Tag Archives | glass jars

6 Things That Make Going Green Easier

6 Things That Make Going Green Easier {TheGreeningOfWestford.com}

There are some things that make going green so much easier.  These aren’t super expensive items.  Just little things that make your life a little easier being green.  

I’m not talking reusable bags, water bottles, lunch boxes and the like.  I’m assuming you already have these items.  The things I’m talking about, make it EASIER to use these items or avoid others.

Disclaimer:  The links below are affiliate links which means if you happen to order these items though the links, I will received a little cash.


1) Bottle Brush   

Indispensable for cleaning waster bottles.  For years I used my baby bottle brush. I have since graduated to this one and I love it.   This one was about $5. 


2)  Small Cleaning Brush  

I use this to clean out my stainless steel reusable straws, but they also come in handy when cleaning out water bottle or sippy cup spouts.  This one is $6. 

Mine came with my stainless steel straws, but you can order them separately.  The straws are really cool though!  My kids love them.

If you need both a bottle brush and small brush, take a look at this combo for $10.



3)   Label maker 

A must for labeling reusable water bottles, lunch boxes, glass jars used for food storage, and general organization.  When you have reusable items, you want a way to label them so you don’t lose them.

My mother-in-law gave me mine as a Christmas gift years ago.  BEST GIFT EVER!  I never realized how pricey it was.  She said she got an amazing Black Friday deal.  I hope so, because it’s nice and all, but almost $90?!  I’d probably try this one if I were getting one now.  This one is listed at $15.99.


4)   Dry erase markers  

They work really well when you are in a hurry and need to label the top of a glass jar before putting it away.  Yes, the marker can wipe off if touched, but I’ve had pretty good luck.  You can find these any where pretty cheap.  I always grab a few during the back to school sales.

5)   Carrying bag for reusable bags  

Something to coral all the reusable bags so they aren’t floating all over the place really helps.  It’s so easy to grab this and go!  Anything will work.  I use this system I won in a contest, but any small tote bag would work.  Use what you have.


6)    Glass jars 

I save ALL glass jars that enter the house – spaghetti sauce, pickle, jelly, salsa jars are a particular favorite.  They are great for storing items in the pantry, refrigerator and even in the freezer.  Why are these green?  Because we can replace plastic containers and plastic wrap with these glass jars. These are basically FREE.


What are your must haves?

 This post has been shared at List It Tuesday, Natural Living Monday,Happy Healthy Natural Green Party, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways


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From Food Waste to Fried Rice

From Food Waste to Friend Rice {The Greening Of Westford}

This year’s goal is to reduce my food waste.  It amazes me how much food goes bad in my house.  And I think I’m pretty good at planning and eating up leftovers!

The biggest issues I have now are:

  1. Condiments
  2. Using my freezer
  3. Eating things out of my freezer

For some reason, I have loads of condiments both in the pantry and the refrigerator.   Some I use on a regular basis – like soy sauce, ketchup, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar.  Not a problem.   But then there are others like white balsamic vinegar, deli style spicy mustard and an array of Asian items.  Things I bought for one particular dish and probably never used again.

I have been making an effort to freeze items I won’t use BEFORE they go bad.  I made corn chowder and a lentil pasta sauce recently.  Both really yummy, but too much to eat.  Before they went the way of the science experiment, I froze them.  Of course, I also tossed a few things that didn’t make it to the freezer in time.  You win some you lose some!  To help me with this one, I find I need to have loads of freezer containers around. I use glass mostly, either mason jars or jars from pickles, apple sauce or spaghetti sauce.  Marking them is key too – I have found that a dry erase marker works wonderfully on a metal lid!

This leads to issue #3 – eating food from the freezer before freezer burn sets in.  My freezer is stocked! Time to start eating.

I have come to the conclusion that I need to plan my meal sizes better.  We are ending up with too many leftovers.  I try to get creative with the leftovers.  I’m not big on reheating the same meal – and neither is my family.  I try to think of the leftovers as ingredients for something else like pizza toppings or add-ins to pasta.

My latest creation is fried rice!  I made some the other night with leftover brown rice, eggs, leftover veggies and the most usual array of Asian condiments.  I had little bits of oyster sauce, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce.    So I mixed them with a little rice vinegar and fresh ginger.  It was pretty tasty!  And I eliminated 2 of my random condiments.  Now I will say right up front – the picture at the top is NOT mine.  Honestly, it tasted WAY better than it looked!

