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Given two courses of action a1 and a2, there exist times such that we can classify action a1 as more sustainable than a2 (relatively speaking).

Suppose that one of the two actions is to put peanut butter jars in the trash. By "trash", I mean that the contents of the trash bin will be transported to a landfill or garage dump. In this context, the phrase "put in the trash" does not have the same meaning, or association with touchable visual objects, as put "put in a recycling bin"

What action is more sustainable than "put the peanut butter jar in the trash"?

I am writing in terms of relativistic comparisons on human behaviors regarding peanut butter jars, not absolutes.

This relativistic sustainability concept is related to ordered sets.

Ordered sets are related to idea that 10 < 17, or 3 less than 9.

Consider the following sequence of tasks:

  • SML = (form plastic pellets from stock, compress plastic pellets inside auger until molten, mold molten pellets into a peanut butter jar)

  • BIG = (refine petroleum into plastic stock, form plastic pellets from stock, compress plastic pellets inside auger until molten, mold molten pellets into a peanut butter jar)

One set of tasks is smaller than the other set of tasks. SML ⊂ BIG. We so not need to sum up total energy expended when the set of tasks in one procedure is a subset of the tasks in the other procedure. In other cases, we can compare only the things which are different in terms of ordered sets or less-than-or-equals binary relations.( ≤ ). Composting a banana peel is more environmentally friendly than throwing the banana peel into a trash can, relativistically speaking caeteris paribus. In this context, "caeteris paribus" means that you do not drive a car with a banana peel from Los Angeles, CA to Denver, Colorado in order to out the banana peel inside of a composting bin. All bananas are transported long distances using fossil fuels, but which practice is more environmentally friendly (relatively speaking), when it comes to peanut butter jars than putting the jar in the trash?

  • 1
    Your question is quite long and I'm not sure all you wrote is relevant. Why not simply ask "what is a more sustainable alternative to putting empty glass jars in the trash bin"? You could elaborate that you're interested in lowering your negative environmental impact?.
    – THelper
    Commented Jun 30, 2023 at 9:58

2 Answers 2


Check if there's a refill store nearby that sells peanut butter. We have one in our neighborhood, so every time our glass peanut butter jar is empty we put it in the dishwasher and then we go to the store to have it refilled. The peanuts are crushed on the spot.

You reuse and avoid new packaging at the same time.


Reusing the peanut butter jar for bread flour is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than putting the jar in the trash and purchasing a newly made container for bread flour or other dry kitchen goods.

The following photographs from the inside of my domicile act as a analogies to the statement given above. In the photographs, there exist depictions of containers which are not plastic jars originally used for peanut butter. In other photographs, we feature plastic peanut butter jars containing metal screws instead of bread flour.

a peanut butter jar containing a smattering handful if steel machine screws

a glass jar containing corn meal treated with lye or calcium hydroxide. The jar used to contain peaches. The glass jar was not in a landfill or garbage dump as of the year 2023 and month of June. Nobody has to make a second glass jar for me in a factory because I reused an old glass jar

a plastic jar containing rice

Relatively speaking, re-using a plastic jar to store dry rice is more sustainable than throwing the old plastic jar in the trash and buying a new empty jar from Amazon or the container store and storing dry rice inside of the new container.

The container depictwd here used to contain red chili pepper powder and sauerkraut.

Eating rice in North America is not very sustainable when there are more than 8 billion human persons on Earth. Eating Amaranth seeds might be more sustainable in North America than rice.

  • The last comment is a strange one. The USA is the 13th largest producer of rice in the world and arguably the largest or second largest where it is not an absolute cultural staple (I am not familiar enough with the culinary traditions of Brazil). Are you referring to the need for irrigation, which is not unique to North America?
    – Tom W
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 18:58

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