Random thoughts about disposable stuff [day 20 & 21]

I haven’t had much time to blog, but I have run into many crazy situations and learned a lot over the past few days.  Here are a few random things.

7I’m reading the book 7: Mutiny Against Excess.  (a) I should have written a book about all of my challenges and experiences.  Shane Claibourne is my hero too.  I also think the world will someday be like a scene from the Book of Eli.  (b)  This book very much parallels with this challenge.  It’s a really good read.  It will mess you up, in a good way.

space shipI wonder what the aliens think of us?  We’re a pretty wasteful society.  I guess their thoughts about planet earth may depend on where they land their spaceship.  America?  Africa?  Mexico?  Finland?

the-colony-tv-showA post-apocalyptic world.  My kids have started watching a new show called The Colony.  Yes, I know, 2009 is not new, but it’s new to us. We only have Netflix.  The program follows some people who must survive in a simulated post-apocalyptic environment.  No, I didn’t make them watch it.  They started watching it and insisted I watch it with them.  It’s a good follow-up to MacGyver, Pawn Stars and Mythbusters.  They have to live off waste and old junk.   Continue reading

Fast food without waste? [day 17]

I wonder when the fast food craze will end and the eco food will take over.  What?  It could happen.  Doing this challenge during a road trip was, well, a trip.  2,777 miles in 8 days.


I let my kids buy their own snacks and I didn’t make them participate in the challenge.  They did some of the time, and of their own free will, but I didn’t require it.  We mostly stopped at restaurants, not fast food places.  It’s pretty easy to keep with the challenge at sit-down places.  Our last trek home was a long one, and eating in the car was a good plan.   Continue reading

Still travelling, on a sugar high [day 11]

We reached destination #2 at midnight last night.  My sister’s house in Wisconsin, where the snow is piled high.  In a few minutes, we’re leaving for destination #3: my dad’s cabin in Somewhere, Wisconsin.  I really have no idea where it is, so I’ll just call it Somewhere.

rain drivingIn our 9 hours of driving, it rained for 8.5 of it.  We couldn’t make many stops, unless we wanted to get wet and drive until the wee hours of the morning.  Here are a few of the non-disposable situations I came across.



Breakfast was at First Watch, a local diner in the Kansas City area.  Nothing too eventful there, as they had regular plates and glasses.  The silverware was wrapped in paper napkins, so I didn’t use a napkin.  The food was awesome!    Continue reading

dear fast food places, I miss you

For the first time in several months, I missed fast food.  I was craving a Wendy’s chicken sandwich and fries.  I was craving the food itself much more than the convenience of it, however that would be nice sometimes.  My anti-fast food thing is more about the paper waste.  I think we need to become less wasteful in our ways and this is my contribution to that.  It did make me think though…

  • What if I brought my own packaging?  Yes, this would be weird, but I wonder if the fast food places would use the things I brought?  They have strict rules to follow, not only corporate rules, but health department rules.  This might just be my next mini-challenge.
  • What if fast food places provided non-disposable options?  They would need more labor costs for washing dishes, but would save on paper supplies.
  • Is recycling enough?  No.  Most of these places don’t recycle, although they say their stuff can be recycled.  ??!!?  Look at us!!  We’re being green because this is biodegradable!  Great.  Huge landfills with lots of stuff that will still take many years to disintegrate.

Just a few thoughts.  Fast food is not evil.  Without my challenge, I might partake once or twice a month.  Every time I have, I feel terrible that I’m supporting something I don’t believe in.

Dear fast food places,

Please put those top CEO’s to work on coming up with some non-wasteful ways for you to do your business.  Our entire world will benefit from it, and you will too.

Sincerely,  A person that missed your food

a not-so-edible mini challenge

My new mini-challenge… no fast food through the end of the year and no eating out for a month.  (one exception: my friend’s birthday dinner)  It pains me to see all of the paper waste from eating fast food.  Not doing the fast food thing through the end of the year should give me a good idea why I’ve done it in the first place.  It’s convenience, but is it really necessary?  I really dislike cooking, but I will have to cook more now.  As for the not eating out for a month, that’s more due to money.  We ate out almost everyday on vacation, so it’s time to cut back for a bit.

