A New York Times article today,The (Possible) Perils of Being Thirsty While Being Green, caught my attention since it brought up the issue of reusing plastic water bottles. That’s soooo yesterday. We haven’t re-used plastic water bottles in years, mostly because of the massive over distribution of scary literature by one of the moms at our preschool a few years ago.
I realize not everyone has had the bejesus scared out of them by another mom, so this article is worth a read. Like many green issues regarding toxins in everyday items, avoiding reusing any plastic water bottles seems like the best course, since selecting the ones that can be reused seems to take excessive amounts of time and research. Buying a few stainless steel bottles available here and here and at many sporting goods stores, seems like a better choice.
The food issue however, looms larger in my house as I pack a lunch each day and worry about both saving the planet and exposing my child to toxins. Some days I am absolutely appalled by the amount of paper and plastic waste I generate tenderly packing natural, organic, healthy food for my offspring in his politically correct lunch box.
Paper, in most cases is recyclable; assuming it ends up in the recycling bin and not in the trash can at school. Plastic however is not and ends up in landfills.
And so I’ve begun to switch to better choices. Rather than tiny zippered plastic bags I’ve switched to old fashioned, natural wax paper. Just like my mom used to use! Both waxed paper and waxed paper bags can be composted and degrade quickly.
After reading about the importance of a natural versus petroleum based coating though I’m careful about the brand that I buy. Bags made with a petroleum based coating, like plastic are not biodegradable. Waxed paper and paper bags coated with paraffin are a better option. Natural Value, both paraffin coated and widely available at health food stores, is the brand I buy. I’m a sucker for convenience.
I’ve also started what I call “medieval wrapping. That is, I wrap sandwiches and other larger lunch items in a cloth napkin. I buy these by the dozen at discount stores and have been using them instead of paper napkins at mealtimes for a few years. Now I use them for packing lunches too.
Since they are inexpensive, come in a variety of colors and patterns and can be thrown in the washer after use, they make a great, cheap alternative to zipper bags for sandwiches, whole fruit, cookies and even larger, less crumbly snacks. Though for some items a rubber band or even a fancy ribbon or string is recommended to keep food contained in the napkin and not scattered across the lunch table.
Acting green often requires acting retro…often a fun endeavor!