Sunday, March 20, 2011

To Waste or Not to Waste

Sometimes I'll just randomly browse the web, and when doing so I'll often find, amongst the dreck, a blog that looks a little interesting. If I stop to look around, it's usually going to be the post at the top of the page that gets my attention first (that's why it's always a good idea to have something good, or at least eye-catching, at the top of your blog). Today I found a "green" blog, and though I'm not against greenness in moderation, I recoil at fanaticism (with the exception of fanatics for liberty, I love those) and the kind of policing of everyone that doesn't automatically comply that often goes with it.

Still, I'm also not opposed to saving money, and there is no question that there are ways that make being green (or greener) that can go toward easing the strain on the old pocketbook.

One way I save money already is to take my lunch to work. It's much less expensive, especially if you shop carefully, to buy your own food and brown (or these days, plastic-supermarket) bag it, then it is to go somewhere and buy your lunch. We only have a few places close to work, one of them being the ubiquitous McDonalds, and it adds up if you try and eat that way every day. I see people do it anyway, and think of the cash they're throwing away. For myself, every dollar counts right now, and though I like the thrill of opening up a hot bag of fast food fresh from the drive-thru as much as anyone, I can't afford it, wallet-wise or waist-wise.

So, most days I take my lunch. Here's where we get into the saving part and the lunch part from the blog I found today. I like to use those Ziploc bags for putting my various lunch items in, including fresh fruit, such as apples. I probably go through too many of the bags, but I can buy a large amount of a generic version without it costing a lot. Of course I'll take sandwiches, too, and those also need bagging. Another thing I love are little individually packaged items, like small apple sauces. They help with calorie control, as well as being convenient.

Here's what the parent at Your Greener Future said upon seeing lunch-time "waste" at her son's school:

I have to say though that what I see there around lunchtime is devastating: most kids are generating a big amount of waste, as their caregivers pack their food in in single-use plastic bags, aluminum foil, or wax paper, or they purchase single-serving items that come in their own disposable package.-Waste-Free Lunches

I wouldn't call what she observed "devastating", more like a miracle of the free market (to the extent that it's free, another topic). All the things she mentions are the signs of a prosperous society, one in which people are free to use as much plastic wrap, wax paper (got to get me some more of that) and aluminum foil as one pleases (or can afford). As for those single serving items, that could actually save money (and certainly time) by avoiding the waste that comes with food spoiling. I might end up throwing out a large jar of apple sauce that I use for portioning out for lunch, but I'll most likely use all of the individual servings of the same thing, especially if they have a shelf life of months or years when unopened. Be that as it may, she makes some good points. I'm using more reusable containers for my veggies (I like to take things like carrots and right now I'm particularity fond of celery sticks with peanut butter or cream cheese spread on them) and I could do it for other things, too, if I felt like it. We have to consider all waste that comes with our choices, however. What about the water wasted when you have to clean those reusables after each use? Plus dish soap, electricity if you're using a dishwasher, etc. Certainly those are used in the production of disposable containers, as well, but not so much, I would guess, on a per use basis.

She mentions landfills, too, but I believe that problem has also been blown out of proportion. A real free market would either provide the necessary solutions to growing waste from a growing population, or make excessive wastefulness itself prohibitively expensive.

Meanwhile, I need some more peanut butter for my celery. I'm thinking of trying out those little individually packaged peanut butter portions. They look just the right size for dipping my celery in!

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