I walked into my kitchen today to see a display of odd jars full of random expired perishables on the kitchen counter. Apparently they are all from ghosts of roommates past. My roommate had cleaned out the fridge. To a lot of people the work and whiffs of unpleasant odours would be enough to make tossing these jars the go-to option. But all I could think when I saw them was "JARS!!!" :) :) :)
I was planning to go to the store to buy some matching mason jars because aesthetically I thought a matching kitchen would be nice. But the non-materialist, zero-waste part of me kicked in full force when I saw the task before me. I got to washing and cleaning about a dozen jars which consisted of old olives, almost finished mustard, weird cocktail sauces, and a slew of other mystery items.
As I was cleaning out the jars I had a little epiphany; isn't this what true recycling is.
When you throw a glass jar (or any glass container) into the recycling bin what happens to it, where does it go?
Although glass is one of the few materials that can be infinitely recycled without losing it's strength, it still takes a lot of energy to "recycle" it. Once you throw it out, it has to be picked up by a truck to be taken to the glass treatment plant, sorted and washed, crushed and melted, moulded into new products such as bottles and jars, picked up, then finally, sent back out into the world (by truck). I admit, it's a zillion times better than plastic. It still takes up a lot of energy though.
"Recycling" a jar is pretty much the same as making a new jar. Being zero waste has shifted my perspective on what recycling means to me now.
My definition of recycling: taking an object and using it again without using energy to convert it into anything other than what it is.
I even think my new unmatched kitchen looks better than what I had previously envisioned. I like how natural and uncontrived it feels. I've also started to appreciate the different shapes of the jars and have picked a few favourites for skin care products that I'm going to make.
I'm sure if you ask people you know, at least a few of them have unwanted jars in the back of their fridge. Offer to clean them out and in return you get to add some funky mismatched jars to your own kitchen.