Monday, October 26, 2009

Massive chili plastic consumption - minus one.

Bleatings from EnviRambo.




Last year, I attended our local Chili Cook-Off for the first time and about had a heart attack. Not from the heat of the chili or the heat of the day - it was abnormally warm that day - but, from the amount of plastic being consumed. A dizzying, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking amount of plastic! I spilled the chili beans about it here. I never did write that letter to the event chair - I am a lazy environmentalist- but, the image of 32,000 styrofoam cups did stick with me.


Not to be one to lock myself in my eco-bubble and avoid all contact with the plastic-consuming outside world, I decided to give the chili cook-off another try. The location had changed, along with the weather - this year was abnormally cold - but, the rapacious use of disposables had not. This year I was more prepared for the massive chili plastic consumption - physically, if not mentally.


Armed with many layers, my camera, klean kanteen, stainless-steel thermos and to-go ware spoon hubby and I prepared to feast. Waiting in line I presented my thermos at each station and requested to have the chili sample placed in my own container. Last year when I tried this technique with the styrofoam cup I received from the first sample, several stations were less than thrilled with the idea and some flat out refused to reuse the container. This year with my own container, no one batted an eye. In fact, a few commented on my resourcefulness and remarked that I must be a chili cook-off veteran. Yeah, something like that.

Drowning in a sea of willy-nilly chili-eating plastic predators I stood with my one reusable container and bumped into the mayor. I commented on his lack of cups. Most of the people around us had a tower-o-foam from all the samples they had sampled. He replied that he had been tossing them as he made the rounds. Noting the thermos in my hand and bamboo spoon I was eating from he commented on my sustainability. In a crowd of hundreds, the only person who got it is the mayor. The mayor of city of over 50,000 that does not recycle plastic! A bit ironic, don't you think?


The reality is that not everyone shares the same eco-eagerness that you or I do. Or, even the eco-awareness of the rest of our family members. There will be more Chili Cook-offs and more plastic consumed - far more. It can be disheartening and at times overwhelming, but a solitude life hiding in our eco-wonderland called the internet is as bland as some of the bad chili I sampled. Add some spice to your life! Just because a recipe calls for one ingredient does not mean you cannot substitute another.


If you are shy about PDeA, just wear a crazy hat and no one will notice the reusable container you are eating from. Just like no one noticed the crazy guy in the background of my picture!

12 comments:

Momma Val said...

Too bad they cannot just use the thicker cardboardy (?) cups. I hate this, though see less and less of the styrofoam being used overall by me in Chicago :) Too bad, guessing they get a "deal" on the foam?

Kelly said...

or th eones made from food starch that uber biodegrade. only a few cents more per container...

The Raven said...

Ain't it the truth! Great post.

We just had a similar experience and are still trying to figure out how to change the event rather than just our own actions. Where we were, attendees in very large numbers were bringing reusable cups--but the official rule was that the beverages would be poured in the plastic cups and then people could dump the liquids into their own reusables... AAARRGH.

Green Bean said...

Wow! What timing. Our school's chili cookoff is next week and, unlike you, I'd forgotten all about the mound of disposables. I'm going to email the green team chair and see what we can do about decreasing our waste at this and other school events. Thanks for lighting the fire under my chili. ;-)

Rosa said...

I've had good luck in the past with finding mugs at the thrift store and handing them out to people at events. Though if they do the "so we'll serve it from the styrofoam to your cup and throw away the styrofoam" thing, it doesn't help :(

inadvertent farmer said...

One chili taster at a time...great post! Kim

Kellie said...

Oh gosh, I LOL (quite literally!) at the guy in the photo. I didn't even notice.

Rock on with your mug and see how many people bring them next year.

Daisy said...

Now it's time for the mayor to take a stand. Cardboard and separate bins - for composting - or rewards for those who are sustainable. A vendor could sell the re-usable bowls and spoons and cloth napkins.

kale for sale said...

We had a similar experience at a clam chowder cook off where they refused to put their chowder into the chowder cup of a rival. It seems like people often get a routine, there's no other way and they're moving so fast it's hard to consider another way (not that I've ever done this!). But I'm heartened by your story that more and more people are remembering their containers, getting noticed and giving people a chance to stop and reconsider. Thank you. It has to all help.

panamamama said...

We have a local soup event and everyone brings a muffin pan. That way you can have all the little muffin cups filled and don't have to have 6-12 actual cups.
I hate going to environmental day fairs and seeing bags and bags of garbage.

Over Coffee - the green edition said...

Great post! Love the hat!!!

wildfleur said...

I really liked your post, it got me thinking. I do have bouts of PDeA shyness, but I'm glad you didn't! Rock on with your bad thermos. :)

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