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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: How to Revamp Empty Candle Containers

Fall wouldn’t be the same without its trademark colors, scents and flavors. One sniff of cinnamon pumpkin spice and your olfactory will concoct visions of autumn nostalgia. Many of us–myself included–celebrate fall by accenting life with its scent. Whether it’s cinnamon, pumpkin, maple, apple or another scent, I’m sure we’ve all left Bath & Bodyworks or Yankee Candle with an armful of candles at some point. But even in the midst of such a joyous and fun season, everyone should be mindful of how their merriments affect the environment. ‘Tis the season to be green and to reduce, reuse and recycle — candle containers! 


OK, so this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be festive. Rather, you may want to reconsider buying 20 candles at once. Candle packaging and containers aren’t exactly compostable, so consider avoiding the candles or candle sets covered in plastic or gift wrapped. Plastics and other materials are unnecessary for candles and ultimately unnecessary for the environment. Just by avoiding excessive wrapping, you can reduce your candle-footprint. Buying locally sourced candles can also reduce environmental impacts caused by manufacturing, shipping/transportation and packaging. Plus, local and small business candle-makers often create candles in containers that can be reused. So, bring the jar back to the creator and they’ll refill it. In Gainesville specifically, Little Oak Candle co. makes soy candles that are lead-free, dye free, phthalate free, paraffin free in glass containers that can be brought back to the shop to be refilled.


Not only can you reuse the candle container for a new candle, but you can also refurbish candle containers for other uses. To revamp candle jars you must clean them. First, place the jars in the freezer. I would recommend freezing them overnight so the wax hardens but it won’t freeze. In the morning, remove the containers from the freezer and grab a dull knife. Then start peeling the wax from the jar, which should be easier and done in chunks because the wax is more solid. Give it a quick rinse with soap and water to completely cleanse the candle container of any wax. Once it’s clean, you’ll be left with a like-new container to be anything your heart desires. Catch-alls or organizers, you can put your candle containers to use in the kitchen, the office, the bathroom or anywhere else in the house. They’re great as office supply organizers, make-up brush holders or snack containers. Candle containers are visually appealing enough to also be used as décor. Put bath salts, crystals or plants in the leftover jars for a chic home accent.


Most candles come in glass or aluminum packaging, which are both recyclable. Aluminum is an eco-friendlier man-made material, but the same can’t be said for glass. Glass is one of the longest-lasting man-made materials taking almost one million years for a single bottle to decompose. Though glass itself isn’t extremely damaging to the environment, when glass shatters it can harm animal, plant and human life. And, glass-making is more harmful than glass’s after-life. Producing glass uses large amounts of energy and releases CO2, as well as other exhaust gases, to the environment. Aluminum manufacturing also requires immense energy levels and mining operations, which can all be harmful to animal, plant and human life. Ultimately, at the way and rate mankind produce materials it is unlikely that you’ll purchase something with no environmental impact. So, when you buy a candle try to remember what will happen after you use it. Make sure to recycle the materials from your cinnamon cupcake candle or upcycle what’s left.

Revamping your old candle containers is one way to indulge in the season without the guilt. Unlike your great aunt’s holiday casserole, though, don’t just throw away your leftovers.

Hey! I'm Veronica, a journalism senior at the University of Florida. I'm usually up till dawn either out with friends or working on a deadline. I love writing, music, yoga, rocks, social justice and animal rights. My favorite color is pink and my favorite vinyl at the moment is "I Love You, Honeybear," by Father John Misty. If you need me, you can probably catch me on the vegan cheese aisle at your local grocery store.
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