Tag Archives: reusable

Bring Your Own

You know when you go out to dinner and order an entree the size of a child because you’re super hungry, but you only end up eating maybe half, so you decide to wrap up whatever’s left and take it home with you for later, because you don’t want to be wasteful. Well, as noble as you were not to waste the food you didn’t finish, your efforts to eliminate your waste were ultimately fruitless, once you factor in the heap of single-use foil and plastic that was used to wrap your food.

Last weekend at work, my coworker / close friend Radhika confessed a crime we’ve all been guilty of at times. “You won’t believe it, Dakota,” she said. This was her story (maybe not verbatim, but here’s the gist):

“Yesterday, I ordered sushi next door for lunch, as usual. Six cucumber rolls, some ginger and wasabi, and soy sauce, of course. I took it to go. It cost less than five dollars and took me less than five minutes to eat, and I walked less than twenty feet to eat it. The entire meal could fit in my hand, and yet, after I finished, I was left with the plastic box the sushi came in, two plastic ginger containers, one plastic container for wasabi, two plastic packets of soy sauce, single-use wooden chopsticks and the paper they were wrapped in, napkins, and the bag all of it came in. There was more plastic than there was sushi.”

A lot of damage for a less-than-five-minute / less-than-five-dollar / less-than-twenty-feet-take-away meal.

The guilt was all too real for Radhika, but most people don’t think twice about the amount of waste we use to move our food around. Especially when all those items could have been replaced with reusable ones. So I went to the Japanese dollar store, one of my guilty pleasures, and supplied my sushi-fiending friend the reusable versions of all the items she listed wasting on her favorite lunch. And we got sushi. It was waste-free, guilt-free and delicious. Here’s what it looked like.Containers

sushi for two
Sushi for two
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My lunch date, Radhikadabra, radiating beauty and sustainability

And all I had to do was make room in my bag for just a little bit more crap, and ask the man taking my order at the sushi place to please use my own containers for our food. I told him which containers were for which items, asked if they would fit, and voila. No waste. We ate, rinsed our containers, and threw nothing away. It tastes better that way. Savor the taste of zero-waste, today. Here’s how:

Before leaving your house, ask yourself if you might a) stop for groceries, or b) go out somewhere to eat / pick up a beverage or food to go. Then pack accordingly.

If you might be picking up groceries, bring your own reusable shopping bags and reusable produce bags.

If you know you’re going to stop for coffee / tea / a smoothie, bring your own cup.

If you might be going out to eat, chances are, you’re going to take some leftovers to go. Bring your own to-go containers. I use glass containers with airtight, snappy lids so liquid contents don’t leak all over my shit. I bought microwave-safe ones so I can just open it up and nuke it later in the same container, so I don’t have to dirty an extra dish.

If you’ve ever worked in the food service industry, you’ve probably enjoyed the exhilarating task of rolling roll-ups, or sets of forks, knives and spoons (optional) rolled up in napkins. Bring your own roll-ups for snacks and meals on the go, including whatever utensils you may need and a hand towel, a cloth one, so you can wash and reuse all of the above.

If you’re hosting or attending a dinner at your or someone else’s home, bring or provide your own set of to-go containers, enough for everyone attending, to distribute leftovers for guests to bring home with them, so no food and no food-wrap-or-containers go to waste.

It may sound like a hassle, but if one extra step is what it takes to make this world a cleaner place, isn’t it worth it? Remember bringing your lunch box to school as a kid? Why did we stop? It’s not like we stopped eating lunch. So if you eat lunch, bring your own box.

Whatever you would be wasting, don’t. Bring your own.

Be The Change

This year, I’m wishing Merry Christmas to my customers at Summit Coffee by walking my talk and giving the gift of sustainability. In the spirit of Gandhi, and Summit Coffee, I’m being the change I wish to see in this world by forcing reusable plastic travel mugs on all our regulars.BeTheChangeI love the coffee shop I work at, and I’m proud to caffeinate Redwood City’s finest coffee fiends, but I would be prouder without the hundreds of paper cups and plastic lids we fill our trashcans with. I’m just as responsible for contributing hundreds of paper cups as our customers are. If I want the world to be more sustainable about consuming coffee, I can’t wait for everyone else to decide to switch to travel mugs. I, the barista, have to be the change. If I don’t want to see to-go cups go to waste, it’s my job to refuse to waste them. It’s my responsibility to offer an alternative. So I’m converting customers to travel mugs, one cup of coffee at a time.QueenOfCupsThis marks the first year of a hopefully lifelong tradition I plan to carry to my future coffee shop. Most coffee shops offer some kind of customer loyalty reward, but why not reward regular customers with a free reusable travel mug? They’re the ones who come in every day. Sure, it’s not cheap. It’s an investment. Just think of the money you’ll save on the long-run on hundreds of single-use to-go cups. Just think of the business your commitment to sustainability will bring you. Just think of the waste your coffee shop won’t be contributing. One person behind the counter in one coffee shop touches the lives of hundreds of customers every day. It’s that easy to make a difference.

edroLargeDecafMediumLatteAdorableAlmondSoyLatteJamesRobertoPickingUpForWifeMeleLouSmallCoffeeSumitViceMayorRWCFatherDaughterJessAmigoOnTheGoCupsTheBoyzTheUsualsTheBoysIf you want to see a change in this world, you have to be the change. So be it.

