Monday, July 6, 2009

Waste Independence

Bleatings from EnviRambo.

At the beginning of my quest to lead a more eco-friendly, simple, sustainable life I kept my "green" desires hidden, like a dirty little secret. Focusing inward, by switching out my personal products but leaving the rest of the family the same. Making small changes that no one would notice: cleaning with vinegar while everyone was gone, line drying in the summer, sneaking in organic food. Gradually things became more noticeable. The toilet paper was not as soft as it used to be, we always seemed to be out of paper towels, the cereal did not taste the same, where did all the soda go? A year and a half later I have moved beyond the confines of my home - put it all out there for the world to see: I became active with local environmental groups; I mow my lawn with a reel mower; I bike; there are raised garden beds in the front lawn; I always bring my own bag (shopping, produce, bulk, or otherwise) and now glass, plate, silverware and napkin.

I am learning that the best way to effect change is not by hiding behind a computer screen blogging about it, but by getting out there and leading by example.

This past holiday weekend is my case in point. At MREA in June I added a few tools to my eco-arsenal: a klean kanteen (with the flat stainless top), mesh produce bags, to-go ware, and a wrap-n-mat. I have been using the klean kanteen all over since. Not so earth shattering since more and more people are starting to carry their own water bottles, but over the weekend I finally had the opportunity to present the others. I returned to my hometown to partake in the Independence Day festivities, including the annual BBQ sandwich sale at the American Legion. I filed in line, paid my $2.00 and stepped up to be served my sloppy, greasy, tasty mess. As she reached for the pile of plastic...

"Wait! I don't want a plate." Digging through my eco-toolbox purse, I pulled out my wrap-n-mat and handed it to her. She looked it over, confused. Taking it back, I set it on the table and unfolded it. "There."

"Oh. Is this one of those green things?" she asked while piling on the BBQ.

"Yes." I replied. By now I had a group of ladies. I quickly explained what it was and why I was using it. They happily loaded it up and watched in wonder as I refolded it into a neat little package and walked away.

"Wait! Don't forget a napkin. You will surely need one of those?" one of them called out.

"Oh." I habitually turned back to grab one. Stopping after one step, "No, that's okay. I have a towel in my purse. Thanks!"
I sat on the bench outside enjoying the summer weather and onlookers, while eating my greasy goodness from my wrap-n-mat, scooping up overflow with my to-go ware and washing it all down with my klean kanteen. No need to search for a trash can.

I made an encore appearance that night at the pizza pub. Despite our best efforts, we had three pieces left over. When the waitress appeared with the styrofoam take-out container I sank defeated. Looking at the box in despair, the light bulb finally clicked. Wait a minute! I don't need no stinking styrofoam. Da tada da! Wrap-n-mat to the rescue!

Feeling redeemed I wrapped up tomorrow's breakfast and went to the fireworks. Although I think they were already shooting off in my head. Sometimes I swear I live in my own personal movie.


Heather @ SGF said...

Welcome to the dark side (well, the dark green side anyway). I was shy about things at first too and now I love whipping out my napkin, telling the people at the food counter I don't need a fork or cup because I brought my own, and having my little tupperware container ready when it's time to pack up the leftovers.

The nice thing about living an environmental lifestyle is you don't have to shove it down anyone's throats. You just live the life and people notice.

Green Bean said...

"Sometimes I swear I live in my own personal movie." LOL!

You are an inspiration to me! I'm great about bringing my own water bottle/bag and sometimes my own flatware. I always intend to bring my own to-go containers, etc and I always forget! I'll have to emulate your eco-tool box.

Truffula Mama said...

Eco-toolbox -- I love it!

It's so freeing not to have to seek out a trash can, or to be concerned that you have a recyclable item dangling from your hand with nary a blue bin in sight.

Anonymous said...


Jeff9 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff9 said...

Save money and the Earth and be clean at the same time! Get serious and add Bathroom Bidet Sprayers to all your bathrooms. Available at with these you won't even need toilet paper any more, just a towel to dry off! It's cheap and can be installed without a plumber; and runs off the same water line to your toilet. You'll probably pay for it in a few months of toilet paper savings. And after using one of these you won't know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. Now we're talking green and helping the environment without any pain. As for water use a drought is always a concern and must be dealt with prudently but please remember that in the big picture the industrial water users always far exceed the water use of household users and in the case of toilet paper manufacture it is huge. The pollution and significant power use from that manufacturing process also contributes to global warming so switching to a hand bidet sprayer and lowering your toilet paper use is very green in multiple ways.

Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama said...

Right there with you. Bringing my own stuff and living in my own personal movie. I especially like the "ta da" parts.

kale for sale said...

The wrap mat is awesome! I've not seen those before. Thank you.

JessTrev said...

Hilarious, as usual! Need to tinker with my own eco-toolbox myself (to-go ware or thrift store flatware has to make it into my kit).

greeen sheeep said...

Heather - I agree, it seems to be the better way to go. People are naturally curious. I have gotten a far better response by answering questions they bring up than saying, "Well you know..."

Green Bean - That's the way it works. One person inspires another and then that person inspires another and so on down the line. Beth was my inspiration - taking her own containers to the butcher. Hopefully by someone seeing me use my wrap-n-mat in public it will plant the seed in their head.

Truffula Mama - Do you ever find yourself bringing trash home because you couldn't find a recycle bin? Yea, I'm right there with you.

Beth - You're awesome!

Jennifer - The "ta da" moments are what make life fun aren't they? "Ta da" is usually followed by a "Doh!", as in why didn't I think of that sooner?

Kale - I know, I am loving my wrap-n-mat! Now that I see how they are constructed I think a little DIY is in order.

Jess - How right you are, thrift store flatware would be a great tool to have in your eco-toolbox. I still need to add a glass straw to mine.


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