Zero Waste Ways To Label Your Glass Jars

Reusable Nation - zero waste DIY glass jar labels

Keeping food in clear, unlabelled glass jars can get confusing and it is important to know the expiry date of some produce. So, how can you label your jars in a way that keeps them zero waste and reusable?

One of my pet hates is Instagram posts of bulk produce and cleaning products in bottles that have been labelled with plastic tape. Yes, they look seriously cool (always in the top posts of #zerowaste!). But, they’re definitely not the best option if you’re trying to be plastic free and waste free.

The best ways of labelling your beloved jars involve not creating something new, but using what you already have and using something removable so you can use the jar for something else next time.

These are the four best ideas I’ve come across so far (I came up with the fourth one while writing this article!):

1. Reused cardboard and elastic bands

This is what we do with most of my jars. We learnt this neat trick from The Rogue Ginger. Start storing your empty toilet rolls (or any cardboard or thick paper) and keep the rubber bands that come around your vegetables as together these will be used to make a jar label that is both made from reused materials and can be moved onto different jars as needed.

Simply cut the toilet roll into rectangles and make or punch a hole at one end. Write the name of what is inside and any other information you want to add like date bought so you know how long it’s been sitting in your cupboard.

Then slip an elastic band through the hole and and then through itself to secure it to the piece of cardboard. This rubber band can then be stretched around the top of the jar.

Label done!

Another option is to simply slip a scrap piece of paper or cardboard with the name of the goods on it under a rubber band that is placed around the bottle.

2. Permanent marker

An even easier option is to just write straight on the glass jar with a permanent marker if you have one at home you still need to use.

Permanent marker doesn’t actually permanently mark most glass jars. It stays on for a while, but it comes off after a few washes in the dishwasher. We know this because we have to keep rewriting their weight on them before we go bulk food shopping!

And if you want to get it off, simply write over the top of the lettering with another Sharpie marker and immediately wipe off the writing with a rag while the ink is wet.

3. Wax (grease) pencil or glass marking pencil

When your permanent marker runs out, replace it with a chalk pencil, wax (grease) pencil or a glass marking pencil! You might even have one of these in your sewing kit. These genius devices let you write on glass jars and then wipe it off when you no longer want it on there.

And because they’re pencils, their shavings are compostable!

Glass marking pencils and wax pencils come in loads of colours, but I find a black one the most useful. You’ll find them in arts and crafts stores or online. Here are a few examples for you to see what they look like:

Grease pencils are moisture-resistant, so it won’t come off in the fridge or freezer, and is easily rubbed off with your fingers or a towel. To remove writing on a glass jar written with chalk pencils and glass marking pencils, rub it gently with a damp cloth.

[On a side note, did you know you can get highlighter pencils! Plastic free highlighters! Nothing to do with this article, I just found them and am excited.]

4. Embroidered (or written on) scrap fabric and elastic bands

This one makes me want to learn how to embroider! Remember those jam jars that came with pieces of fabric draped over the lid that were secured in place using a rubber band?

You can embroider the name of whatever’s in the jar on the piece of fabric! It'll look super quaint!

Or if you have a fabric pen or paint or even just a permanent marker, you could just write or paint it on the fabric (way easier but less impressive). You could even stitch on a little light-coloured bit where you could write the best by date on with a fabric marking pencil so it can be changed accordingly. Oh the possibilities!

This can easily be moved from jar to jar and is a great way to use up fabric scraps.

Can someone teach me how to embroider?!


How do you label your jars?


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