Two weeks without using any disposable items proves challenging indeed
Forgo all disposable containers and plastic shopping bags for two weeks? Piece of cake, I thought -- then a hectic schedule and lack of planning gave me a reality check.
Monday, August 9, 2010 - 18:41
'EXHIBIT A': These to-go containers are evidence that it wasn't easy for me to forgo disposables. (Photo: Rachel Whitman)
When the MNN editors presented the local correspondents with a challenge this week, I was so positive I'd succeed that I thought of creating my own challenge category. The editors gave us three options to choose from:
Eat vegetarian for two weeks.
Walk, bike or use public transportation instead of driving for two weeks.
Do not use any disposable water bottles, coffee cups or plastic shopping bags for two weeks.
Since I'm already a vegetarian, challenge #1 was off the table for me. And as much as I admire those who practice alternate forms of transportation in Los Angeles, I was not ready to take that on during this particular two weeks. As for swearing off disposable items, I thought I had that completely in hand, too. After all, I bring my own Klean Kanteens with me in the morning, I have a ceramic coffee cup in my car in case I feel like stopping for a hot beverage somewhere and I keep my canvas and other reusable bags in the back of my car for shopping.
(These photos show my usual reusables)
I considered asking if I could do some sort of water or energy conservation challenge — like limiting my shower time, making sure to turn off all lights and appliances not in immediate use, etc. Then I considered option #3 again. Maybe, I thought, I'm not as consistent with this as I imagine myself to be...
Lo and behold, a hectic Friday and Saturday this last week provided a reality check. Between classes, appointments and work on Friday (all in different parts of town) I had to grab lunch — resulting in a to-go container and utensils. One redeeming fact about those was that they're compostable, made of #7 PLA (polylactic acid) by the company Nature Works. The eatery my lunch came from, a place called Mixt Greens, also offers compostable drink cups of the same material, made by Fabri-Kal. I don't have a compost pile, but still I was a little less guilty since the items weren't plastic and are biodegradable...
Then came Saturday. I had a meeting at a coffee shop and, since I rode there with someone else, didn't have my ceramic coffee cup with me. Disposable cup. Say it isn't so! Two days of lapses in a row. Then Saturday evening I was still out, running errands and a little tired, and hungry. So we stopped somewhere to eat and the ready-made salads were all packaged in, you guessed it, little plastic bowls. Low blood sugar trumped my environmentalism at that point — but I made a silent vow to get it together for the remainder of this challenge.
I'm happy to say I had a successful Sunday. And Monday morning I headed out the door with my Klean Kanteens, did some grocery shopping with my reusable bags and managed to keep the single-use items at bay. Two weeks to go — and a clearer picture of the potential pitfalls for this challenge.
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