Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to pack reusable containers to bring to restaurants or cafeterias instead of bringing home Styrofoam take-out containers or other disposables.
Get up from your computer right now and do it.
That’s right. Stand up, grab a few cheap plastic containers that will survive a few weeks in your vehicle, and put them in your car. Or at least by your purse.
It’s okay. I’ll wait.
Really. Leave now. Get it done, or you’ll probably forget.
I’ll still be here when you get back. In fact, you’ll want to read to the end of the post to see what else is coming in January’s “Back To Basics” series.
See you in a minute…
I Tried and Tried
It was my goal to bring my own containers for months. We don’t eat out very often, so it was only about once a month that I was reminded of my goal, usually when I sighed in disgust upon having to stuff a large Styrofoam takeout container into my fridge.
Once I finally remembered to bring them, I always forgot to take them in to the restaurant. (I still do, but I just run out and grab them when I need them.)
Then I finally remembered, used it once, and forgot to “reload”, finding myself sighing in disgust again the next time we were out to eat.
Trust me, this is a perfect New Year’s Monday Mission. You will feel so good about yourself the next time you have restaurant leftovers and avoid the Styrofoam, and it’s such an easy goal to accomplish. In fact, if you haven’t already done it, you can get up and do it now…
Why Bring Your Own?
Here’s why I go the extra mile (and endure the very strange looks from surprised waitresses when I proudly say, “I have my own box!”):
- I really hate throwing things away, especially oversized, non-biodegradable things.
- Those takeout boxes are almost always at least twice as big as we need.
- Styrofoam is actually plastic number 6, which is not recommended for food because of the BPA. Even though I use plastic, it’s number 5, BPA-free.
- I love accomplishing something, and I love feeling really “green” and “crunchy” when it’s really easy to do.
After months of failure, I’ve finally found the system that works perfectly for me. I’ll share it just in case it inspires you to get weird looks from your servers, too. I mean, just in case you can figure out what works for you without as many “oopses” as I had.
- The first time I finally remembered to pack my own, I chose a unique bowl that we only had one copy of in the house. My plan was to make sure that whenever it was cleaned, it went right back into the car. That plan quickly backfired when I wasn’t the person putting away the dishes and it got stashed in the cupboard.
- Now I immediately replace whatever containers I use when I get home and put them into the fridge. I grab equivalent sizes from the cupboard and set them by my purse so they get into the car the next day.
- I pack double what I expect I’ll need, so I have some on reserve in case I forget to reload. For us, that’s two square 4-cup boxes and two large cottage cheese containers.
- The containers live in a bag so they don’t fly all around my van.
I may have surprised some of you by asking you to pack plastic, when more often than not I’m reminding you to stay away from plastic and switch to glass or stainless steel. Quite simply, I don’t have enough. I am constantly running out of my favorite sizes of glass dishes, and my stainless steels aren’t big enough to be practical for unknown leftover quantities. Ergo, I take baby steps.
Number 5 plastic that I don’t have to throw away is a huge leap of improvement from a number 6 Styrofoam container that fills nearly one-fourth of my trash can. I am happy with that, for now.
What if We Never Go Out to Eat?
I hear you. We wouldn’t but a few times a year if not for my in-laws taking us out sometimes. Whether you’re super frugal, have a large family, or are just 100% committed to real food (which is tricky to find outside a home), you might think you have no mission this week.
For you, I would encourage you to take another step, then, in getting rid of your plasticware and switching over more fully to glass and stainless steel, or choosing something disposable in your home that doesn’t have to be and making a change. Here are some posts for inspiration:
- What’s the Deal with BPA?
- Rethink Plastic Food Storage Containers
- Fake Plastic Fish’s No Plastic Story and Facts
- Loving my Glass Containers
- Review of Stainless Steel Containers
- Ditching the Disposables (including our cloth napkins)
Back To Basics
January’s Monday Missions are all going to have a “Back To Basics” theme to get your new year started out right. This one is a simple “go green!” mission that I think everyone can accomplish, no matter how many steps you’ve taken along the eco-friendly continuum. (Of course, don’t worry if you have a few failures. Cleary I paved the way for those!)
Now go get those reusable containers, if you haven’t already.
You might also want to think about saving a few glass jars this week if you have spaghetti sauce or store applesauce, anything that comes in a glass jar 3 cups or more. Next week we’re revisiting one of my all-time favorite subjects: homemade yogurt. If you’ve never made it, 2011 is the perfect time to start! If you’re a homemade yogurt junkie like me, we can talk upgrades and transformations to the basic routine.
The rest of January will bring reviews of using dry beans and more beans in general (one of the topics in the first two months of this blog, when it was just a baby site), healthy fats (one of the most popular series from over a year ago), and one more undetermined “Back To Basics” topic. If you have a suggestion, feel free to share!
Happy New Year!