commercial packaging, the long neck allows you to easily pour into the small dispenser and it is easy to see when you are running low.
|dishwasher detergent in swing-latch bottles
MOUTHWASH: I saved a couple of tapered neck olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles that we now use to store our mouthwash. We happen to use a mouthwash that came on the market not long ago that is lavender in color- very pretty to see when we open up our medicine cabinet and can even be left out on a vanity. I buy the large-sized mouthwash and just fill each person’s individual bottle as needed.
|mouthwash in olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles
Tip: Assign each person a different shaped bottle so no need to label.
LAUNDRY DETERGENTS/SOFTENERS: For powdered detergent, I use a glass flour-size canister and I use a charming little metal scoop. For liquid detergent and fabric softener, I use large olive oil bottles (a similar shaped bottle with a tapered neck would work.) They look great lined up on our laundry shelves and make it easy to pour into the small dispensing cavity of our machine.
|Our laundry room shelves: re-purposed olive oil bottles for liquid detergents, softeners –
pharmacy bottles containing essential oil solutions for laundry and housecleaning
Tip: Buy the larger, more economical version of any product with a long shelf life: detergents, softeners, mouthwash, etc. Store these bulk items away and re-fill the bottles, canisters and jars throughout your home, as needed. This is quite a savings in the actual product cost, but also in time and energy spent in trips to the store;-not to mention, it cuts down on packaging waste!
WATER BOTTLE: The long-neck bottles with the attached stoppers and swing wire closures -such as Lorina or Rieme French Lemonade bottles- are perfect as an attractive individual water bottle. I have one on my nightstand and one I take in the car with me. Not only are they earth-friendly, they are much more appealing to drink from than plastic.
Swing top bottles are also handy to take on picnics. You can make up a batch of tea or lemonade and separate into several bottles. It’s easier to pack them and keep them cold than it is to take one large container. You can either give each individual person a bottle or serve from a couple of them.
LEFTOVERS: Most any leftover can be transferred to a jar or other glass container and stored that way versus plastic wrap, baggies or plastic containers. The stackable kind make it so easy to maximize and organize your refrigerator space and you can see what you have at a glance.
Bormioli Rocco’s Frigoverre is a line offering both rectangular and round storage containers. The bowl design is simple and clean and I often use them for serving. They can go directly from the table to the refrigerator. (They can be used in the freezer too and are microwave and dishwasher safe.)
MILK, JUICE, ETC: You can transfer milk and juices and the like to glass carafes or large bottles or jars you have saved. They are more attractive than cartons; keep everything nicely chilled and they can go right to the table that way.
Tip: Have labels on hand and note expiration dates on the bottom of items
(writing directly on the bottom with a glass marker works too)
-and don’t forget to label any items that aren’t easily distinguishable.
PANTRY: I transfer everything I possibly can to bottles and other glass storage containers rather than leaving them in unattractive commercial packaging. For this, I need various glass jars and bottles I’ve saved, canning jars I’ve purchased in various sizes, as well as other large glass containers and canisters I’ve collected from several sources. I do this for cereal, flour, dried pasta, crackers, cookies, coffees, teas…it not only looks better and is easier to organize and inventory, it keeps everything fresh longer.
It may seem a little overwhelming to think about transferring so many items, but just start slow and collect bottles and other glass containers over time. Purchase a few new here and there and be on the look-out for bottles and jars you already buy that might be attractive enough to save for another purpose. I promise that once you have the method down for each area of your home, it won’t seem like a chore at all.
Tip: Have several different-sized funnels on-hand.
It’s an eco-friendly practice as well as economical; —impetus enough for most people to do this. In addition though, it is rewarding each time you open up your pantry (and refrigerator) and see everything lined up all neatly displayed. Rather than being bombarded by loud advertising, you’ll be greeted by a peaceful storehouse of colors and textures —Feng Shui Heaven!
For me, it feels as though I’m selecting goods from a charming boutique market every day and who wouldn’t want that?!
See our pantry in Volume No. 01 ~ Issue 03:
~a collection of my favorite bottles, jars,
canisters, carafes and more can be found in
United States~ France~United Kingdom~Canada~Germany
1-Country Living Magazine;
A Well Kept Home-Household Traditions and Simple Secrets from a French Grandmother
4,6,7,8,9,10 photographs by LeAnn, our house.
12, 13: Frigoverre by Bormioli Rocco, the emporium
Additional sites offering labels and various container options:
Oh my gosh…. this is SO helpful… all those links! I've been looking for the perfect jars for a while now, so this is awesome! Thank you so much, i've been visiting your blog for a while now, and love it!
Do herbs keep well in seals jars like that one photo?
Thanks, Daniella! I'm happy to know you found this post so useful. I didn't see your question before now, but I highly recommend the book above "A Well-Kept Home" for all kinds of household tips including how to preserve most any food item. On page 18, she has the following suggestions for herbs:
~Roll in a damp cloth and keep in the fridge.
~Delicate herbs, such as fresh coriander or basil, can be kept in a closed glass jar.
~You can use herb ice cubes to flavor a stew or soup. This is done by putting finely chopped herbs in an ice-cube tray and then covering with water.
I've never tried putting basil in a jar, but I guess I'll give it a try and see how it goes. ~LeAnn
Love these tips for making household necessities prettier to look at. I hate labels and the ugly containers that cleaners and detergents come in. I need to start saving some of my glass bottles and jars!
Melissa in the UK
Update: Basil does keep well in a closed jar in the refrigerator. Just don't wash it beforehand…must be dry. 🙂