We really don’t eat a lot of fast food anyway, so my kids won’t go into culture shock… at least I don’t think they will.  Fast food is not really healthy either, so this is a good choice to make.  Here’s a few tips I’m using to make this work:

Menu planning.  I will have to plan meals a little better than I have in the past.  I won’t do this everyday, but I will have to do it more often than I do now… which is never.

Get the kids involved.  What do they want?  And my boys need to learn how to cook, although Cole will probably tell me his future wife will cook for him, right before she washes his dishes.  Yes, he really said that.

Travelling and field trips.  These things will have to be planned in advance.  I could bring a cooler and / or pack a picnic.

Wish me luck!  Here we go…

fast waste [day 315]

I love pretty much any condiment, mustard, ketchup, sour cream, grape jelly, salsa… you name it.  I’ve been referred to as the condiment queen.  This is a problem to me in the world of fast food.  There’s so much plastic and paper waste associated with it.  I looked up condiment packaging and found a few eco-friendly alternatives.  For me, this brings up a bigger question.  The word “ECO” is used a lot these days.  I’m glad people are coming up with eco-friendly options that are much better for the environment, but here’s my question.

Should we just be content with using products that are a little bit better for the environment or should we be trying to scale back our use of disposable products?

I’m trying to do both.  I’m not always successful as you can see in the photo, but those were given with my meal, not upon request, but just assumed I would eat them all.  I’ve cut way back on the fast food consumption over the past year.  Meals are supposed to be a time of fellowship and relaxation.  If my lifestyle needs fast food, I need to make some changes.

My ideas were validated a few days ago by the cost of fast food.  My 2 boys and I went to Sonic.  I’m usually all over the price shopping part of eating, but this day, I decided to let them order whatever they wanted.  They both ordered modestly, as did I.  Almost $18.00 spent and the kids were still hungry.  A few days later, we went to a sit-down restaurant.  This time it was me and the kids, but we brought a friend along as well.  Including ‘good’ food for all of us, one beer and one dessert, the total was around $35, including the tip.  There’s a price for all that packaging, not to mention the nutritional value of fast food.

Also, I’m not sure why, but the magic number of napkins seems to be 6.  Why do I need 6 napkins with a sandwich?  Do I look that messy?  If they give out 5 extra napkins per person, with an average customer count of 450 a day, that’s 2,250 napkins that go in a landfill.  And that’s just napkins.

I’m not saying I will never eat fast food again (although I’m leaning in that direction), but I will be doing it even less now.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat fast food either.  We should all be aware of the effects of it though.  There are times where the fast food meal is not a bad idea, but doing it regularly will cost you a lot of money, aid in destroying our earth and eventually will break your heart.

mom!! the ice cream truck!! [day 312]

I have really come to hate the taunting music played from the ice cream truck, getting louder as it gets closer to my house.  As soon as I hear the fain sounds of it, I know what’s next.  Mom!!!!!  The ice cream truck!!!!!!  My kids know I’m not a fan of the van filled with overpriced, well advertised sugar products, stopping to fill the air with carbon monoxide and invading my territory.  While I was away and had a sitter, they went to the truck.  My youngest, knowing I would not be happy about this, decided to make something good out of it.  He decide to get something that was in a container we could reuse, and he also talked all his friends into doing the same.

We use these little containers in our lunch bags.  I did not end here.  The next time the ice cream truck came by, I said, “No.”  After much deliberation, I decided to have some fun with this.  I let him go out and get some ice cream from the truck.  I think I freaked out my neighbors, but here’s what happened…



I haven’t checked at Kroger yet to see if they carry Popsicle Shots, but I’ll be checking today.  I’m all about people making a living in creative ways, and the ice cream truck driver is a good way to make some money.  It’s like fast food that comes to your house with dessert.  I never buy this for my kids, I make them use their own money.  If they feel good about the purchase, then I’ll go with it.  I don’t always say yes to the ice cream truck, but I don’t always say no.  Balance.  It’s all about balance.


the one for one model [day 295]

Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes, was a keynote speaker this year at SXSW.  Not only was it incredible to hear his story, but just to hear the magnitude of positive change his company has created in the world.  Here’s the best part.  Blake made this statement at the end of his talk.

“From this day forward, TOMS is no longer a shoe company. It’s a one-for-one company.  Our next step is meeting those needs around the world.”