Give the Gift of Sustainability

Gift-giving is always a gamble. There’s no guarantee the person receiving your gift will like or use it. You’re just giving them the option, if they want it. So take advantage of this solid opportunity to force unwanted crap on somebody you love to supply them with the tools they need, should they decide to utilize them, to make this world a better place for all of us, one meal / beverage at a time. Let your present double as a present to this planet, and by extension to yourself, by giving the gift of sustainability.

New parents describe their babies as eating, shitting machines, but to my knowledge, adults carry right on eating and shitting just the same. The only difference is adults have more responsibilities to tend to in between shitting and eating. Feeding ourselves is a lifelong commitment, and requires all kinds of equipment. Dishes, cups, utensils, containers to store leftover food, bags to haul our groceries home, etcetera. More and more of these materials are being produced for single use. To-go cups. Fast food packaging. “Disposable” serving utensils and shopping bags.

But there’s no such thing as “disposable.” Diverting garbage to the dumps so we don’t see it doesn’t make it disappear. We can’t sweep our waste under the rugs forever. We’re running out of rugs. All we can do now is reduce our waste in any way we can, and there are many ways we can, all of which would make for awesome gifts. This year, your holiday shopping list should look something like this:

 

TRAVEL MUG

As a barista, the coffee shop I work at doles out hundreds of paper cups each day to customers taking their coffee to-go. And even if the cups are compostable, realistically, only a fraction of them will be composted. The majority will likely wind up in the garbage, and a fair amount are fated to be litter. And that’s just one coffee shop. Multiply that by all the coffee shops combined and all the days that they’ve been open. That’s a lot of coffee cups.

An individual who drinks at least one cup of coffee every day contributes at least 365 paper cups every year. Reduce this number to one by investing in a cup that’s built for infinite refills, one cup to do the work of hundreds. Behold, the mighty travel mug.

And like your loved ones, and unlike plain white paper cups (or even worse, the dreaded #RedStarbucksCups), travel mugs come in all varieties of color, shape and size. Handle. No handle. Any material. Ceramic, for the folks who forget about their coffee until it’s cold and need to nuke it. Metal or plastic for gravitationally challenged folks who have yet to fully grasp the art of holding onto things.

Color, design and prints are also solid opportunities to espress what makes that person special—their interests or favorite animals. Note: whatever words or images are printed on your loved one’s travel mug will be their constant companion, staring back at them every morning from across their desk, or warming their hands while they step outside for a coffee break, or whatever their morning ritual may be. So keep in mind, whatever message is embedded in the graphic of their travel mug better be something they’d like to look at.

And whatever you do, don’t get a travel mug from Starbucks.

Last year, I asked for travel mugs for Christmas, and my Mama faithfully delivered. She’s a huge supporter of artists on Etsy, so I picked out a few. Here they are in action:

Ceramic Travel Mugs by Bread & Badger

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D$ and $WAGZ rocking matching Bread&Badger Travel Mugz
D$ and $WAGZ rocking matching Bread&Badger Travel Mugz

My roommate was so inspired by the cuteness of my mugs she felt so moved to order a few of her own. Check out our matching travel mugs. Super adorbs.

Ceramic Travel Mugs by SewZinski

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PC D$

 

REUSABLE COFFEE SLEEVE

The reusable coffee sleeve goes hand in hand with your loved one’s new travel mug. However, if travel mugs are out of your price range, reusable coffee sleeves serve as a more affordable alternative. If a paper to-go cup must be used, at the very least, saving a sleeve every day makes a difference. Also, another opportunity to a) support an artist by buying one, or b) get crafty and sew your own.

 

LOOSE LEAF TEA INFUSER

Travel mugs and sleeves are not exclusively for coffee lovers. Tea drinkers are just as guilty of contributing wasted to-go cups as coffee fiends, but even worse, most tea bags are individually wrapped in what is ultimately garbage (non-recyclable wrapping). So take an extra step to convert your loved one to loose leaf tea.

Some tumblers are sold with built-in loose leaf tea infusers. Infusers are also sold individually, that are compatible with any cup. Each cup of loose leaf tea equates to one less wrapper, one less piece of trash.

 

LOOSE LEAF TEA

If you should decide to buy a loose leaf tea infuser for a loved one, you should consider pairing it with some loose leaf tea. Give them something yummy to steep in their new tea infuser.

 

REUSABLE GROCERY ACCESSORIES

I know, reusable grocery shopping bags are so last year. But two things on my shopping list this year are 1) reusable / washable produce bags to replace single-use plastic produce bags provided at the store, and 2) an assortment of reusable containers for buying groceries in bulk, and sparing the world some packaging, like these ones:

Illustration by Anna Kachelries instagram @annafaith___
Illustration by Anna Kachelries instagram @annafaith___

Maybe your loved ones won’t use your gifts. Or maybe they will. But in any case, you’re leaving the door ajar for someone to become a more sustainable, waste-conscious eating-shitting machine. Happy Fat Saturday, and Happy Holidays. Purchase responsibly.