Cleaning glass jars and bottles for reuse
Whether you’re going to fill recycled glass jars or bottles with food or drink for sale, or with food and drink for home consumption, you want to clean them out to start with, right? And you also want to remove those labels so that you can stick new ones that clearly specify the new content of the jar or bottle.
What we do at home is to wash the jars and bottles first and make sure that there are no sediments from their previous content.
The washed glass jars and bottles are then soaked in warm soapy water to loosen the labels. Adding baking soda is optional.
Note that the ease of removing old labels vary. With some jars and bottles, the labels loosen so easily that they float to the surface of the water after a few hours. With others, the remains of the adhesive have to be scrubbed with a brush.
What about jar and bottle caps? If the caps are made of plastic, we clean and reuse. If made of metal, we inspect carefully first for signs of rusting. If there’s rust, we don’t reuse. We just find plastic caps that fit and swap.
Do the jars, bottles and caps need to be sterilized before reuse? Well, sterilizing is often a good idea. But unless you’re going to store infant food and drink in the jars and bottles, it might be overkill.
What we do at home (and this is for food use at home, not selling), we dry the jars, bottles and caps, and store them with the caps screwed on, in a dust-free place, until we need them.
Labeling reused jars and bottles
We could go fancy but, more often, we keep the labeling simple. A piece of paper with the nature of the content clearly written on it is attached to the jar or bottle with a length of clear tape. Sometimes, it’s even simpler. We just use a white board pen and write directly on the glass.
And there are times when it’s really down to the basics. No labels. Since glass is transparent anyway, just peer at what’s inside and unscrew the cap if what’s inside is what you need. I admit that it can get confusing. We have jars and jars of tea in so many varieties, for instance, and it’s not always easy to tell which is which just by peering through the glass. But we manage.
Recycling as a habit
I understand that it’s extra work. But considering that many of the catastrophes we are facing can be traced to the destruction of natural habitats, you might want to think about recycling and reusing glass jars and bottles. A drop in the bucket, perhaps, but a lot of drops can fill a bucket.