Transforming the Future, One Jar At A Time

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Tompkins Weekly 12-15-2014

By Kat McCarthy

What if we lived in a world where single use products didn’t exist? What if the norm was to eat from real dishes that we washed when we were done eating? Eateries would once again be stocked with a plethora of plates, forks, knives, and spoons – and of course, dish washers. To-go mugs would be a staple, and for those rare occasions where dishes weren’t provided, you would have your trusty mess kit to use.

Maybe my visioning is grandiose. And maybe some might say this alternative view of the world is just a bit too optimistic. I, however, prefer to dream big. Think of the impact it would make if everyone brought a reusable mug with them the next time they went to the coffee shop. How many cups could we save from the landfill?

By the numbers, Americans discard 25 billion Styrofoam coffee cups every year and 2.5 million plastic beverage bottles by the hour (Environment Action Association). Single-use products are made from valuable resources: through production, the 16 billion paper coffee cups used per year require over 6.5 million trees, 4 billion gallons of water, and enough energy used to power nearly 54,000 homes for a year (The Nature Conservancy). Styrofoam and paper coffee cups are difficult to recycle, which means that they are most often put in the trash. All that energy and time to create a cup that is used for a few hours.

Reusing your own mug over and over therefore reduces your daily reliance on disposables while keeping materials out of the landfill. And if you are using a glass or metal container, it can be recycled at the end of life. As another benefit, many coffee shops offer discounts to individuals who bring their own mug.

One solution to help challenge the concept of a throw-away culture is EcoJarz. This young company with a strong local presence offers companion products to promote upcycling and reuse of jars. The company’s drink-top will fit any standard mouth canning jar – whether it’s an empty mayonnaise, salsa, or spaghetti sauce jar – and turn it into a glass to-go drink container. Made from high-quality stainless-steel or FDA silicone, the products offer a healthy alternative to plastic cups while providing the ability to transform an old glass container into a customizable to-go mug.

Considering that the Glass Packaging Institute estimates that in 2010 only 18% of food and glass jars were recycled, this product offers an important alternative to the landfill. Creating local jobs, EcoJarz provides a jarmazing solution to a single-use dilemma. What’s more, because of its flexibility, you can use the same lid for a child’s drinking glass, a travel mug that fits your cup holder, or an extra-large jar for serious hydration. The company’s newest product is the PopTop, a sealable wide-mouth drinking jar lid that makes it even easier for users on the go to avoid spills. The wide hole with a silicone plug is ideal for easy sipping, pouring and storing. And unlike disposable plastic products, these items are designed to last for many reuses to come.

The result of switching to reusable? Less waste and a more pleasurable dining experience. After all, doesn’t it feel like a luxury when you drink from a real glass, compared to a sticky waxed paper cup? And don’t you feel that much better for knowing that you aren’t adding to the landfill every time you grab a beverage out? Imagine if you had resuables at your fingertips every time you ate on the go.

Each person has their own technique to make going green just a little easier. For me, multi-function reusability is one of the many reasons I love EcoJarz. With my pint-and-a-half wide-mouth jar, PopTop stainless lid, and a long handled spoon, I have it all. Coffee or smoothie cup for the morning; soup container for lunch; and a receptacle for my leftover curry from dinner. The possibilities are endless, and with a jar, the mess truly is minimal. I can have my cake, and eat it too – provided that I bring my long handled spoon with me when using such a tall jar!

So whatever your product of choice may be, remember to bring your reusable cup, and join us in saving the world, one sip at a time. Then maybe someday, my vision of a reusable future won’t be so far-fetched.

Kat McCarthy is a co-owner of EcoJarz, a Master Composter, and a reuse advocate. More information about EcoJarz can be found online at

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