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can we come up with 20 alternatives to recycling glass?  RSS feed

 
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For some reason my brain is stuck in this space.  I need help to get enough bits and bobs on this list so I can go on doing other things. 


#1 reuse jars for nails and screws in the shop, or for spices and foods in the kitchen

I suppose there is a long list of household uses.  Maybe we should start a whole new thread just on such an amazing and thorough list.  There might be stuff on the list that people have not thought of. 


#2 beer bottles and rootbeer bottles to home brewers for reuse


#3 The Good Food Store, in Missoula, takes certain jars with lids which they will sterilize for folks to use for bulk foods

Do other stores do this?  Maybe we should start a thread to list all the stores that do this.


#4 convert glass into safe gravel

Here is a place in missoula that does this.

Maybe this is something done in other places too?  Maybe we should put together a new thread to create a big list?

Jocelyn told me about a guy she once knew that would run broken glass through a rock polisher and get material like this.  I'm not sure what it would be useful for - other than wherever you might want to use gravel.  Anybody have thoughts in this space? 


#5 working bottles and jars into cob structures to let light in

https://permies.com/t/11155/dirt-glass-bottle-walls




#6 make drinking glasses from bottles

https://permies.com/t/33018/Cool-repurpose-glass-bottles




#7 broken glass remelted into glass tiles

At the rocket mass heater jamboree last year, some of the students worked on building something that would do this.  The idea was to have a ceramic tray that would sit in the heat riser where temps might exceed 2000 degrees F.  You put broken glass in the tray before starting the fire.  When the fire is out and cooled down, you can retrieve the tray.  It will probably have some ash and soot - but it would be a new glass tile or brick ready for reuse - and it would have taken zero energy.

At the appropriate technology course last year there was interest in building something using a fresnel lens and some high temp insulation and the same tray.  But it was never tried.  Maybe this year. 

Last year I suggested that we could make tiles that could be used for a glass roof:

    https://permies.com/t/40/1072/glass-bottles-jars-roofing#475400


#8 free shelf / free shed

Decades ago I saw a "glass exchange shed" in Eugene, Oregon.  A large shed that was just full of canning jars.  Apparently, anybody can drop off and anybody can pick up.  



bad idea:  bury it

Anything buried will eventually be dug up.  That sounds like a recipe for somebody to get cut




What else?






 
 
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Melting it seems interesting. I love that clear plastic with water method. If you havent seen it, its cool. Make an elevated roof out of clear plastic. Add some water, the water becomes domed on the bottom, focusing the suns rays. I think it always focuses the same spot regardless of where the sun is.

Not buying glass (make and can your own pasta sauce or beer vs buying it) seems to be the big goal. Or transitioning the factories to glass that interchanges with mason jar lids.

Making art from junk doesnt seem to work. Maybe you keep it out of the heap for a generation and you hope that in that generation some better technology has come around to do something better with it. All it does is buy time.
 
wayne fajkus
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If run through a rock polisher it could be the aggregate for aquariums and aquaponics. The fines from this could be filter material,  like pool sand filters.
 
wayne fajkus
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Sand blasting medium
 
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They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so this is going to be worth about a million by the time I get done. This is a subject near and dear to my heart! There are just too many ways to use bottles and jars to show all of them, but I will post a few good ones I've managed to collect. Mostly, they cover lighting, planters and vases, pavement and edging, decoration and useful storage, but there may be a few oddballs mixed in. Enjoy!

 


 



 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 


Okay, I'll stop! It's hard though because there are quite literally millions of ideas out there for ways to use re-bottles--no one should EVER send one to a landfill!!!
 
wayne fajkus
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I have to eat my own words deb. Those pics are beautiful
 
Deb Stephens
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wayne fajkus wrote:I have to eat my own words deb. Those pics are beautiful



I thought so too--some very clever people out there!
 
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Kind of #4, but I have broken bottles and then mixed it into concrete and then poured my concrete counter tops with it.

Not really a use per se, but polishing glass in built is easy with a cement mixer. You can polish it in various mediums like sand, gravel, softer beads, really whatever you are after for a final look. I use my cement mixer for just about everything else but mixing up concrete.
 
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My brother glazed his homemade ceramic tiles with crushed glass. He crushed it with a mortar and pestle.

I've used broken glass as aggregate in concrete.
 
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I've dug up glass I myself cast into concrete. The concrete was poorly done.
I don't recommend this.

It would be great if you could power a tumbler with water wind or solar.

I would love translucent glass blocks,dirty would be fine.
To me this would be the best kind of use, preserving the translucent  quality of the containers, while turning them into building materials.