There are great resources on the web and pinterest.  Some of the most helpful to me are:
All Recipes – you can enter the ingredients you want to use up and they will suggest recipes
Love Food Hate Waste – great information on the food waste problem and how to combat it
Still Tasty – for each category of food, there is detailed information on how long it is good for and the best way to store it.

It is amazing what you can come up with with a little effort.  Now I just need to work this into my weekly routine.

How do you deal with food waste?

Top Photo Used under Creative Commons License.  Credit Jerry Wong via Flickr.


Thrift Store Treasures

Over the past few years, yard sales and thrift stores have become favorites of mine.  You just never know what you will find!  The prices can’t be beat and I love knowing that I saved something from getting tossed.  

When my daughter was about 18 months old, I filled our backyard with loads of fun outdoor toys for her.  All from yard sales.  I don’t think I spent more than $20 total.   We had more than she could ever play with – a play kitchen complete with fake food and dishes, riding toys, a Cozy Coupe (we ended up with 3 of these when her twin brother and sister came along), sand toys, a rocking horse, you name it.  

One year for Christmas, all of my son’s gifts were purchased at yard sales.  I would have gotten some for the girls too, but everyone seemed to be selling boys’ toys that year.  Again, you never know what you are going to get.   And I have to mention, that the one item I purchased from the store (because I couldn’t find it on Craig’s list or yard sales), he rarely played with.  

Kitchen items are plentiful also.  Here are a few of my favorites.

I found several of these glasses.  I think I bought 12 of them for about $2.  We use them for pudding mostly. I also found a set of ice cream sundae glasses.  Those are fun!  I am still on the lookout for long spoons.

yard sale finds

This was a great discovery.  A set of 4 Pyrex Amish Butterprint nesting “Cinderella” bowls.  At the time I had no idea what pattern they were or anything.  I just thought they were pretty!  I debated because I really didn’t need any more bowls.  The woman selling them wanted $5, so I bought them.  They are by far my favorite bowls!

yard sale treasures

Several of my glass storage containers came from yard sales and thrift stores.  

thrift store findsthrift store treasures

Now, the piece d’resistance, my whip cream dispenser!  I found this, again, by chance at Savers last week.  Savers is a huge thrift store that donates a portion of their sales to charity.   I had seen one of these in a kitchen store a few years ago, but couldn’t justify the cost.  They sell for at least $50 new.  I took a gamble on this, since I couldn’t be sure if it still worked.  But for $3.99 (less my 20% off) I took the risk.  You need NO2 chargers to make the cream whip.  Found those at Bed, Bath and Beyond (10 for $7.50).

thrift store whipped cream dispenser

We tried it out that night and Voila!  Homemade whipped cream in about 30 seconds!!!!!  I can’t wait to try out different flavors.

The real fun now is going with my daughters.   They are learning that they can get cool stuff for very little money and that just because something is old, doesn’t mean it isn’t any good.

Do you go to yard sales and thrift stores?  What is your favorite find?


Making the Switch to Glass Storage

As you might know, as convenient as plastic is, it is harmful to us and the environment.  If you aren’t already convinced of this, take a look here.

Reduce Footprints current challenge is

This week refuse to use plastic wrap (aka cling film, cling wrap, glad wrap, etc). Instead, choose Eco-friendly, safe ways to store food. And, as always, we’d like to hear all about your efforts.
Or …

If you’ve already banned plastic wrap from your life, please review your food storage methods to see if there’s any room for improvement. For example, if you’re reusing plastic containers to store food consider glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers instead (old plastic containers may leach harmful toxins into your food). If you use aluminum foil to cover your food, consider covering food with an inverted plate, a lid from a casserole or pan, etc. And, please tell us about your efforts.

But replacing all the plastic storage items you have collected over the years could be daunting and expensive!  It doesn’t have to be!

I stopped buying plastic wrap a few years ago.  It wasn’t as difficult as I thought.  But as I think back, I took this step several years into my green journey.  I was LOOKING for things to reduce and change.  So, depending on where you are, this may be easy or difficult.

Before I made this step, I made sure to set myself up for success.  I stocked up on plenty of other storage containers (with lids) so I wouldn’t be looking for the plastic wrap.  At first I used my stand-by plastic containers.  Then I slowly converted to glass. I watched for sales and bought 2 sets of  Pyrex glass storage containers with lids (affiliate link).  I still kept foil in the house for those rare occasions.  Foil is expensive!  So I reached for it sparingly.

