Pause for a second and examine the role drinking glasses play in your life. Perhaps you start your day off with a refreshing cup of water, or maybe you look forward to busting out that Olivia-Pope-sized wine glass at the end of a long workday.
Whatever the experience, it’s fair to assume that drinking glasses play a significant role in our lives.
Their impact, though, isn’t limited to the confines of our home. Glass, as it turns out, offers us a way to enjoy our favorite beverages while keeping the planet in mind.
In fact, glass is 100% recyclable and made from readily available domestic materials (like sand, soda ash, limestone, and “cullet,” the industry term for broken up pieces of recycled glass).
According to the Glass Packaging Institute, glass can be endlessly recycled without sacrificing quality or purity — all within as little as 30 days.
Yet, because of the lack of accessible glass recycling programs throughout the United States, and processing costs, we only really recycle a third of it — with an estimated 37% of container glass actually recycled, compared to 74% in Europe, a 2018 report found.
For those who don’t have access to these programs, there’s another way you can reduce glass waste and conserve natural resources: shopping for recycled glassware.
We’ve put together a quick guide to help you find the perfect (or, as you’ll find out, the imperfect) vessels to compliment your home and lifestyle. We’ll also give you some more information about recycled glassware to help paint a bigger picture.
Why recycled glassware?
Before we go any further, it’s important to understand why we’re opting to purchase these everyday items in the first place.
As the world collectively works toward lowering its carbon emissions, reusing and recycling are becoming commonplace in our economy.
According to the Glass Packaging Institute, using recycled glass to produce new products cuts emissions, reduces the consumption of raw materials, extends the life of glass-making equipment (like furnaces), and saves energy.
However, producing brand new glass winds up consuming more energy and water in the process — making it among the most energy-intensive industries, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Another crucial (and often overlooked) reason why we elect to purchase recycled glassware? The people behind these one-of-a-kind vessels.
Much of the recycled glass you’ll come across here and in marketplaces are handmade and incorporate practices passed down over generations. These glasses not only mean your table or bar have beautiful (eco-conscious) eye candy on them, but it also tells a very human story of artistry, history, and resilience.
What to look for in recycled drinking glasses:
With so many consumers prioritizing sustainability and fair trade, it’s important to know whether or not the drinking glasses you’re investing in are recycled and support businesses that promote sustainability and human rights.
1. Artisan Craftsmanship
A good first step in making any purchase decision is by instinctively asking: Where was this piece made? Who made it? Most of the time, we can find those answers by simply turning to the product’s description or About page.
Transparency — and honoring the craft and humans — behind this practice is and should always be a crucial part of the purchasing process. If a retailer or business does not disclose where or who made it, we suggest continuing your search (we promise there are loads of options)!
Perfectionists, I’m sorry to break it to you, but because of the nature of how recycled glass is made (handblown vs. machine-made), it’s fair, and almost expected, to find subtle irregularities that speak to the handmade nature and unique character of the product.
While one vessel may be a smidge shorter than the other or have small air bubbles throughout, finding those variations provides visible evidence of the individual attention and craftsmanship each product underwent to make it to your hands.
3. Fair Trade or B Corp Certifications
Fair trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, consumers, advocates, and organizations putting people and the planet first.
Being Fair Trade Certified is a rigorous, globally recognized sustainable sourcing certification that encourages the improvement of livelihoods, protects the environment, and builds resilient, transparent supply chains.
Finding Fair Trade-certified (or worker-owned cooperatives) products is always a good sign that your purchases have verifiable benefits to people and this planet — however, there’s nuance to this practice.
As with any system, there are people who find ways to take advantage of vulnerable communities and consumers. So while there have been instances (like the one highlighted in this 2014 University of London report) and valid criticisms of product inaccessibility, overall, Fair Trade is a good option for those who prioritize increased economic, environmental, and social benefits for artisans and labor workers.
Similarly, Certified B Corporations is another certification you can start looking out for while shopping. Unlike other business certifications, it measures a company’s entire social and environmental impact. It consists of leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy.
This certification, too, comes with its own set of critiques, however, they are required to undergo the verification process every three years — which includes third-party audits — in order to recertify. This means that those who are certified are routinely expected and challenged to continuously improve existing practices.
Our favorite recycled drinking glasses:
The brands you see listed here sent members of our team some glassware to review for this article. (Our reviews are always honest. Receiving free products for testing never impacts our writing — and brands don’t get any influence on our editorial process.)
We broke down our reviews based on the packaging, craftsmanship, and special features of these pieces to help you make the best decision for your next glassware purchase.
By the way, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
Hand-Blown Glassware from NOVICA
What’s good: NOVICA has been in the direct artisan-to-consumer business since 1999. Fair Trade and B-Corp certified, this company is headquartered in the U.S. but offers a worldwide platform to artisans who seek to preserve and amplify their cultures. NOVICA features handmade creations from thousands of creators (this site isn’t only limited to recycled glassware).
