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A Desperate Plea for Everyone I Know to Stop Hoarding Old Jars

In this edition of Actually, we explore the phenomenon of people who feel the need to save and drink out of crusty spaghetti sauce jars.
mason jars
Photo via Flickr user Susy Morris

Welcome to Actually, a safe space for us to share our deeply-held but likely-unpopular opinions about food and drinks.

As much as we all enjoy drinking a beverage from a friend's recently cleaned jar of jam—the dried raspberry pectin still stuck to the rim's ridges, which uncomfortably scrape your lips as you take a swig—the reality is that people save too many damn jars. They need to let some of them go.


How a jar became a ubiquitous drinking apparatus is beyond me. It probably occurred at a party many eons ago, when all the glasses and mugs were in use or dirty, and one partygoer, too lazy to clean one, found a dusty jar high in the cupboard, filled it with whiskey, and re-joined his or her friends. The music was cut with one of those record-scratch noises, and was replaced with gasps as people came to understand their ingenuity.

Soon everyone threw their glasses in the nearest fireplace and stampeded to the kitchen, where they scoured for any alternative beverage holders: Windex bottles, hot sauce containers, vases, Pog tubes—whatever wasn't convenient.

Jars of jam in the refrigerator saw their innards heartlessly dumped in the garbage and substituted with cheap alcohol. One jam, unwilling to be degraded in such a manner, rocked itself until it fell from the top shelf and shattered on the floor. We speak your name, Smuckers.

And so an awful revolution was born, and I now have to pretend at parties and hipster bars that I'm satisfied with this deformity masking itself as a suitable place to put my beverage. It's not. There’s a reason that they come with lids.


Photo via Flickr user Laura Taylor

But of course jars aren't only saved for drinking—they're often saved for canning, too. Except few people I know manage to can anything. What are you going to can? Beets? Nail clippings? All those moments you wish you could have over? There's a desperation and unrealized promise lying beneath the seemingly innocuous practice of saving jars. It's an attempt to regain control in a chaotic world, and yet every jar that remains unfilled is a broken dream.


Understand, I mean no cruelty. It's simply that I know so many who feel the need to save jars when they're the ones who need saving, unable to see through the fog of the frosty glass cylinders which encompass them. There's no shame in placing an empty jam jar in a recycling bin. You know what happens? It gets taken to a glass treatment plant, where it's melted and then molded into a brand new form, likely a jar. When you kidnap a jar from this cycle, you're preventing nature from taking its course, and probably costing jobs.

If you must save things, allow me to introduce you to the concept of drawers. There's nothing a jar can do that a drawer can't handle. Need a place for loose change? Drawers. Don't know where to put those batteries? Drawers. Want to pickle some peppers in a white vinegar brine? Drawers. In fact, you might as well do all three in the same one, and there's nothing wrong with saving drawers, because otherwise there'd be an awkward gap in your counter.

I'm also not saying we should throw everything out. It's worth keeping stuff like the cardboard rolls at the heart of aluminum foil (back-scratching), those plastic thingies on the end of bread (for fiddling with), and if I may be bold: glasses.

Have you ever sipped from a glass? It's a truly wonderful experience.

The grip is ergonomic and comfortable, and the rim smooth and rounded, as if it were designed for your lips, and not the twisted sharp metal of a lid. Every time I'm handed a jar containing a beverage I throw it in the nearest fireplace, or against the wall, if a fireplace isn't handy.

Only when we free ourselves of saving jars can we truly advance as a species. But reading an article is not enough. I want you to grab that empty jar on your shelf right now. Go ahead. Now walk over to the recycle bin and release your grip. It's OK to cry, I'm here for you. You need to let it go.

Because if you can't drop that jar, there's no turning back. This is the first day of the rest of your life. That empty jar will beget hundreds more, until your existence is more jar than human, with all your days spent thinking of what to fill them with, and all your nights regretting having never done so.

Good, I'm proud of you. Now let's toast the moment with a drink.

What the hell did you just hand me? Goddammit.