The best way to turn them into "bricks" might be a tile saw. Cut off the neck, you are pretty much there.
Cut off the bottoms, they become interlocking.
Like this but tighter together:


I want to cut off the bottoms with a tile saw and slide them onto wire/rebar/conduit/willow poles like beads,with each neck going into the  bottom of the bottle above it.
Jam them into the ground on one end, tie them together at the top,bond beam style,or corral the whole bunch with rope,twine,wire,etc.
Layer them up two or three course deep and use them as the south wall of a solar structure.
Or layer them as horizontal logs.
Perhaps this configuration could work as a form of drain pipe, maybe a downspout.



Maybe wire could be used to create a "mat" of bottle beads:



With a building block like that, a lot could be done.


A bunch of random ideas,just throwing them out there.


Greenpowerscience is a YouTube channel that has done some nice work with solar smelting of glass and other ways to reycyle glass.

 
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Travis Johnson wrote:Kind of #4, but I have broken bottles and then mixed it into concrete and then poured my concrete counter tops with it.

Not really a use per se, but polishing glass in built is easy with a cement mixer. You can polish it in various mediums like sand, gravel, softer beads, really whatever you are after for a final look. I use my cement mixer for just about everything else but mixing up concrete.



Sounds interesting but I don't understand the details. Could you please flesh the description out a bit? (We've got glass waste and a cement mixer, and lots of "natural building" projects going on from time to time)
 
pioneer
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You can use a tumbler on brocken pieces and then make jewelry:




Or use them as decor or for vases:




Or made into countertops:




Or use on tumbled glass walkways:



 
Nathanael Szobody
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The countertop is the sweetest thing ever, but wow that's a lot of epoxy...

Funny story: while I was writing this my daughter dropped a glass on our concrete floor.
 
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I've heard of making very rat-resistant concrete with cement and broken glass.
 
Deb Stephens
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:The countertop is the sweetest thing ever, but wow that's a lot of epoxy...


Not epoxy, just white cement finished with a trowel to bring the glass to the surface, and then washed with a sponge to clear the cement off the surface. At least that is how all the countertops I've seen using glass are done.
 
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Glass jars are the best for storing seed in the garden shed because the rats and mice can't chew through the container like they do with plastic.

Then there is using old bottles as insulation in a concrete sub floor. It's an old technique but it seems to work well.
 
Deb Stephens
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Building with bottles is not only possible, but can be quite beautiful. I have always been amazed by this recycled glass temple. 
You can read about it and see more photos here ...  https://www.buddhistdoor.net/news/buddhist-temples-made-from-recycled-glass-bottles AND here ... https://inhabitat.com/temple-of-a-million-bottles/
 
Deb Stephens
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I'm convinced that with the trillions of glass bottles (well, plastic too, but that's another thread) going to landfills every day, encouraging building with bottles is the best way to do real and lasting recycling. I love the decorative items and will always do those too, but to save the planet, I think we have to reuse on a massive scale. To give you some ideas ...This website has a fantastic collection of videos and photos of various bottle walls and buildings around the world. https://insteading.com/blog/glass-bottle-walls/   ;


And for a couple useful how-tos on the actual building methods ...

#1 shows how to incorporate a bottle wall in a tire-walled structure.



This is a neat AirBnB dwelling in the desert built by an artist using bottles and tons (literally) of other salvaged and recycled materials. Pay close attention to his method for making bottle bricks that allows both sides of a relatively thin wall to show bottle ends rather than tops (starting at 2:12 in the video) and again later (around 3:28) when he discusses the problems of expansion and contraction of concrete mortar around the bottles--with potential for breakage. Some of the materials are not very environmental, but his methods are interesting. I'm thinking cob might be a better, more forgiving mortar, but I could be wrong. Anyone else have ideas on that score?


 
Deb Stephens
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I found a simpler and less toxic method of joining the bottle ends to make bricks. This guy uses duct tape but I have also seen a version where aluminum flashing was wrapped around the bottles and that was tapped rather than the glass--making a sleeve that holds the bottles in place. I know that the person who did it intended the flashing to help reflect more light into the house, but I am wondering if having the bottles merely resting within the sleeve like that could help prevent breakage during expansion and contraction by having that tiniest little space between the bottle and the mortar?

 
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Actually you can use glass in concrete. I think it might be the only way for a large scale recycle-operation. I personally don't have any experience on the subject but read couple of articles during my grad study. Obviously anything larger than  3 to 4 mm is not good, there are studies to use it a substitute for fine sand in concrete mixture. Frankly I don't know how it can be used in home scale. Glass dust is the worst to breath. Extreme caution here.
I can't recall where I read it, but as I remember, glass-sand concrete is not recommended for finishing layer.

Here is one link on the subject; you can download the article and check details. The conclusion part is encouraging.
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283439859_Concrete_with_Recycled_Glass_as_Fine_Aggregates
 
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I don't have a photo, but I've used empty bottles as candle holders for taper candles.  It usually requires slightly sharpening the bottom end of the candle (like you would a pencil) to get it narrow enough to jam into the bottle opening.  I suppose you could use any old bottle, but I'm partial to green wine bottles, either full of half size.

