Through the (Green) Looking-Glass…

[Image above: Rock 33 Tumbler Collection, taken from]

Each week, you dutifully drag your old wine and beer bottles, pickle and mayo jars out to the curb to be recycled at some processing plant and turned into more wine bottles and pickle jars. It’s an easy way to do your recycling duty and feel like a green consumer, but it is a bit dull. So, what are some other more creative ways that glass is being recycled? You’ll be surprised…and hopefully inspired!

Read more about recycled glass flooring, accessories, fundraisers, and kitschy gifts!

1. One very simple, yet imaginative way glass bottles are getting a new life is by becoming cool drinking glasses! The Green Glass Company takes old Rolling Rock, root beer, and Sol Mexican beer bottles, cuts off the necks, and turns them into attractive cups! They don’t leave anything to waste, however…those severed necks become bud vases or coat hangers.

[Images above: Recycled Glass Tiles from]

2.  How about decorating with recycled glass? Eco Friendly Flooring offers a line of 100% recycled glass tiles for your floors, walls, or general decorating purposes from post-consumer and post-industrial sources. These tiles are elegant, durable, and they come in hundreds of shades and finishes. Re-doing an old dresser or cabinet? Add a special touch with recycled glass drawer pulls! Spectra Decor offers multiple lines of furniture accents made from recycled glass, in styles ranging from mod to whimsical.

[Images above clockwise from top left: Retro Signal Glass Lamps from, Beach Glass Pendant from, Pretty Plates with Purpose from]

3. What’s greener than green? Recycling that promotes a charity! Plates with Purpose are 100% recycled glassware, artistically designed to reflect ‘the missions of vital non-profit organizations’ in the Pittsburgh area and beyond. These stunningly beautiful etched glass plates help raise money for charities such as the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, the National Autism Association, the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, and Alzheimer’s Association. They make the perfect gift for those I’m-not-sure-what-to-get-them situations.

4.  Some types of glass are particularly difficult to recycle. Traffic lights, railroad crossings, crosswalk boxes, and road sign illumination glass all have thicker-than-normal glass, and they are often discarded in landfills or industrial waste sites due to the high cost of recycling. And, as many of these lights are being replaced by higher visibility LEDs, the glass in old traffic signal machinery is piling up. Kudos to Recycled Glass Works for coming up with a green solution – use them as dishes! The thick glass lenses from traffic lights or RR signs is super strong, so breaking isn’t an issue, and they are dishwasher safe. Not to mention they come in vibrant colors what will surly rev up your dinner table. Great Green Goods decided they’d rather reinvent old traffic lights into interior decor – retro style hanging chandeliers!

5. Each year, tons of trash gets carelessly tossed into the ocean. This includes bottles and jars that eventually break into little pieces, get tumbled around by the water and sand, and become beautiful fragments of smoky frosted glass. This beach glass (often called sea glass or mermaid’s tears) is then collected by crafters and jewelry designers to make some amazing accessories! Check out Sea Find Designs for some unique necklaces, or visit By the Sea Jewelry to pick your favorite style and color for a custom-made creation. Beach glass doesn’t just come from the sea – shout out to beach glass designer Relish who collects their gems on the shores of Lake Erie!

Do you have any great recycled glass ideas? I’d love to hear them!


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  1. Avatar
    Rachel 02/24/2009 at 3:18 pm #

    OMG, I totally want to tile my bathroom with recycled glass! Thanks for the great ideas Molly!

  2. Avatar
    Lydia 02/25/2009 at 1:08 pm #

    Don’t forget about Pittsburgh’s Fresh Heirlooms (, in Lawrenceville. It’s run by a young woman with help from her family. She does the recycled glasses too, as well as a bunch of other cool stuff with reclaimed materials.

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