Yesterday I had this great idea that we should celebrate Earth Day by going on a picnic. But of course it was a last-minute idea, and we didn't actually have picnic stuff with us. So I came up with this great idea of how we could go to the store and challenge the kids to put together a picnic with as little waste as possible (i.e. no Lunchables). And then church happened, and a meeting, and it was 1:00. We still had to go to the Farmer's Market before nap, too. So we called an audible. James and I had been talking a LOT about how we've slipped back into lazy eating habits, and after I showed him some of the stuff I've been reading about fast food and processed food, he felt the same conviction I did. So we told the kids what we'd been talking about, and it wasn't news to them because we've been talking about this with them for years. They're both trained to eat healthy, but when I get busy or lazy I don't offer them healthy food. Isn't that crappy? So, they were on board. We told them that we'd have one last fast food meal, and from now on fast food would be a treat when they were out with friends or Grandma, but it will no longer be a choice for our family. Noble chose McDonald's, Kayci chose Sonic, and Daddy and I enjoyed some extra-nasty Taco Bell. We both got the large drink that came with our meals, but neither of us drank them--it was only the 2nd soft drink I'd had since Lent, and I just don't care for them anymore. I'm grateful I no longer crave them!
The kids and I have been talking quite a bit about what we can do to reduce waste. We cut out paper plates (for the most part) last year, so we had to dig a little deeper this time. One of the things that drives me crazy is plastic grocery bags...I try to use reusable bags, but sometimes I forget or don't take enough, and I don't have produce bags. So, on Saturday Kayci and I went shopping for those little mesh lingerie bags to use for produce bags, which will reduce most of our plastic bag consumption. We have been recycling the grocery store bags as trash bags in our bedroom & bathroom trash cans, but I realized the other day that they're unnecessary...if the trash cans get dirty, I can just bleach them--one's plastic, one's metal. That was kind of a "duh." And the kids can still share the responsibility on trash day if one empties the bathroom and one empties the bedroom, and both take care of their own trash cans, as well. (Up until now one of them has taken the bags of trash out, one of them has put clean bags in.)
So, that took care of plastic bags. But there's still something we use a looooooooooooot of: paper towels and napkins. This is a change I've been resisting for years, but at the rate we're going through paper napkins, I'm surprised the rain forest hasn't shown up on our doorstep begging for mercy. So, I pulled out some small towels we can use as cloth napkins until I am able to buy some (I'm updating this post on day 3, so I'm happy to say that's been going well!). The kids haven't made a peep, which I find interesting.
As for the paper towels, I have a TON of dish towels, and a couple of varieties of the Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday kind. So, I moved the paper towel dispenser to the laundry room (closet, actually, and we'll still use paper towels for nasty stuff!) and pulled out a basket to keep dish towels handy on the counter. Again, so far this has gone well...I'll just throw these in the laundry as needed. DaddyBoy is the only one who's hit a snag with this one, but I fixed it by keeping a clean dish rag in the sink. I think the key to all of this is keeping clean towels/cloths/rags handy...but we'll see.
So far, so good. We've had no-waste lunches all 3 days this week, and I've been very mindful of waste as I've done our grocery shopping. We've already cut out most single-serving foods and drinks (although I do keep a bunch of drink pouches/boxes out in the shed fridge...not sure if we'll continue that or not, so far this week we haven't used any, we've been drinking juice out of cups, even on the go). A couple of years ago we started keeping water in the fridge in straw cups, and that cut down on tons of bottles used and also washing a cup every time someone wants a sip (maddening). The key to that is keeping the straw cups clean...I run them through a bleach solution every week or so.
So, that's how we're working on reducing our waste/consumption. You'll be proud of me--I haven't made paper banners for Kayci's STAAR testing days this week, either--I've used real items from around the house and just a little bit of paper! :)