What on earth is with the jars?
It’s a bunch of extra clutter and a bunch of extra work and it makes my husband mad. So why?
Well... for starters, I do it for my dad.
He’s a character for sure. He can be a grump but he’s got a heart of gold. (Sort of like my husband, actually. I guess he set a high standard. As a young man he was a Boy Scout and an Eagle Scout and he really took it to heart to leave a place better than you found it. We (his daughters) spent our childhood stopping to pick up hats from the side of the road and carrying trash that wasn’t ours back to trash cans. And- this is a big one- recycling. At one of the biggest family reunions ever hosted at our house, no one recycled correctly and my dad spent a long time, into the wee morning hours, dumping the trash cans and sorting everything into trash, recycle, and compost. He even picked through a soup to pull out the meat so the veggie matter could go in the compost. We made a little fun of him, but It Made an Impact. (Dad. Seriously. When you read this, make some doctors appointments and take care of yourself. We love you and need you healthy, ok?)
So he’s my why for being earth conscious and reusing if I can, and recycling if I can’t. (And making sure I recycle and don’t wishcycle). The way I see it, every time I reuse a jar or bottle, I am keeping it out of the waste stream, and I’m reducing the amount of new material that needs to be processed into a product.
My reuse operation was pretty small- just reusing my own jars and saving commercial kombucha bottles- until I noticed my great grandmother in law was using a lot of jam jars, all the same brand and size. (The woman just loves her jam and bread- and at that age, with over 20 great grandchildren- she has more than earned it so whenever I think of it, I take her some. Since my love language is feeding people, I hope she knows it carries my love with it). And they are super pretty hexagonal with a black lid I really like them! They are my favorite jars! (I have strong feelings about jars, maybe too strong; I might not be ok)
*they are H‑E‑B brand jars and they are great grandma’s favorite!
So I asked if I could have them to store various things (mostly simple syrup and jam) and then I realized I could totally see who else had some jars I could use. Friends. Neighbors. Random strangers. (No, really. I belong to my local Buy Nothing and I’ve requested jars from the community at large.)
I have them stored everywhere. In my laundry room
In the dining room cabinets
Often on the kitchen counter while waiting to be de-labeled.
I now have a whole procedure. I water soak and that gets many labels off (I like those best- they are easily reusable) or peel the label off if it’s a plastic label that’s easily peeled then I let them dry and use Goo Gone to remove any other labels or sticky stuff at that point, they get a good scrub and a wash in the dishwasher to sterilize- in that way I feel confident about using them no matter where they came from or where they have been.
I use them for hand scrub (around 4 oz), jam (around 16 oz), and for kombucha (bottles of all sizes) and vinegar (I make kombucha vinegar and pineapple vinegar at home. Sometimes it’s intentional. Sometime life gets chaotic and my fermented beverages over-ferment and get way too acidic to drink as is so then it’s vinegar because there’s no use wasting a good batch of vinegar just because it’s not kombucha or Tepache. Once the pH is acidic enough to be vinegar, if I boil it the microbes are inactivated and I have a great base for interesting pickles)
I’ve gotten more picky as more jars have come my way. Printed ones tend to lead to confusion. If it had garlic or something pungent, it will hold the smell forever. So those get recycled. But the rest get a second chance at life- and some many more chances because I use them for lots of stuff at home, or people bring them back to me (Along with new jars *yay*)
I would love to see brands standardize jars to make reuse easier even if the lid is damaged. And use easy to remove or water soluble adhesive to cut down on the amount of chemicals needed to recover the jars. And I would love to see everyone find more ways to repurpose. In the meantime, I’m doing my part at home and I’m putting my philosophy in play with my products. I use reusable glass jars for jam and hand scrub and offer incentives for returning them for reuse. And hopefully there will be more ways to reduce my footprint as time goes on. (I currently use plastic bags for dried stuff because other options are cost prohibitive but anyone who does repeat business and returns jars? I’ll make it happen or go bulk with jars or fill reusable bags.).
How can you change what you do to be more responsible with your resources?