Yes, TOMS is now a one-for-one company.  In June, they’re launching their next product.  You buy one, somebody in need gets one.  It’s a for profit model, and an extremely successful one.  I have to say here that I would love to go out and buy a pair of TOMS shoes.  With my one year of no retail shopping, unfortunately that’s not an option.  If I buy them used, a person in need will not get a new pair of shoes, however, even in the secondary market, good can still be done.

  • If I get them at a thrift store, that money goes to charity.
  • If I wear them, I’m marketing TOMS and this one-for-one model.
  • If I buy them used, paying less than retail, I’ve saved money that I can donate to one of my favorite charities.

How else can we apply the 1-for-1 model?

I’ve been pondering this question for a few days now.  I don’t know how anyone can hear the TOMS story and not wonder how we can all be a part of it.  TOMS is obviously onto something here.  I have a few ideas of how this could be applied in other ways to benefit TOMorrow.   Continue reading

I’m back… with another green bag [day 81]

So I’ve been trying to decide if I should do blog posts for all the days I was gone or do them all together.  I’m actually on day 85 now.  I think I will do the individual days, as I’ve had many experiences with the no shopping thing that are not blogged yet.  :)

Before going camping, I decided to take my kids to Whataburger for lunch.  I decided to try something new.  I brought a green (pink) bag inside with me and asked the guy to put all of the food directly in the bag to avoid all the paper and plastic waste.  He looked at me like I was crazy, but in his defense, it was lunch and they were extremely busy.  I’m sure an out of routine request just complicates things, so for that I apologize to the guy helping us.

I didn’t get too specific on the use of the bag, I guess, as this is what I got.

Maybe next time I should bring four reusable bags?

vending machines [day 69]

I usually don’t allow my kids to use vending machines or candy machines.  25¢ for a piece of gum?  Let’s do the math.  For 89¢ I can get a 10 pack of these same gum balls, which is still a lot in my mind.  Anyway… I used a vending machine yesterday.  I paid $1.50 for a bottle of Fuze at the library.  I was going to be there for 4 hours, so it was probably a good plan.  The new blueberry-raspberry is awesome.  :)

I’ve been thinking about waste and convenience lately in the food realm.  We want faster and more convenient because our lifestyles demand it.  The one thing that bothers me about my fast food consumption is the waste that goes along with it.  Have you noticed the amount of trash generated by one meal?

Jimmy John’s ‘individually wrapped’ pickle, paper secured in place with a wrap-around sticker.  Notice the Starbucks coffee sleeve on the table.  I was away from home, which is the only time I do fast coffee, and I tried to hold the cup without the paper sleeve.  Not  good plan.  Whataburger has the best grilled chicken fast food sandwich, however they have the most waste.  Giant styrofoam cups, lots of paper and cardboard packaging all nicely placed into a very large plastic bag.  I also love Sonic’s happy hour, half priced route 44 diet limeade… in an oversized styrofoam cup, with a large plastic straw wrapped in paper.

Subway has a good plan with their kids meals.  They put them in reusable lunch bags.  These are great if you remember to bring it next time you get a meal or if you use them for the kids lunch box.

How could we incorporate green bags into the fast food world?

It would take the support of the major companies, but it could be done.  There are no laws in place aimed at encouraging retailers or restaurants recycle, reduce or reuse anything.

How can we modify our lives to be less wasteful this way?

I’m realizing that I eat way too much fast food, and at restaurants in general.  I’m scared to look at how much money I spend per month doing just that.  I could make time to cook more.  What do I cut out of my busy schedule?  What would a FF place do if I brought my own bags and cups?  Hmmm, I feel a challenge moment coming on here.

Here’s a few things I’m doing to save.  Not 100% of the time, but most of the time.  Do you do any of these?

  • Go inside, less fuel waste with the car idling.
  • Ask for no bag, or for everything to go in one bag.
  • My kids give back the toys in the kids meals if they don’t like them.
  • I make the kids split an adult meal because we are not there for toys.
  • Don’t order more than you will eat.

Now here’s a list of things I need to do:

  • Don’t use a straw unless necessary.
  • Try to eat at sit down restaurants when possible.
  • Bring my own ‘doggie box’ when I know there will be leftovers.
  • Support fast food places that recycle.
  • Support fast food places that are environmentally conscious.

Do you have more ideas?  Do share!