#EndlessCycle: How to get the most out of glass around your home?
How a mother brings glass into her family life
Wherever you are, chances are that you come into contact with glass on a daily basis. From getting ready for the day with the help from your favourite skincare product, preparing a healthy meal for friends and family, to winding down at night with some after-work drinks. Glass is healthy, versatile, and better yet, sustainable: it’s the only packaging material which is infinitely recyclable, as well as being reusable and refillable. So what can we do with all this packaging once we’re done to ensure we’re treating it right?
We all know about why it’s important to take glass to the recycling point, but have you ever thought about all the different ways that a glass bottle can be reused around your home? Whether it’s for storing food, washing or cleaning, glass offers endless possibilities to give your home a glow up. To learn more about how to make the most out of glass in your home, we sat down with one long-time friend of glass, mother and storyteller, Raffaella Caso of Baby Green.
Raffaella was your average ‘high-impact’ Milanese – little time, a lot of work, too much consumption and little satisfaction – before the arrival of a daughter changed her perspective, and led her to look for a simpler life. She learned to spend less and better, to choose ecological products and zero-mileage products, to eat organic, to avoid disposable items and to walk more. She created Baby Green as an online space for eco-friendly families who want to make the right choice for their children, for the environment and for the future of the planet. Raffaella prides herself on being ‘almost’ green – believing that instead of striving for perfection, we should all be on a path to better, greener living.
Here, she tells us how her love of glass began, shares all her tricks for getting glass into your family’s everyday life, and even lets us know how to make a thoughtful, eco-friendly gift that your friends and family will love.
Hi Raffaella, how long have you been a friend of glass?
I have always loved glass from an aesthetic point of view, even going back to my childhood. I grew up in France, and I have fond memories of Saturday mornings spent with family, when I would take a glass jar to the local market in the village to be refilled at the olive stall. I think that was when I first fell in love with glass. As I grew up and started to take an interest in greener living, I started to discover its endless possibilities to make my life better in small ways. Not only is it infinitely reusable and recyclable, but made up of just three natural ingredients, it’s also inert, healthy and hygienic. That definitely sealed the deal as I became a first-time mother to my daughter, Carlotta, and I’ve been a friend of glass ever since.
Where is glass most useful to you?
Without a doubt, I use glass most in the kitchen. I use glass jars, containers and bottles for all sorts, particularly when it comes to storing both dry and fresh ingredients. I use a lot of large glass jars to store ingredients I buy in bulk; everything from flour, to rice, cereals and pulses, to dried fruit and seeds. The beauty of glass, combined with the many colours and shapes of the food, makes for a beautiful ambience in any kitchen and makes me feel right at home.
Raffaella is full of ideas on how to use glass around the house (source: https://www.instagram.com/raffaella_babygreen)
Can you give us some examples of where glass fits into your life?
The first thing that comes to mind is meal prep, where I take some time every weekend to prepare the basics for the whole week. Generally on Sundays I’ll spend a couple of hours cooking pulses, vegetables and other dishes for the next few days. I organise and divide everything into jars and glass containers. Then I transfer one part to the fridge and another part to the freezer. There are no problems with freezing glass, the only thing you need to be careful of is not to fill the container right up to the edge. Don’t forget – frozen foods and liquids tend to expand!
But that’s not all. Glass is also a great help when it comes to avoiding food waste, because it allows you to store all leftover food in jars, properly sealed with air-tight lids. The food stays good for a few days and the transparency of glass allows you to immediately identify what it contains (unlike many coloured plastic containers).
Outside the kitchen, what other situations do you use glass?
As well as recycling, my family also likes to reuse glass for storage and DIY projects around the house. For example, I use old jars in the bathroom for solid cosmetics, which I buy in bulk and store in small glass jars. Or in the laundry room where I always have at least four glass jars on the go: one for baking soda, another for bicarbonate of soda, the third is for citric acid and the fourth for laundry detergent. I usually buy my detergent in tablets, powder or solid strips… All formats which fit very well in a glass jar, and add some extra sparkle to my routine!
In recent years, with a daughter who loves to create, build, draw and paint, glass jars have also become a creative work tool for afternoons spent exploring our artistic side together. Here, glass comes in very useful both as an object on which to paint, and as a container for brushes, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, and various leftovers that become essentials for recycling and creativity.
Can you give us an original idea for reusing glass containers?
Since glass is a gift from nature, I like the idea that it can also be turned into a gift for friends and family. A really simple and low-cost gift idea is a hot chocolate mix. Who doesn’t like chocolate?! It’s simple, easy and comes from the heart. Whoever you give it to, when they make themselves a comforting hot chocolate, they’ll think of you!
What a great idea! How do you make it?
In a blender, start by finely chopping 90 grams of dark chocolate (preferably Fair Trade). Be careful not to get the chocolate too hot, otherwise it might melt. Then, pour it into a bowl and add 70 grams of cacao powder, 100 grams of brown sugar, 15 grams of potato starch and, if you’re feeling festive, 2 teaspoons of powdered cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of powdered ginger. Mix all the ingredients together and put them in a nice glass jar with an air-tight lid. To finish, it might be nice to add a ribbon.
You can accompany the gift with instructions on how to make the hot chocolate:
“For one cup of hot chocolate, pour 3 tablespoons of the hot chocolate mixture into a pan and add 150 ml of milk (whichever type takes your fancy). Stir it well to avoid forming lumps. Simmer whilst continuously stirring. Turn off the heat once the chocolate has thickened. Enjoy!”
We’ll be sure to try it! Thanks for joining us, Raffaella!
Raffaella Caso has focused her professional career on the culture of sustainable development: working for several years at the Touring Club Italiano as coordinator of the sustainability and certification programmes, as consultant and author in the field of tourism science, and founding GreenStep as a study and research company in responsible tourism. In 2010 she opened her website www.babygreen.it, as the online guide for (almost) green families. The website is now a reference point for eco-friendly families in Italy, and is responsible for digital communication of several companies in the green sector. You can find Raffaella online on her Facebook or Instagram, or at the organic market with cotton shopping bags in hand!