For us, though, the biggest issue isn't alternatives to recycling glass per se, but alternatives to recycling broken glass.  Using glass necessarily results in broken glass.  And it's a little difficult to merely reuse a broken empty beer bottle.
 
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#4.   In my town there is a bar for every church... (and there are A LOT of churches!). A few years ago I was dead set on figuring out a way to repurpose all those beer bottles that normally get sent to the landfill.

After much research, I decided that glass mulch could be a great solution!

Unfortunately, I found that using a cement mixer to polish broken glass is EXTREMELY LOUD And takes hours to do correctly.   I’m pretty sure my neighbors were plotting an assassination attempt on me....   Sadly to say, my small scale recycling/repurposing dreams were crushed (pun intended).

Seems to be viable on a larger scale operation, however.  I found that Dare County in North Carolina recycles glass into landscaping pebbles for use by residents. The glass pebbles are produced by a glass crusher purchased with grant funds to reduce costs of shipping bottles out of the county. The pebbles are safe ton walk on and are used to decorate gardens or create pathways.
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I make my own tintures, so I collect all the blue bottles I can find to keep them in. Edgar Cayce said the color blue is very healing.
There is a certain brand mineral water that comes in blue bottles.  And a vodka and a kefir.
The blue beer bottles don't have reusable lids unfortunately.
Im on the way out to collect roses to put in vodka for tincture this morning.
 
Anne Miller
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Rock tumblers made specifically for tumbling rocks are not that expensive.  A person could probably make enough money selling tumbled glass to buy a better one.

https://www.amazon.com/National-Geographic-Starter-Rock-Tumbler/dp/B01I56RV0C/ref=


 
Deb Stephens
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Brian Moyers wrote:#4.   In my town there is a bar for every church... (and there are A LOT of churches!). A few years ago I was dead set on figuring out a way to repurpose all those beer bottles that normally get sent to the landfill.

After much research, I decided that glass mulch could be a great solution!

Unfortunately, I found that using a cement mixer to polish broken glass is EXTREMELY LOUD And takes hours to do correctly.   I’m pretty sure my neighbors were plotting an assassination attempt on me....   Sadly to say, my small scale recycling/repurposing dreams were crushed (pun intended).




Here's just the thing you need, Brian. Nowhere near as noisy as a metal cement mixer (all that rubber helps dampen the sound). I saw this years ago and I am finally going to get around to building it this year. (Fingers crossed!)

 
paul wheaton
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tumbling glass with a concrete mixer

 
Deb Stephens
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paul wheaton wrote:tumbling glass with a concrete mixer



Looks like that would be a quick way to get utility-grade glass for walks and decorative landscaping, and the cover definitely helps with the noise level. (A surprising amount actually.) My only negative comment on this particular video though is that cleaning the jars and removing lids, extraneous parts, etc. BEFORE tumbling would go a long way toward making the final processing smoother and faster. It's a lot easier to soak off labels and remove lids than to pick out tiny bits of either from a pan of crushed glass--polished or otherwise!
 
Anne Miller
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Adding sand and water makes a lot of sense when using a cement mixer. 

I am not sure that he could morally call that sea glass.

If I lived near the beach I might rig up a cage and put glass in it so that it would really be sea glass.  It sells for big money if it has the right colors.
 
paul wheaton
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melting glass

 
paul wheaton
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a different style of glass melting



 
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My Dad was an antique bottle collector, finding most of them on the bottoms of lakes where he went scuba diving. He loved to tinker (I got that gene) and made glasses from the chipped or broken bottles. I think he used a wet saw and sanded the lip. I've used a dremmel to cut glass and then smooth it.
I break everything. I probably chuck two or three glass things into the recycle every week. Glasses, pitchers, plates...I broke 3 pitchers in one day last month. Yes.
But I wash out bottles and jars and save them, using them to store tea bags, cotton balls and q-tips (cute in the bathroom), sweet tea (now that all my pitchers are broken), sewing stuff, nothing original. My Dad had the jar lids nailed to an overhead floor joist in the basement and kept screws, nails, you name it in the jars. You could see what was in there and just screw the jar back on. Neat and tidy.
I'm not even going to try it.

 
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Deb Stephens wrote:They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so this is going to be worth about a million by the time I get done. This is a subject near and dear to my heart! There are just too many ways to use bottles and jars to show all of them, but I will post a few good ones I've managed to collect. Mostly, they cover lighting, planters and vases, pavement and edging, decoration and useful storage, but there may be a few oddballs mixed in. Enjoy!





Epic images, Deb! Wow. Lots of beauty there. The one for the bottle fence is one of my favorites. Later in this thread, https://permies.com/t/33018/Cool-repurpose-glass-bottles, is that bottle fence image and a video on how to make it, too.

