The original recycling…
It used to be, that companies wanted your business. They would entice you to buy their products by giving you something to re-use, or give away a prize inside. Resources weren’t wasted and frugality was a way of life. Companies weren’t propped up by subsidies, so their bottom line was important. It was economical for the business and the consumer to have universal, interchangeable sizes on items like jar lids. Goods like flour came in pretty calico print sacks, and items like coffee, shortening, pickles, canned luncheon meat, and jams came in re-usable containers. In some cases, actual canning jars where used, and at the very least the jar mouth would accommodate regular and wide mouth canning lids. The jars were also good enough quality to use for canning after the original contents were consumed.
Nowadays, you’re lucky if a lid will fit a canning jar. I buy coconut oil, and mayonnaise in glass jars. The lids are regular mouth and I do save them for dry storage, or for when we open a jar of pickles or jam that will be in the fridge for awhile. The jars I recycle, are too thin to can with safely, and I have enough chipped canning jars for dry storage. I think it is just silly to manufacture something in the first place that is destined to be thrown away. The energy required to grind the glass and re-melt it again is embarrassing. If the quality was there, the container could be reused over and over again.
L – R: Hormel meat jar, decorative pickle jar, Depression ware drinking glass that originally held marmalade, decorative pickle jar w/pumpkin pickles, decorative pickle/meat jar, and a Crisco jar. As you can see, I use these for canning.
Most jars accommodated a regular mouth, because it was considered wasteful to use the wide mouth. Until recently, Kraft sold marshmallow creme ( weird stuff) in a jar with a wide mouth and a metal lid. This lid would fit the canning jars. I loved them for my 1/2 gallon jars I use for milk. Now they have recently retooled that design and sell the product with a plastic lid. Not long ago a friend gave me a number of these lids that she have saved for me. (I have no idea what she does with all that marshmallow creme, but I didn’t ask.) At first glance, they look like wide mouth plastic lids. But they are about 1/16″ too small. They will fit nothing but the jar they came on. So now these too, are destined for the recycle bin.
You don’t see that many wide mouth antique canning jars either. It was considered wasteful to spend more for wide mouth jars and lids, when the less expensive narrow mouth would do. I participated in Food Preservation in 4-H, and you were marked down if you used the wrong type of jar for the product. Wide mouth jars were for things that were difficult to pack by hand. Things that could be easily poured or packed were supposed to be in narrow mouth jars.
I do love those wide mouth jars though, I freeze my butter, and lard in those wonderful wide mouth jars, and I use wide mouth jars for my milk. But, the bulk of my canning jars are regular mouth. It feels good to fill up these jars each year, and it feels good to empty them, and lovingly put them away for their next use.
The landfills are getting full. Even Seattle’s garbage is trucked to the desert in Central Oregon. It takes a fair amount of energy to manufacture and transport the jars in the first place. In my dream world, we could go back to responsible manufacturing methods of durable goods. I’m afraid it won’t be in my lifetime