October’s Dustbin Demon

Filed in Blog by on October 9, 2008 21 Comments
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jam in a glass jar with a plastic sealThis month’s dustbin demon is something Mr Green and I have fallen prey to on several occasions.

Before we started our zero waste challenge we used to buy honey in a squeezable plastic pot. Oh the convenience! No more sticky fingers, honey on the worktop or honey that was too solid or too runny.

Of course, looking back I realise that a twentieth of what you buy stays in the pot unless you cut it all open to get those last drops of sticky loveliness, but who bothers to do that?

Once we began our challenge it was glass pots for us. We didn’t put many out for recycling, we ended up keeping them and the other week I used them to make chutney. I’m a reformed woman!

In addition, we found that we could buy LOCAL honey in glass jars, so it’s great that we can support our local economy.

Trouble is, a lot of these glass jars, including ones for jam come with their own dustbin demon and landfill trouble maker. They come with a plastic seal around the edge of the lid.

Why oh why do they need one of these? I’ve asked this question to myself in previous posts during our zero waste week. Once upon a time, the fact that you couldn’t press the lid top down meant the seal was safe and intact and hadn’t been tampered with.

Now it seems we need a collar of approval to prove it.

These pesky additions to the landfill don’t seem much, but that is what our dustbin demon section is all about. It’s those little items, that we think nothing of, that end up being thrown away. Too small to recycle, or completely non-recyclable, they just become an item of unnecessary waste.

Yes, we have found some pots of honey without the seals, but it’s not always easy to get something locally like this.

I’m sure some of you creative people could incorporate these seals into a home made card or something. But for me, with my lack of artistic sinews, these just end up thrown in the bin unless I’m lucky enough to find glass jars without seals.

Maybe it’s time to enter the spirit of jam making and bee keeping……….

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (21)

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  1. Kris says:

    I agree they are a pain, not very pretty or enticing as an art material at all, and just plain redundant in terms of jar sealing.

  2. I’m planning to have a go at jam making next year, we’re trying pickling this year.

    I agree though, that those plastic strip seals are redundant and need not be there in the first place. Shall we start a campaign to remove them?

  3. maisie says:

    I totally agree, this could be one of those items which can easily be removed and left at the checkout as it would affect the safety in getting the product home.

  4. Over-packaging came on the heels of fear of tempering, just one more societal paranoid reaction. Then, of course came the do it better than thou marketing ubermanship..
    Now, whether we use these items for art or not, they do eventually end up in the great refuse beyond.

    My contribution is to promote locally available products, like leaving flyers with the directions to the Amish farms or town stalls which sell honey and other farm produce. The more people know about natural goodness, the healthier we all will be.

  5. Naomi says:

    Oh go for it! Do the bee raising! And then tell us all about it! Only don’t use smoke on the poor creatures.

    Next best thing is to find a neighbor who’s raising bees and help them use their excess! I used to have a neighbor who put out a small stack of jars of honey next to a wooden cash box. On my walks, I’d make sure to have the proper cash on hand and a small backpack for the jar.

  6. Oooh Mrs G. What a fabulous Dustbin Demon. I detest those damn seals. However the good news is there are now an increasing number of jars without the seals, which makes you wonder why the some manufacturers still use them.

    The other great news I saw today in Waitrose was a sign to say that they are gradually removing the ring pulls inside juice carton lids….Hooray for progress 😀 x

  7. Di Hickman says:

    Urgh I swear packaging is going insane! You know what I found out today? I bought some raspberry tea the other week, in a cardboard box (which has celophane wrapping as they all do now). But inside that box each of the 40 tea bags is individually wrapped…. in plastic/celophane. WHY! I remember having PAPER wrappers and the tea being fine! Why do we need shiny protection suddenly.
    Bet you’re butt I am emailing the manufacturer!

  8. We made 2 small jars of pickled beetroot today.

  9. esther says:

    the beekeeping is not a bad idea…you know in Paris, they are telleing offices, to use their rooftops or inside courts, ti put beehives, and some groups even helps you to buy them? Bees are disappearing, and we need bees to stay alive, and have plants and stuff…And, the funny thing is,n that the bees inside of the citys, priduce better honey, since the countryside farmers use so much pesticides, that the honey is full of them. In the city however, te bees go to the balconys etc etc, and people in citys don’t use pesticides! incredible, hum?

  10. jen cleanbin says:

    Definitely local is the way to go with jars if you want to avoid the plastic seal. We’ve found our local honey to be vastly more expensive than in the store, but also very tasty and well worth it as the farmers market is only 4 blocks from our house.

