If you are anything like me, you will have a cupboard full of glasses that you have acquired over the years – from the novelty 30th birthday pint glass to the ones you randomly find in your bag from a night out (maybe that’s just me….). What should you do with them when you need more cupboard space – or simply, just want to change your glassware? Here we will have a look at your options.
Are drinking glasses recyclable?
It is widely known that glass bottles can be easily recycled. They even manage to retain their quality, no matter how many times they have been recycled. Which is great news – but if they end up in landfill, they are almost indestructible. Unfortunately, the same does not apply to unwanted drinking glasses. The glass used to make them is different; tougher and containing different chemicals than glass bottles. It cannot be recycled in the same way. This means that they will end up up in landfill, unless redirected somewhere else.
So, what should I do with unwanted drinking glasses?
Although not recyclable, this does not necessarily condemn them to centuries on the landfill pile – there are lots of other uses.
Spruce them up
Maybe the reason your glassware is unwanted is due to them having that awful cloudy look. If this is the case, then these can sometimes be returned to their former glory. This misty appearance usually happens due to washing them in water with a high mineral – calcium and magnesium – content (‘hard water’). If this is the case, you only need a few household items to get them shiny again.
If you have a few glassware items to de-mist, bathe them in a container with a solution of one-part white vinegar to one part water. After a soak, give them a wipe with a cloth. If you only have a one or two glasses to spruce up, you can rub the glass with straight white vinegar. If you don’t have vinegar, you can try toothpaste too – this also works pretty well.
Pass them on to a new home
If you want to dispose of them, the simplest way is to give them to someone else who wants them; either directly, via websites like Gumtree or to friends/family/workmates, or to charity shops who can find them a new home and boost their funds at the same time. Although donating to a charity shop is better since they will receive some funds, websites are a great way to get them collected directly from your house – great if you have lots, like we did. And during the Covid lockdown, when the local charity shops were shut, it worked wonderfully.
There are lots of ways to reuse your unwanted glasses creatively – whether you are naturally artistic or not, the list is endless.
Painting glasses is a popular option. Pop into your local art shop and have a look to see what variety of paints suits your style best – acrylics and enamels work well for glass painting, but there are different varieties available for each. Be sure to clean the glass first with isopropyl alcohol to ensure any oils/dirty marks are wiped off. White vinegar also works if you don’t have any rubbing alcohol. If you don’t want to paint freehand directly onto the glass, you can sketch your design on a bit paper and then secure it to the inside of the glass and use it as stencil!
After you have produced your masterpiece (!), the type of paint used will determine what to do with it before it can be used – some need to be heat-treated, some may need an additional varnish coating whilst some will need to be left to set in the air for up to 3 weeks. Follow manufacturer’s instructions. From a safety point of view; ensure you don’t paint too close to the rim of the glass (keep the top 2cm, at least, paint-free) – paints can be toxic if accidently ingested. And keep the windows open!
If you are more green-fingered, you may want to use old unwanted glasses in your indoor gardening activities. Succulents have seen an increase in popularity lately and old unwanted glasses can be a great home for them – as long as you remain mindful of how much water you are giving them, no drainage holes in the glass can leave them prone to over-watering. If you are feeling ambitious you can even create a small terranium!
We have only scratched the surface of some of the creative and fun projects you can do with unwanted drinking glasses – you can turn them into candle holders, table centerpieces and even cake stands! Have a look on Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration or just let your imagination run wild.
The bottom line
Although unwanted drinking glasses cannot be recycled, there are still plenty ways they can have their lives extended. Giving them a new home, or a new purpose in your own home, are great ways to keep them out the landfill pile for a bit longer. And you might have some fun at the same time!