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18 ways to upcycle old jars

If you are like us and eat a lot of lemon curd and peanut butter you have a spare jar, or several hundred, in your home. I keep all mine in the little alley way alongside our kitchen, accessible only by our back garden, a place we try to pretend doesn’t exist. It’s covered with a tarpaulin and houses our Projects. I also, bizarrely, buy extra jars from car boot sales, but just if they are especially pretty or vintage – yep, my huthband doth dethpair.

You see, you can NEVER have enough jars. They provide endless opportunities for giving thrifty but appealing gifts, for beautiful, craftilicious decoration and of course, simple and lovely storage. And for Christmas jars come into their own. Un fact, Christmas was MADE for jars. (Love and family and hope, they get a little look in too.) Despite there being already one million ways to up cycle a jar, I am still not sure the human race has even reached the full realms of what is possible.

But to get us started, here are 18 of the best…

Gift ideas

Use chalk board paint and sweets inside With a bit of tile grout and some ordinary acrylic paint you can whip up small, colourful batches of chalkboard paint. It slicks straight onto any surface, including jars, meaning you can fill a jar with sweets and label it with a cool message.

Put a figure on top and homemade finger paints inside Once you have glued a figure on top of a jar, and painted it, there is no turning back. It looks so wicked. In this instance I filled the jars up with matching homemade finger paints, and gave it as a gift to a toddler.
Decorate the lid and put a home made body scrub inside
Just a bit of cool paper and a decoupage technique (homemade mod podge) can transform a rubbish old jar. I filled mine with the easiest homemade body scrub ever.

Layer cake ingredients inside and give with instructions to make No, you  cynics, this isn’t a lazy way of giving some baking, it’s CUTE, all right? I like it.

Put together a tiny sewing kit and make the lid a pin cushion. A lovely friend gave me a sewing kit in a jar once and I just loved it. Such a gorgeous gift to receive.

Photo credit and How To from must-read Momtastic

Fill with reshaped old crayons Melting and reshaping old crayons makes a gorgeous gift for children. Putting them in a handy jar so you can see the shapes and colours against the side make it that bit more special.

Decoration Ideas

Use paper on the outside to create a beautiful tea light Cutting shapes into pages from a book and popping it around a jar to create a candle holder has to be the most simple decoration ever… oh wait, but look:

Decoupage leaf candle holder  Maybe that honour goes to the sticking of leaves to the outside of a jar to make a candle holder. So lush, and can be seasonal, in whatever season. A bit of nature in your home.

Photo credit and beautiful How to found at From Panka With Love

Glow in the dark jars You can get glow-in-the-dark paint from most craft shops, and it is put to stunning use here. How perfect for a child’s room.

A beautiful jar chandelier This is an upcycle that needs a bit more dedication, and possibly an electrician. But, if you are looking for a light feature THIS IS IT!

Christmas Ideas

Christmas snow globes A jar, a bit of glitter, some objects and some glue. Amazing. I am definitely going to craft up some of these with Ramona, I am going to keep my eyes peeled at car boot sales for especially kitcsh Christmas decorations I could feature in them.

Photo credit and stunning How To from Elisa McLaughlin Designs

Christmas in a jar Love this, giving someone everything they need to fill their home with the Christmas pong, I mean, SPIRIT. You could really adapt this idea, with what you can find that smells awesomely Christmassy.

Edible Ideas

A jar of DIY peppermint hot chocolate I love the idea of giving someone a little treat they can give themselves when the time arises. A ready to go drink would be something my husband would love.

Rainbow Cake in a jar All the glories of a classic 1980’s rainbow cake with the added gimmick of eating it out of a jar. Immense.

Photo credit and How to at the brilliant Run with Glitter blog

Berry crumble in a jar If someone was to serve me a pie in a jar I think I’d be their BFF.

You kind of get the idea here, I guess… bake things, but in jars.

Storage Ideas

Glue lids to underside of shelf, screw jars on to itThis is an ace idea, possible with just a glue gun, a shelf an some jars. Really ideal if you don’t have much surface space.

Photo Credit and How To from Good Housekeeping

Use a hot glue to spell out the contents of the jar and paint over  Another simple idea, but SO effective. I need this so that when I finally reach my one life’s ambition of having a cleaner they’ll know where to pop my tiny trinkets…

Tadah! They are my faves. What are the best ways you have seen to reuse a jar?

PS See beautiful pictures of all the above ideas on my Upcycle your Jars Pinterest board. (Crumbs, you know you have made it when you have a Pinterest board about Jars…)

Binalytics – what I dump and how to sort it

I love a bin. Never been afraid of a good rummage. When I was about ten I found a Los Angeles Raiders baseball cap in a bin on my way to school – I put it promptly on my head and walked in to my class feeling quite the lucky thing (they were THE LICK in my corner of south London circa 1992), until it’s origin was revealed with glee by the boy who saw me swipe it from the bin from his seat on the bus!

And you were wondering why a cute wee thing like me got bullied, eh?

Anyway, I have been having a rummage in my own bins this week in honour of  National Zero Waste Week. Because seriously, it is pretty pants that we, a try-hard-green-home, still manage to chuck out a bin bag of rubbish a week. Particularly considering the valient effort of the family who chucked out one bag in a year. 

The analysis:

Our living space and bedroom bins are basically mostly filled with things that could be recycled. Shocking, eh? It is because they really only get stuff put in them when I am having a mad dash attempt at tidying up and my surge of passion for a tidy room (about as often as a lunar eclipse) blots out all other emotions and I fear that if I bother to sort out the papery things from the other things I will never end up actually doing it. Does that make sense?

Our kitchen bin is almost entirely plastic packaging that can’t be recycled. Because we have our recycling and composting containters in the kitchen it is rare to find a recyclable in the main bin. However, there is a whole load of packaging. Things like the wrapper from the Soreen Malt Loaf (mmmmm Soreen Malt Loaf) and emergency veggie packaging when we have run out of veggies from our Riverford box.

Our bathroom situ is a DREAM. A wonderful old housemate created two bathroom bins –  a massive recycling bin and a small rubbish bin and her legacy means we only chuck a tiny bit of rubbish from the bathroom.

The solution:

Clearly for our living space and bedroom I need a SYSTEM! So that being good doesn’t interfere with getting the tidying done. As of this afternoon, downstairs we now have a recyclables bin and a normal bin and in the bedroom I have done a little divider in our normal bin (I say normal but actually it is FABULOUS with it’s midwestern fabric, courtesy of my sister).

Ramona too loves a bin, mainly because it involves Making a Mess, her special favourite hobby along with Eating Grim Things and Playing with Dangerous Objects.

I also need to do something about the food packaging. I think Infinty Foods may be the answer – buying all our things like pasta, lentils and chickpeas in bulk. But first we need to finish the kitchen and create a larder as we have some pesky and obnoxious mice stalking us at the moment. Someone hold me to this though! I have just done an Ethical Superstore order for all our cleaning products and shampoo etc- getting these in 5L bottles is a winner I think. Neither of these do Soreen Malt Loaf in bulk though- missing a trick, people. Missing. A. Trick.

So, hey, why not have a rummage in your dumpage too? There are blinking LOADS of ideas on this website if you want to get cracking on sorting it out.And then once you have looked in yours, you can look in some of the ones on the street- you might be fortunate enough to score a highly desirable fashion item from the nineties.

Happy Zero Waste week!