Inexpensive Glass Options

Reuse glass jars you buy food in!!!! My best discovery.  Total light bulb moment.  Like spaghetti sauce, salsa, pickles, applesauce.  They are free and come in so many shapes and sizes.  I figured I would do this until I stocked up enough on “real” containers from sales or yard sales.  After a while, I didn’t want to give up my free jars!  Why should I?  They worked great and they were “free”.  I learned from my trip to the recycling plant, that glass gets crushed and sits for a long time before it can be reused.  So, to reuse it at my home was a much better option.  I keep them all in the basement.  I save them ALL! At some point or another I am looking for a particular size and there is it.


Where to find cheap glass storage for food

Where Else To Find Them  Yard sales and thrift stores are great places to look.  I found these babies at our thrift store Savers for about $2 each.  Don’t pass them up because the rubber ring is dried out or missing.  You can buy replacement rubber rings at kitchen stores and hardware stores (during canning season) for about $3 for 4.  I even saw them 4 for $1 at The Christmas Tree Shop this past spring.

 Glass storage for food - CHEAP! Mason jars are another inexpensive glass storage option.  A case of pint jars are about $11 – less than $1 a piece.  I use them in the fridge and the freezer.  They come in a wide variety of sizes and are plentiful during spring and summer.  You can find them at hardware stores, Target, Walmart, or online (affiliate).  I saw them sold singly at The Christmas Tree Shops this past spring as well.  Update 7/20/12:  I was at Bed, Bath and Beyond yesterday and they sell cases of mason jars at about the same price as elsewhere, BUT you will use your 20% off coupon to get them even cheaper!



I saw this HUGE beauty of a  pickle jar at the grocery store.  It stands about 14 inches tall.   We like pickles, but not enough to eat almost 2 lbs of them.  I keep thinking of when I would possibly use all those pickles JUST so I can have the jar!  Anyone know any pickle recipes?


So Many Uses

I like to store as much of my food in glass as possible.  So I use these glass options for both cold and pantry storage.  They look so cute too!

In the freezer for stock, soup, homemade baked beans and cooked dried beans are just a few ideas.  Make sure you leave plenty of head room – I usually leave at least an inch to be on the safe side.  Just like the plastic storage, make sure you label them.


how to reuse glass jars
For the pantry, I put all of my dried fruits, homemade granola, various chocolate chips, dried beans….
how to reuse glass storage

Now I certainly have not cast plastic out of my house for good.  I still have plastic baggies for certain uses.  We do have reusable cloth bags that we use a lot, but there are certain things I just can’t seem to get away from.  So there’s my plastic confession.

What is your favorite non-plastic storage?  Do you still have some plastic?



Never Waste Another Drop Of Wine

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Waste?  Really?”  In which case you probably skipped this post altogether!  However, there are occasions when you have leftover wine – now what?

There are those times when I enjoy more than one glass of wine!  But more often than not, I just want one glass but I don’t want to open the whole bottle.  I know I won’t drink or use the rest in cooking before it goes bad.   So, I skip the glass of wine.

I have always heard of people freezing wine in ice cube trays to use later.  Great idea but it never happens.  Plus I’m not even sure we own an ice cube tray!  All of the new refrigerators seem to come with ice makers!  So no wine in the freezer for me until…..

One day I thought, let me just try freezing the wine in a glass jar, as it freezes I’ll take it out and scrape at it to keep it from getting solid.  Just like the chefs on Food Network do when making a granita.  Well, I forgot to take it out and scrape at it.  Wonderful discovery – THE WINE DOESN’T FREEZE SOLID!   

When I have leftover wine, I simply pour it into a glass jar and toss it in the freezer.  

It’s like a snow cone.  Just waiting for you to scoop out and use in whatever recipe you’d like. Stir the wine a bit before you scoop it out as the alcohol may have separated a bit. 

Now I always have a glass jar of red and one of white wine waiting for me in the freezer.  I love the flavor they give to dishes!  I’m not sure how long this will keep, but I had these jars in the freezer for a few months and the flavor was still fantastic. 

By the way, I didn’t use any sort of special glass jar.  This red wine is in an old peanut butter jar.  I’m currently out of white wine, but I use a jelly jar for that.  Just make sure you don’t fill them all the way – leave plenty of head room (about an inch or so).

Have You Ever Tried Freezing Wine?

[Top Photo Uses under Creative Commons license by Mary Witzig/Flickr]

This post was shared at Simple Lives ThursdayFrugally SustainableYour Green ResourceFrugal FridaysSeasonal Celebration Sundays,  Farmer’s Daughter , The Pistachio Project,  Tiny Tip TuesdayMonday Mania and Home is Where The Heart Is.


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