Yesterday I attended a birthday party for my husband's 89 year old grandmother. It was a small gathering of family with food and drink. We were all asked to bring a dish to pass, beverages and eating utensils would be provided. As we sat down to eat I noticed that the family behind us hardly had anything on their plates. Some chips, salad, and beans. No meat. My first thought was vegetarian and I immediately wished I had brought mac 'n cheese instead of pulled pork sandwiches. Then my husband reminded me of Ramadan. Their plates weren't empty because they are vegetarian, they were empty because they are Muslim. Then I really regretted bringing the pork. The only other meat option was hot dogs. Lord only knows what those things are made of, but I am pretty sure it involves some pork. Technically Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink between dawn and sunset during Ramadan, but they were granted a travel exemption, having to make up the missed fast at a later date. Pork however is always off limits.
I made a comment to my husband about wishing I had brought mac 'n cheese so they would have more to eat and he replied by saying knowing the situation they were in you think they would be prepared and bring something for themselves. That got me thinking.
I often run into similar situations with my stance on sustainability. This party being one of them. My mother-in-law hosted the party and knows how I feel about plastic and disposables, yet styrofoam plates and plastic utensils abounded. She made a point to say that she would rather not use them and apologized, but should she have to? It's my belief not hers. I appreciate that she is sensitive to the issue, but should I expect her to cater to it? I did bring my own water bottle, cloth napkin, and bamboo cutlery, but left without a plate thinking the ones provided would be paper. They ended up being styrofoam. Who should I be upset with? My mother-in-law? Or, myself for not being better prepared knowing the situation I was going into?
It was kind of an eye-opening moment. One that will push me to provide for myself more. It is going to be a long time before plastic and disposables become the exception. My internal lamenting and grumbling to my husband is not going to hasten the process, but if I start bringing my own reusables to family functions, get-togethers with friends, restaurants, take-out joints, basically everywhere I go, then maybe someone will take note and do the same. And then another and another and eventually society will catch on and restaurants will make the switch. But for now it is my belief not theirs.