    As for the plastic squeeze bottle (risking horrible chemicals that plastic probably leaches) we’ve been filling up our old honey squeeze bottle with the new honey from the glass jars we now buy.

  11. Kris says:

    We have a friend who beekeeps (and bee-wrangles rogue swarms!) but sadly his production rate only covers his family for honey.

    At Cheltenham FM, I had a look at the honey stall and you’ll be pleased to note they seal their honey with a paper strip passed from lid to side of jar, so that’s someone quite local (I forgot to look where they are based) who isn’t overpackaging.

  12. Mrs Green says:

    Maisie, I think leaving at the checkout, may well be the next step. As other’s agree, they are an excessive piece of plastic that is not needed.

    Nadine, Kris and Jen, I’m right behind you with supporting the local economy. There are ranges of jams to be bought from farmers markets and village hall table sales. Usually they have been made with a glut of home grown fruit, so taste 100% better anyway. Kris, I have seen the type of honey you describe; there is a seller in Maisemore and one in St Briavels that sell like this 🙂

    Mrs A – that’s good news on the ring pulls inside of tetrapaks; another unnecessary ‘belts and braces’ example of 21st century paranoia.

    Di, we too are on the look out for tea that is not foil / plastic wrapped. So far we have had an empty cupboard for a month. No problem there as none of us drink tea, but I like to have it in for guests (I guess it shows how many friends we have visiting LOL!)

    Sarah – congrats on the pickled beetroot. Sounds yummy!

    Esther and Naomi – I really don’t think I will ever keep bees; I’m a bit scared of getting stung – what a wuss I know!

  13. sally says:

    oops forgot to post my recipe up for hedgerow jelly before so here goes:
    3lbs of fruit (any mix of raspberries/blackberries/damsons/blackcurrents etc)
    put in a pan with juice and pips of 2 large lemons, add a little water to cover fruit, simmer gently for 1 hour with lid on.Mash fruit up and pour into a jelly bag suspended over a non metalic bowl and leave overnight to strain.
    Measure the juice and for every pint of liquid add 1lb preserving sugar. Heat the mixture in a pan over alow heat until sugar has disolved then boil rapidly without stirring for 10-15mins. If you have a thermometer the mix should be 105 c, if not take the pan off the heat and put a teaspoon of mixture onto a very cold plate, if after a few mins the mixture wrinkles when you push it its done , if not put the pan back on the heat again.
    Pour into warm steralized jars and seal.

  14. dottyspots says:

    Jam-making and pickling is great, although I’ve never been able to make enough to last us throughout the year (alot of jam on toast and scoens is eaten here).

    I have some rosehips and I’m planning on picking some more either today or tomorrow to make some rosehip jelly. I already have blackberry jelly and some pickles, but I missed out on the strawberry jam making today.

    We use surplus jam jar lids to mix paint in and jam jars to make jam jar lanterns.

    Jam jar lids can also be pierced and strung up to use as bird-scarers in your garden or on the allotment (CDs can be used in a similar way).

    It’s also worth offering surplus jam jars and lids on freecyle.

  15. Mrs Green says:

    Sally, thank you for the recipe, it sounds lovely. So homely and feel good! I’ve got some blackcurrants in the freezer, can you make jam with fruit that has been frozen?

    Dottyspots, it sounds like you have a busty couple of days planned. We’re never short on ideas for jars and lids here, either! Although I’ve never strung them up as bird scarers.

  16. Sally says:

    Frozen fruit is fine. I am just about to make some raspberry jelly frozen fruit

  17. Mrs Green says:

    Great! thanks for that Sally. I plan on a freezer inventory next week, so I’ll see what I can use up 🙂

  18. Shannon says:

    Like many people reading this site, I also don’t throw anything out and I’m writing a blog about it. I have found honey is easy to get at my local farmer’s market and they will take their jars back to use again. My honey source doesn’t use the plastic ring, they just use old-fashioned canning tops.

    Check out my blog at http://www.ilivewithit.blogspot.com .

  19. Mrs Green says:

    Glad to see you have found a solution to the jars and seals, Shannon. It’s great to support the local economy too.

  20. Alyson says:

    Its not just jam and honey that have these seals(I haven’t seen any for a while, by the way) it’s Sainsbury’s basic peanut butter. I get it because it’s the only peanut butter I can find that doesn’t have a plastic lid, but it’s got that seal. Like the idea of the paper strip. It’s on jars of marmite, plastic lid, though, shame.

  21. Mrs Green says:

    @Alyson: Thanks for the heads up Alyson; we don’t buy peanut butter so I wasn’t aware of this. I saw a plastic seal on mayonnaise the other day too

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