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Low Waste: Up-cycled Jars

One of the values that influence how we live our lives is to be gentle on the planet. One way we do this is to reduce the amount of waste we produce and consume. Sadly, recycling just isn't enough, it is way down the list on the waste hierarchy. We need to avoid using plastic at the point of purchase. Remember - we vote with our dollar for what we want more of.

For 5 years or so (I lose track) we have shopped at 'bulk food shops' (or more commonly in our house - scoopy places). In Perth we frequented 'The Source' in Floreat fairly often and made friends with the lovely Bonnie, we also visited Kakulas sisters which also had a few store fronts. Nothing quite compares to the delicious smell of Kakulas!

In Tassie we are pretty spoiled for choice. Our closest bulk food shop is Billy Hill Organics in Franklin, and a bit further away Unpacked in Kingston and a little further than that is Eumarrah wholefoods in Hobart. We mix it up where we shop based on what we need (they all sell slightly different stuff), and how far we want to travel (convenience and fuel). I'm aware from the outside going to 'these kinds of shops' can seem a bit confusing or strange compared to standard supermarkets (looking at you Woolworths and Coles). But trust me, once you learn how it works it's pretty easy.

Jars that have been upcycled

Bulk food shopping is very instagramable, with beautiful matching jars, lovely labels, and accessories to go with it. Although, as we know, Instagram is often not a true representation of reality (is it ever?) and there is a lot of greenwashing that goes on (appearance of eco-friendly but under the surface it's not!).

But today I'm here to tell you how I like to upcycle jars (instead of buying empty jars for their prettiness), and my less than healthy addiction to Masterfoods Tartare sauce. I like to reduce ‘noise’ in the kitchen, such as brands, loud colours and mismatched things. Spraying the lids of my jars with paint was an easy way to achieve this uniformity.

My jar collection has been YEARS in the making. My mum (Hi Pauline!) used to ask her friends to save Moccona coffee jars for me, as she too used them for bulk food. And yes, when we moved from Perth to Tassie I did ship my jar collection! But more recently, in the last 2 years we have made decisions on what things we buy often that come in jars that we could use for a specific purposes.

I give you passata!

pasata jar repurposed

Pasata bottles are super handy, and quite elegant. We store our home made almond milk in the fridge in pasata bottles, and a few pantry items (apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar and tamari) that we decant into smaller bottles (of the maple syrup variety) for every day use.

What is vegan cooking without spices? I’d say bland! No one wants to be fooled into thinking vegan food is bland. Tartare sauce jars became the clear choice for our spice jars, due to their size, shape and degree in which we consume the stuff. We probably have enough jars by now to stop buying tartare sauce… maybe that’ll be my next DIY project!


You will need:

  • Jars

  • Painters tape

  • Black satin spray paint

  • Orange oil

  • Paper towel or rag

  • Label maker or

  • Permanent marker

Things you will need

Jars to be upcycled - the tall one is for laundry liquid.

Step 1 - Remove labels by soaking jars in warm soapy water. Some labels peel off better than others (mayvers peanut butter jars for example). For the super sticky glue I find this Orange oil works well. So keep rubbing until all the glue is gone. Sometimes a spoon can be used to scrape the label off - just be careful. Rinse and dry well. Orange oil also takes off permanent marker from glass and some jar lids - this is super handy to know.

sticky labels can be annoying, but orange oil helps!

Step 2 - If your jars have spices already in them, make sure you label them like this so you don’t get confused later (You can paint the lids first, or remove the labels first, it doesn't make much difference).

you don't want to get your spices mixed up now...

Step 3 - Using painters tape, tape the inner rim of the lids (this gives them height off the surface you are painting from).

Tea is also an essential ingredient in the process

Step 4 - On a calm (not windy) dry weather day, lay lids on a sheet of cardboard tape side down. Shake can of spray paint for recommended time. Spray the lids in a light sweeping motion until all lids are coated. Allow 24 hours to dry completely. You may need to do 2 coats, if reaching the other side of the lids was hard for you. Avoid moving the lids until they are dry.

ready for painting in our shed/garage

See how the reverse side of lids missed out on paint?

Black all the way to the edge of the tape

Step 5 - Print labels on label maker and attach to the lid and side of the glass jar. To save on tape (as often there is an inch of wastage at the start) you can write multiple labels at once, leaving 6 ‘space bars’ between them. You can also adjust the printing settings on label length. Note down the font and size you used for next time (like in google docs) - you don’t want to realise after your labels are different.

Label time

Step 6 - enjoy your pretty stylish jars!

much better

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