To date, NOVICA has sent more than $115 million directly to artisans in developing nations and offers small microloans (with 0% interest) to jumpstart small businesses.
We included NOVICA in our list of the best Amazon alternatives.
Details: NOVICA sent me a set of four eight oz. hand-blown recycled glass “Icy Amber” juice glasses. Made in Guatemala by The Cantel Blown Glass Artisans of Guatemala, these glasses are free of lead and toxins and are dishwasher safe (though hand washing is recommended).
Price: $94.99 for a set of 4
- Packaging: This set was thoughtfully packaged and wrapped with kraft filler paper. They included a small handwritten postcard — which I felt was a meaningful reminder of the impact that these items have.
- Craftsmanship: The Cantel Blown Glass Artisans of Guatemala, a cooperative formed in 1976, offers several recycled glassware designs. The set I received was a warm translucent amber color peppered with tiny air bubbles that give it a bit of dimension and texture when you look at them up close. The glasses have a bit of thickness to them which makes them feel a lot more durable than my other (more fragile) glasses.
- Why it’s special: As someone who has ties to Guatemala, I immediately knew the kind of craftsmanship, heart, and intentionality that went into creating these pieces. This collective takes great pride in the work they’ve done to preserve the environment and their culture. These glasses are functional, sustainable, and works of art — a huge plus if you’re limited on space and hope to find something that ticks all those boxes.
Our Place’s Drinking Glasses
What’s good: Known for its cult-favorite best-selling Always Pan, Our Place is an LA-based brand that turns to vetted artisans and factory partners in Thailand, China, and Mexico to manufacture its products. Our Place’s Drinking Glasses are crafted by a team of expert glassblowers and produced by traditional handmade techniques.
Each glass is sustainably made from recycled glass and sand, as well as naturally dyed (so there’s no need to worry about ingesting any yucky chemicals while you drink).
Details: This set of four or eight 12-ounce glasses comes in various colors, including mix and match color options. These versatile handmade glasses are dishwasher safe and stackable (to save on precious shelf space).
Price: $50 for a set of 4
- Packaging: All of Our Place’s products ship plastic-free in custom cardboard boxes, and these glasses were no exception. They were perfectly placed in cutout holes within the box to eliminate the need for any bubble wrap or padding — no clinking or rolling around here!
- Craftsmanship: These drinking glasses are specially designed to be stacked — and they actually do, unlike glasses that technically can be stacked, but actually kind of stick together when you try to grab one. (Just me?) They’re dishwasher safe, fully recyclable (but why would you ever get rid of them?), and the glass feels really durable.
- Why it’s special: As someone who drinks out of the biggest glass possible during the day, I was worried these would feel a bit too small, but they’re the perfect size for an afternoon iced coffee, matcha, or when you want a “special” cup to drink out of. I’m a pretty firm believer that glassware is like half of what makes a drink! I find myself reaching for these over all my other cups, and want them in every color.
Topo Chico Recycled Glasses from Neutrall
What’s good: Neutrall is an Austin-based glassware company that diverts Topo Chico bottles from landfills and upcycles them into elegant cups.
Sturdy, compact, and Montessori-friendly, these glasses are thoughtfully shipped in carbon-neutral packaging, with each purchase even including additional carbon offsets that help guarantee a carbon-neutral purchase.
We discovered Neutrall through Made Trade, a woman-owned, family-run online marketplace that supports small businesses and artisan collectives around the world. Its comprehensive partnership program asks applicants to disclose detailed information around products offered, manufacturing process, labor conditions, Fair Trade status, and more.
Details: Made Trade sent Kamrin a set of six Upcycled Glass Cups. They’re made from recycled Topo Chico bottles and handmade in Texas. This classic set comes in a green or clear finish, and at eight ounces, they’re a great size for a quick sip of juice, or a morning glass of lemon water. These glasses are dishwasher safe.
Price: $48 for a set of 6
- Packaging: Made Trade sent this set of glasses in a small cardboard box with perfectly-sized cutouts for the glasses to sit without the danger of damage or movement. The box even had fun facts about sustainable glassware printed on the side!
- Craftsmanship: These glasses are genuinely one of my new favorite items on my shelves. They are durable and thick, and every time I use them, I’m amazed knowing it was once a Topo Chico bottle. I love the simplicity of the design and the green tint, as well.
These glasses are only able to hold eight ounces, making them small and compact. However, when I fill them to the brim, I have the perfect amount of what I need, and I can easily clean them in the dishwasher and use them all over again.
- Why it’s special: These glasses have become a part of my daily ritual. Whether it’s an afternoon iced chai, or a little splash of lemon water, I’m always excited to pull one from my shelf and enjoy a drink. I don’t drink alcohol, but if I did, these could even be a great cocktail glass, too.
Artisan Upcycled Glassware from Chain Line Supply
What’s good: Chain Line Supply is a small business based in North Carolina, where artist Sarah May creates upcycled art, including glassware. Created in small batches, all Chain Line glasses are made from items like wine bottles or other glasses destined for a landfill. They are made by hand from start to finish — from scraping off old labels, to cutting the glass to create a perfect edge. Sarah’s designs are also transferred onto the final product for a unique design to elevate your home.
