Kristina Moen, Day 15 of Zero Waste Challenge
Day 15 of the Zero Waste Challenge - Eating Out Edition
One thing I didn’t anticipate with the Zero Waste Challenge is how much I eat out - at restaurants, at work, and at other people’s homes. Now that I am trying to take my trash home with me, it is more apparent how much trash I produce outside my home. I wasn’t really aware of how much trash I created because it was spread around. My rule of thumb has been not to discard anything in a trash can anywhere except my jar - so if it’s compostable or recyclable and there’s no receptacles for that, I take it home. I’ve learned that compostables and paper won’t truly break down in a landfill and just becomes trash. I didn’t know this before! It has sure cut down on paper towels that I use at work. Now I air dry my hands after washing them or use a cloth napkin that I brought from home.
Eating out can be problematic because I know there’s unseen waste associated with food preparation. My efforts to mitigate that has been to bring my own plate and cutlery, my own to-go drink containers, my own cloth napkin, asking for no straws, or getting food “for here” rather than to-go. I am keeping an “eating out kit” in my car. I take any trash home in my bag, like compostable food or napkins. When I’m eating at a friend’s home, I have tried to take the trash from food that I brought to the home (like cheese wrappers). I know the goal of this challenge is not necessarily to capture ALL of my waste (that’s impossible) - but the attempt to capture and curb my waste is making me more conscious. And I am figuring out what is sustainable for the future (bringing my own cloth napkin to the Galley – maybe not. But bringing my own plate to the taco truck – yes!).
Before the challenge, I had bought items that produced waste and then consumed this month- so in a way, this is almost a precursor to my true zero waste challenge. Certain things have just been such a pain in the butt to fit into my jar and I won’t be buying them in the future. Chip bags, for example. Sure, I can try to reuse them, but they still end up in the landfill. I don’t even LIKE chips that much, they’ve just always been an easy snack. The plastic pump on my lotion bottle. I will be getting lotions and shampoo/conditioner without the plastic pumps from now on. Bags of pasta - why not try bulk instead? On that note - we have great bulk coffee at Blossom. The same coffee I would buy in a bag, I can buy in a jar instead. It’s so easy! Sadly, I haven’t found a good way to eat ice cream without producing waste unless I make it myself. I welcome ideas! I did find a frozen banana soft-serve maker at the thrift shop, though. You put frozen bananas into a machine, and out comes a creamy frozen treat. To no one’s surprise, it tastes like banana.
One thing that has surprised me is how many bits of plastic come on EVERYTHING. Yes, a container might be recyclable, but there’s a ring of plastic around the top. I don’t know how the human race lived before plastic. Also, I am a big fan of cheese and that is always covered in plastic. Even my glass milk bottles have a plastic top and plastic ring. And then there’s all the paper/foil that is coated with plastic (like milk cartons, foil from cream cheese, etc.). We’re living in a plastic universe. I’ve included photos of my jar at day 5 and day 15.