Jordan’s Green-Guide #masonjars

A couple of times each year I meander around shopping centers or big-box retailers like Target or Walmart.  I’m not entirely sure why I do this. I don’t go with specific intention, and I don’t purchase anything.  I suspect it’s a combination of the contrived space coupled with how people interact with it that draws me in.  These places interest me -- the deliberate colors, textures, smells,  and how people behave within them is fascinating.


On a recent tour through a Downtown LA  Target store, I encountered an end-of-aisle display of mason jars. Now, I’m not a merchandising specialist, but if these things are sitting at the end of an aisle, unmissable at eye-level and bearing a fancy sale card, somebody is betting that they’ll sell. There must be significant demand for this product.  I immediately began thinking of the minimalism movement, and the current obsession with simplistic Scandinavian design.  Being a self-purported minimalist who lived in Sweden, I understand the allure of both.  The first step to freedom is clearing one’s physical space of objects without use or intention, and Scandic design embodies this with its clean, unadulterated, function-oriented simplicity.

Now, back to mason jars.  Whether they’re on wedding Pinterest boards, in your trendy friend’s kitchen or on the end of that aisle in Target, mason jars and the like are certainly “on-trend”.  The ability to keep bulk nuts, grains, dried fruit, seeds, and anything else you can possibly imagine in Jars is attractive and useful. It is also manifest tribe-signalling.


The term “tribe-signalling”  is used to describe behavior that indicates to our peers which group or tribe we belong in or, at least, feel we belong in. Being “on-trend” requires an understanding of something as trendy, which requires an understanding of whose behavior we’d like to mimic.  Therefore, in contemporary culture, we demonstrate which tribe we’d like to be a part of through the clothes we adorn, the car we drive, and the house we keep.  However, different groups follow different leaders whose behavior they’d like to mimic.  I digress, apologies.


The reason the jars caught my eyes, and have subsequently troubled me is that I don’t see a helluva lot of people buying bulk at grocery stores.  This means that people are buying packaged goods to fill their mason jars!  People are purchasing rice, beans, flour, sugar, oats, nuts, seeds, dates, and whatever else in plastic or paper, and then dumping them into the jars!  The beauty of jars is that they keep food fresh, they can be filled without producing any waste, and that they are easy on the eyes.  To place food from packaging into the jars defies the notions of simplicity and lessened environmental footprint that underpin minimalism.


Tips for conserving money and the environment while becoming the coolest new leader of your tribe  🤙🏼  :

  1. Bring any jars to the grocery store and the clerk will be happy to subtract the jar tare weight from the total.

  2. If the jars are too heavy or bulky to lug to the store, bring your own cloth bags to fill with dry bulk goods.

  3. Purchase things in glass jars based upon what you might use the glass jar for after the original contents are consumed.  Also, think about which jars you find aesthetically pleasing for your kitchen and buy the tomato sauce or pickles in those jars.  (Pro Tip: wide-mouth jars are easier to clean)

  4. Bring stainless steel vessels with silicon caps for messy or gooey items.  The clerk can also subtract tare weight for these.

  5. Anything that you could by from the bulk bin, you should.  When you buy something in packaging, you are wasting money on the plastic or paper that it comes in, not to mention the marketing team costs for convincing you to do so.



Jordan McKay