This thread, https://permies.com/t/10332/permaculture-upcycling/ungarbage/creations-upcycled-glass-bottles, links to 13 creations with glass bottles, some of which I think were already mentioned here.

And this thread, https://permies.com/t/11155/dirt-glass-bottle-walls, has loads more pictures of glass bottle walls.

I realize I didn't add to the list of alternatives to recycling, though I thought those threads were worth a mention.



 
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The best large-scale use I can think of for glass, is as an admixture in clay bricks. Glass gives them a durable surface, makes bricks less absorbent and it works as a flux in the vitrification process, so that the bricks can be fired at a lower temperature. So this not only can use up vast quantities of glass, it can also save fuel in the manufacturing process.
 
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This is a great thread!  The idea of reusing a commonplace item in so many ways shows the possibilities of how we can turn refuse into art.  I just love this type of thinking. 

Is there the possibility of using glass bottles to store veggies or other food in?  You'd need to get some new corks, but at very least I can see storing grains in them with little trouble.  The darker bottles would make better storage containers than the new bottles.  The only downside to this, is there is no inside liquid to keep the cork hydrated.  This is an issue for wines that are kept decades, so I am not sure that it would matter for bottles keeping pantry stores.

A useful method for cutting bottles is the String/Fire/IceWater method.  You use a thin piece of string, and tie it tightly around the bottle where you want the cut to happen.  Then you douse the string in the flammable liquid, remembering to dry off the bottle around the string.  Light the string, and let the fire get good and hot.  Quench the area around the string in waiting vat of ice water, and the bottle should break right along the line where your string was tied.  Here's a video that details how simple and quick it is. 


Everybody talking about bottle bricks makes me a tad bit sad.  If only companies were a bit more forward thinking, we could be living in a different world.  The proof of this is Heineken.  They came up with a rectangular bottle, where the cap inset into the base of an adjoining bottle.  These were designed so that brick walls were easily created from the refuse.  Only about 100,000 of these bottles were made.  It's a shame, because with all of the beer drinkers in the world, we could have made some wonderful beer bottle greenhouses and homes for people.  The downside was the bottles were more expensive to create.  This would be the type of thing that I wished the government would subsidize (just like healthy food).  Here's a video that shows a bit about the heineken bottle


An interesting thing that I haven't seen suggested, is using the bottles as terrariums, or even as closed plant systems. You'd most likely want to use a clear bottle, but it is claimed that this guy has had this "garden" growing inside of his large sealed bottle for over 40 years ..... and they claim to have only watered it twice. 


In addition to sealed terrariums, one can also do completely aquatic ecosystems.  This gentleman calls his "Ecospheres", and they seem to flourish. 


Lastly, there's the ability to create a fishbowl inside of these bottles.  If designed correctly, you do not need a filter or any circulation inside your new aquarium. 
 
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paul wheaton wrote:melting glass



This is awesome , I've been wanting to do something different and this is inspiring. 

I'm a lampworker and work with borosilicaate glass.  While I've melted a few beer bottles in the torch in my time , I never thought of charging a crucible with them.
 
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Almost forgot , here's a few chandeliers and lights my friend Seth makes out of wine bottles.
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William Wallace
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Jeff Berning wrote:Almost forgot , here's a few chandeliers and lights my friend Seth makes out of wine bottles.



Wow, those are beautiful.  The first looks like some majestic sea creature!
 
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Does anyone know if you can blow bottle glass? I have blown lab glass, never tried with bottle glass.

And I took a class on making fused glass, where we used specific sheets of art glass, cut and arranged it, put it in a mold that then went into a kiln and melted together. Wonder if bottle glass would do that well? I know the temp of the kiln had to be right for the glass type, but that may have been to keep the glass art consistent. I made sun catchers!

Function stacking! Can we make a biochar pit that's flaming hot enough to be a kiln to melt glass? :) Or a RMH?
We used to melt wine bottles in campfires, and get some neat results. Can't take too high of a temperature to do this.
 
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Deb Stephens wrote:I found a simpler and less toxic method of joining the bottle ends to make bricks. This guy uses duct tape but I have also seen a version where aluminum flashing was wrapped around the bottles and that was tapped rather than the glass--making a sleeve that holds the bottles in place. I know that the person who did it intended the flashing to help reflect more light into the house, but I am wondering if having the bottles merely resting within the sleeve like that could help prevent breakage during expansion and contraction by having that tiniest little space between the bottle and the mortar?



My concern with that is that aluminum is energy-intensive to manufacture and process. Purpose-made flashing would defeat the eco-friendly purpose. But if it was possible to recycle aluminum cans for this, then you would be accomplishing two goals at the same time.
 
My honeysuckle is blooming this year! Now to fertilize this tiny ad:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
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