Today I have a guest post from Random Charlotte, a lover of the environment stationed in the lovely Carolinas! Her blog focuses on how small acts can make a big difference using a humorous, light-hearted spin. Check out her site to learn about environmentally friendly cleaning products, reducing junk mail and fuel usage, the benefits of researching before purchasing, and other earth lovin’ ideas! Her article about leftovers as featured in July’s edition of Planetsave:
So there is this new trendy craze going around, some wacky environmental idea about saving the planet. And I must be honest even though I am not trendy at all; I have jumped on this band wagon. I want to help save our planet (and I want to talk like a super hero and wear a cape) but I also have some selfish reasons for joining this cause, mostly because I do not want to breathe in smog or drink toxic water. I know call me crazy, most do so I am used to it. The thing is though I am still “on the grid”, just can’t seem to get off it, which means no solar panels for this girl (unless someone wants to give me some, haha I kid, no I don’t). So how can I save the planet without solar panels? After my son was born, saving the planet (and wearing capes) became even more important to me, so I started thinking (not too scary) about ways that I can help as an individual and ways that my family can join in too. So it must be noted for the record that we are not starving but we are far from wealthy (at least by Western standards), so for me that meant looking for ideas to help save the planet that did not put any additional strain on our bank account. What I have found is that most forms of environmental stewardship actually help the wallet rather than hurting it. And this is the conclusion I have come to that the small acts of environmentalism do count and if we can get enough people to join in, these small acts create big change.
One of the small acts that this family does is love our leftovers. What the heck am I talking about? Well it is quite simple really. There are many green benefits when we respect our leftovers. We use fewer resources and we gain some health benefits because it means we eat smaller portions. But going one step further is where we put out leftovers. And that is where Leftover Love comes into play. Leftover Love is an initiative that is simple, when you go out to eat, take your own reusable container with you. That way you are not forced to take a disposable doggy bag container, especially styrofoam, that the restaurant provides. Now we are going to ignore just for a second the fact that eating out actually increases our carbon footprint. Because I get that we are not going to change the habits of everyone, really that is not how change occurs. And even I enjoy not having to make dinner and clean up afterwards (the cleanup is the worst since I have this tendency to burn everything I make) every once in a while. But if we can alter our habits just slightly then we will produce something great. We can reduce waste by putting forth a little effort and using our own containers to take home out leftovers. Think of this idea the same way you think about taking your own grocery bag when you go grocery shopping. It is essentially the same thing; just replace the bag with a reusable container and the grocery store with a restaurant. Now for all of those of you that are in the clean plate club you can stop reading. But for the rest of us who generally have something leftovers then it should be perfect for you. Now the very core of this concept is based around the individual. But what if we were to expand it so that restaurants offered incentives, such as a percentage off your bill or a free dessert, if you brought in your own container. Think how many disposable doggy bags we could keep put of the landfills? And think about how many free desserts I could eat?
Really this is a win/win for all parties. Restaurants save money on having to buy disposable containers. And maybe, just maybe, those cost savings would show up on the menu one day. But let me not get ahead of myself here. You can keep those nasty petrochemicals off your food, yay that is good right. And the most obvious is that you keep a bunch of waste from going into the landfill. Now it needs to be clear that this initiative only works for those patrons who dine in the restaurant. There are some pesky health code laws that get in the way of applying this to take out and even to fast food chains. But if you eat in, and have some leftovers on your plate and need a doggy bag, use your own. It is too easy to not do this, and honestly I am not quite sure why it has not caught on, as the grocery bag idea did. As I have said before if we can get enough people to do this think of the awesome green benefits that we could produce. The styrofoam doggy bag company may argue, but you can’t please everyone.
We have to remember that most people on this planet go to bed hungry. And we need to appreciate what we have and respect the food enough to not put any leftovers in to disposable doggy bags. I know that taking your leftovers home in your own doggy bag will not feed the planet. But every step and action we take towards protecting the planet helps get a little bit closer to becoming more sustainable and helping more people go to bed at night with a full belly. We have to remember that not everything has to be easy and convenient, which is what is promised to us through a disposable lifestyle. But small actions can add up to big change if we all help.
- Doggy Bag – How to say “doggy bag” in French? + Happy Anniversary! (french-word-a-day.typepad.com)
- The Doggie Bag (hastac.org)
- Do almost half your groceries go in the trash? (mnn.com)