Upcycle Sunday

Upcycle Sunday: storage jars

Ok, last week I said that the upcycled tissue dispenser was the easiest DIY project ever, but I have to revise that statement. THIS is the easiest DIY project ever! As bulk shopping becomes more of a popular choice, there’s a lot of emphasis being placed on reusable jars, and generally these are assumed to be glass. But why buy something new when you already have what you need at home, right? I started buying body lotion in tubs rather than the squeezy bottle things because I like being able scrape out every last drop of lotion! But the jars are actually quite nice, because they’re made of a durable plastic. I would advise against keeping them somewhere with direct sunlight as there is always a slight risk of chemical leeching as plastic degrades. However, other than PET (Type 1 plastics), most other common household plastics have been deemed safe to reuse.

I use these storage jars for everything from shampoo bars, to cotton buds, to nuts and dried fruit, and as stationery pots for pencils and pens.  I also keep one in my car with wet wipes in it. Most of mine are made from body lotion jars as they have a screw-on lid, which makes them really airtight and leak proof, but I’ve also used a coconut oil bucket and a little face cream jar, which I keep paper clips in.  

Step 1: remove all labels from the container. If the labels are paper stickers, it may be easier to remove them after step 2. If the wrapper is plastic, simply run a craft knife or one side of a pair of scissors down the label and peel it off.

Step 2: wash the tub with hot, soapy water or put it in the dishwasher. If you intend to use it for storing food stuffs, make sure there is no perfume left in the container. It doesn’t affect the flavour of the food, but it is a bit disconcerting eating raisins that smell like meadow flowers. If necessary, soak it for a couple of hours, then wash it a second time and leave it open to air out if necessary.

Step 3: use a fine grit sandpaper (150 grit or finer) to gently buff the lid and/or the tub. This preps it for painting and also removes any residue from the labels.


If you are happy with the look of your containers, you can just stop here or skip to step 5! If you want to customise them more, step 4 is a guide for giving the jar a facelift.

Step 4: if you want to decorate your tub, you can paint it with acrylic paint, or if you would like to decoupage or cover it with paper, first cover it with a layer of craft glue or modge podge, let it dry completely, and then apply a second coat to stick things to it.

(I haven’t done this, because I like the look of the black and white jars, but I have decoupaged other plastic items using this method)

Step 5: paint the lid, or an area of the side with blackboard paint. I generally paint the lid because I don’t have a very steady hand and so I don’t trust myself to paint a nice neat rectangle! I currently have dala blackboard paint, which is very affordable and can be bought pretty much anywhere. However, it doesn’t erase fantastically, especially if you leave the label on for a while. If you do have trouble erasing it, I find using a soft cotton cloth and wiping with the grain of the paint helps a lot.


And, done! Easy-peasy!




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