Details: Kamrin received a pair of 17-ounce drinking glasses that are both about 5.5 inches tall. Due to the nature of Chain Line’s glasswares being made from preloved bottles, all sizes and shapes are approximate, and the items should only be hand-washed. Small “imperfections” may also be seen on the glasses but do not impact the item’s durability or use.
Price: $48 each
- Packaging: Chain Line’s packaging contains zero plastic and even has a cute stamp on the box reading “please do not throw me in the trash!” Recyclable corrugated paper, craft paper, and cardboard filler were used to individually wrap glasses and protected them perfectly. My box also had a compostable shipping label attached.
- Craftsmanship: These glasses are beautiful. Made with a deep emerald green, they each have a white design, a tiger and a flower respectively, and they make for beautiful art pieces, as well as a durable and large drinkware option.
- Why it’s special: You can see the love that goes into these glasses. Sarah’s artistry makes them such a unique item to use, and they take something that would otherwise be thrown away and turned into practical and stylish home goods. I love that Sarah collects her original glass items from local businesses in her community and now I get to enjoy them in my home.
Other environmentally-friendly drinkware options:
Newly’s Spanish Wine Glasses
What’s good: Newly is a certified B-Corp that makes beautiful home goods from 100% recycled or repurposed materials. As of January 2022, the company has diverted 14 tons of trash through its 100% recycled manufacturing process and has saved 2.73 tons of greenhouse gasses through its recycled glass practices. Not to mention, Newly has also saved three tons of carbon dioxide and 17,000 gallons of water by using 100% recycled packaging.
Details: This set of six stemless seafoam-tint wine glasses are handmade and mouth-blown by Spanish artisans from 100% recycled glass. Its design is clean, simple, and artistic. This product's environmental impact is transparently displayed on the product page (find out more), which is a huge green flag.
Price: $70 for a set of 6
Authentic Mezcal Infusing Set from Uncommon Goods
What’s good: Uncommon Goods is a Certified B-Corp company that supports independent makers from all over the world. Each product in this online marketplace serves a purpose and aims to help solve a problem. They believe in, advocate for, and offer fair, livable wages and paid family leave to their team members.
Since launching its give-back program in 2001, Uncommon Goods has donated more than two million dollars to causes like the American Forests, International Rescue Committee, and The Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Details: We thought we’d throw in a little curveball just in case someone was interested in incorporating recycled glassware into their bar area. This hand-blown mezcal set comes with one amber-tinted pitcher and four tasting glasses and is made in Mexico. It’s great for those who love to infuse tequila or mezcal with fruit or spice to create DIY craft spirits.
Uncommon Goods is another one of our favorite Amazon alternatives.
Price: $98 for a pitcher with cork top and 4 mezcal glasses
Food52’s Hand-Blown Recycled Glassware
What’s good: Food52 is a one-stop shop for foodies! The company has spent a decade cultivating a strong community of people who love food and cooking. What makes it different from similar online communities is that it brings handmade goods (like recycled glass) to the table. From recycled drinking glasses to mugs, Food52 provides sustainable options to a community of passionate individuals looking to tell a story.
Price: $60 for a set of 4 medium wide glasses
Support Small Businesses
While some of these recommendations we’ve put together offer beautifully sustainable options for your home, they are not the only options. In fact, there are so many other small businesses in the market that offer recycled glass — all while also centering artistry and environmental impact into the products they create.
Considering buying small — like those who have Etsy storefronts — is a great option if you’re committed to supporting small businesses. With an overwhelming number of options, you’re sure to find glassware that speaks to your values, supports small businesses, and enhances your kitchen’s aesthetic — win, win, win!
If you don’t have a particular aesthetic or look in mind when purchasing glassware, consider buying or accepting secondhand goods — it saves you money and allows you to participate in the circular economy.
Reuse Salsa, Pasta, or Mason Jars
With social media constantly showcasing the newest products to incorporate into your low-waste lifestyle, (I’m looking at you TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest) it can get a little discouraging when you care about your environmental impact, but money is tight.
The secret that many of these brands and influencers aren’t telling you? The most sustainable thing you can do is to use what you already own. Reuse any salsa, pasta, yogurt, or mason jars already lying around at your place. (There are even a few eco-friendly candle brands whose vessels are meant to be reused as drinking glasses.) Yep, it’s as simple as that!
Make It Yourself
For the crafty folks out there who have a knack for glassblowing or pottery — or simply love a good challenge — creating your very own set of vessels is a great way to elevate both your style and values into everyday pieces. If getting your hands dirty and creating something new excites you, this is your invitation to get started.
You can grab a glass cutter online, too, and turn other glass items into drinkware or vases. Just be careful when using a new tool with sharp edges!
Outfitting your whole kitchen? Explore our guide to the best eco-friendly products for your home!