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!