While out for my monthly moms’ night out last week, I was disturbed by my own request for more salad dressing. With 1/3 of my lettuce remaining, I could have easily gone without. Before I thought better of it though, my extra dollop arrived in a plastic ramekin on a side plate with a paper doily for pretty presentation. Instead of enjoying the rest of my salad, I felt guilty knowing what Mother Earth had gone through to satisfy my need for a mere ounce of strawberry vinaigrette.
Being green is more difficult when you’re on the go, isn’t it? As my mom used to say, one of the hardest things in life is learning to just say no. Here are some of my new no’s for on the go:
Say no to receipts for things I would never take back
I use debit for almost everything and my purchases show up on my electronic bank statement. I’m not going to take back gas, or my daughter’s haircut, or the new crown on my dead tooth, so why do I need a receipt?
Say no to plastic bags for produce
I need five apples, four pears, and a bunch of bananas. Do I need three plastic bags as well? No. The clerk may get annoyed, and she will have to touch my fruit, but so did the teenager who stocked it and I’m planning on washing it well.
Say no to paper bags for baked goods
How far does that cookie have to go? I think I can manage to hold it in my hands for that second or two before my little monster eats it. Yesterday when I did this, the store manager gave me two free coffees. Admittedly, coffee on the go is one of my most wasteful habits. To do my part I now look for sweetener pumps and say no to stir sticks and cozies.
Say no to bags for clothes
If I’m taking my new jeans and T-shirt right to the car (actually I’m probably on foot and have a storage basket in the stroller) surely I can manage without a bag. I know people aren’t refusing bags often enough, because the clerk looked at me as if I was a thief the other day when I stuffed my new bikini into my small purse.
Say no to fast food toys
Gasp. We do take the kids out for fast food about once a month, mostly for the indoor playground. They are young enough that they don’t yet expect a toy with their junk meal. What I’ve learned about saying no to fake plastic toys is that you have to be stern with the clerk, because he or she will push the toy and make you look mean in front of your kids for not taking one. We don’t need a cute paper bag for each child’s meal either, thanks.
Say no to library slips
We reserve, renew, and check upcoming due dates online, yet I still come home with an arm length of paper every two weeks to remind me which library books I have out. Before our librarian presses the button on her computer I need to remember to say, “I don’t need a receipt. I use the online service.”
Sometimes writing things down helps me keep green habits going. How do you stay green on the go?
Related Posts about Staying Green on the Go:
- May I have a Side of Food with my Plastic?
- Back to School: Keeping Lunch Green
- Green Your Next Seminar
- A Perilous Walk in a Plastic World
Image: lodigs on flikr under a Creative Commons License
[This post was written by Tara Benwell.]
Great ideas! I think I practice most of these. Unfortunately, most registers automatically print out receipts (grrr). And shopping bags are an important marketing tool for stores and companies, so don’t be surprised if you face some resistance from store clerks!
I wish there were an organization focused on getting companies to reduce their packaging waste. I tend to order stuff online, and I’m always awed and saddened by the excess of packaging materials. And baby clothes… seriously, those hangers are such a waste and a lot of the clothes come with multiple tags (one with the price, one with the company logo, one with something about the product line…). Then there are the stickers and tissue paper. Ugh.
Oh…I feel your pain on the automatic printing of receipts. Since drafting this post I’ve been doing much better at remembering to say “no receipt please”. More often than not the clerk prints the receipt anyway and crumples it up in her garbage. Then I wonder…are those receipts recycled? Maybe I’m better to just take it home with me and put it in with the papers. I guess I’ll have to watch where the automatic ones are located. Techonlogy is so sophisticated there’s got to be a no print option! My ice cream man asked me if I needed a receipt and he didn’t print one.