For a long time plastic litter has been a scourge on the environment but manufacturers are showing no signs of using less plastic packaging. A plastic bottle takes an average of 450 years to biodegrade, and before that time it disintegrates into thousands of little pieces that are impossible to clean up. Our seas and beaches are filled with plastic, including an island in the pacific (“the great pacific garbage patch”) about the size of Texas and made up of plastic waste. Plastic waste is disastrous for marine wildlife, which gets caught up in it and can’t avoid ingesting the plastic shards, or sometimes mistake it for food and die of starvation. I find it very difficult to cut out buying plastic packaging completely (I’m making it a future goal of mine – props to those who live waste free. It is possible!) but it’s still important for me to reduce disposable plastic use where I can. That’s where these spice jars come in handy. I’ve collected glass jars over a couple of months, and instead of buying wholefoods and spices in plastic packages, I fill up my containers in my local packaging free wholefoods shop. Check if you have a shop like this near you – the food is usually significantly cheaper because there’s no cost involved in pre-packaging it!
Plus, I like to have an extensive spice collection on hand for when James and I make fancy curries. It’s nice to see them all labelled and organised, instead of spilling over from half open packages in my cupboard. I’m using a wipeable chalkboard pen so when I want to use my jar for something else, I just wipe of the label and write something else.
This DIY is one of those that doesn’t take very long but I had been putting off for ages. Specifically, I was struggling to wash the sticky labels off the jars that I had collected. Even after a couple of goes scrubbing them with a scourer and washing up liquid, the glue would just slide around the glass. Luckily, I’m in this facebook group called “foraging in and around Edinburgh” and someone conducted a little experiment to test out different methods of removing the glue. Citrus based essential oil, BBQ lighting fluid ad acetone nail polish were deemed to be the most successful but I chose to try an oil and bicarbonate of soda mix instead as I wanted to reduce my use of chemicals. Honestly, it works like magic, and I’m so pleased it uses ingredients I usually have in the house!
You will need:
Bicarbonate of soda (about 100g)
Olive oil (enough to make the mixture spreadable)
Step 2: Remove the glue. Mix together the oil and bicarbonate of soda until it forms a paste. Lay down some newspaper under your jars and smooth the paste over any of the gluey areas. Leave overnight and in the morning all the glue should come off with a scourer and very little elbow grease. Make sure to wash off the oil before letting your jars dry.
Step 3: Paint rectangle sized labels on all jars with the chalkboard paint. Don’t worry if the first layer is a bit patchy and bumpy. Paint a second layer once the first is dry and this should cover it up.
Step 4: Fill up your jars and write on your labels!
Be warned that the chalkboard paint is not waterproof. You should wipe of the chalkboard pen lightly with a cloth a tiny drop of water. To wash out the jar, try to fill up the inside without soaking the exterior.
I’d love to hear if you use a system like this to store your spices and wholefoods. I love the aesthetics of using glass jars and it makes it easier to do my shopping. I just take my empty labelled jars to the New Leaf when they’re empty – no shopping list needed!