Apr 7 2011

fast waste [day 315]

I love pretty much any condiment, mustard, ketchup, sour cream, grape jelly, salsa… you name it.  I’ve been referred to as the condiment queen.  This is a problem to me in the world of fast food.  There’s so much plastic and paper waste associated with it.  I looked up condiment packaging and found a few eco-friendly alternatives.  For me, this brings up a bigger question.  The word “ECO” is used a lot these days.  I’m glad people are coming up with eco-friendly options that are much better for the environment, but here’s my question.

Should we just be content with using products that are a little bit better for the environment or should we be trying to scale back our use of disposable products?

I’m trying to do both.  I’m not always successful as you can see in the photo, but those were given with my meal, not upon request, but just assumed I would eat them all.  I’ve cut way back on the fast food consumption over the past year.  Meals are supposed to be a time of fellowship and relaxation.  If my lifestyle needs fast food, I need to make some changes.

My ideas were validated a few days ago by the cost of fast food.  My 2 boys and I went to Sonic.  I’m usually all over the price shopping part of eating, but this day, I decided to let them order whatever they wanted.  They both ordered modestly, as did I.  Almost $18.00 spent and the kids were still hungry.  A few days later, we went to a sit-down restaurant.  This time it was me and the kids, but we brought a friend along as well.  Including ‘good’ food for all of us, one beer and one dessert, the total was around $35, including the tip.  There’s a price for all that packaging, not to mention the nutritional value of fast food.

Also, I’m not sure why, but the magic number of napkins seems to be 6.  Why do I need 6 napkins with a sandwich?  Do I look that messy?  If they give out 5 extra napkins per person, with an average customer count of 450 a day, that’s 2,250 napkins that go in a landfill.  And that’s just napkins.

I’m not saying I will never eat fast food again (although I’m leaning in that direction), but I will be doing it even less now.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat fast food either.  We should all be aware of the effects of it though.  There are times where the fast food meal is not a bad idea, but doing it regularly will cost you a lot of money, aid in destroying our earth and eventually will break your heart.

Aug 5 2010

vending machines [day 69]

I usually don’t allow my kids to use vending machines or candy machines.  25¢ for a piece of gum?  Let’s do the math.  For 89¢ I can get a 10 pack of these same gum balls, which is still a lot in my mind.  Anyway… I used a vending machine yesterday.  I paid $1.50 for a bottle of Fuze at the library.  I was going to be there for 4 hours, so it was probably a good plan.  The new blueberry-raspberry is awesome.  :)

I’ve been thinking about waste and convenience lately in the food realm.  We want faster and more convenient because our lifestyles demand it.  The one thing that bothers me about my fast food consumption is the waste that goes along with it.  Have you noticed the amount of trash generated by one meal?

Jimmy John’s ‘individually wrapped’ pickle, paper secured in place with a wrap-around sticker.  Notice the Starbucks coffee sleeve on the table.  I was away from home, which is the only time I do fast coffee, and I tried to hold the cup without the paper sleeve.  Not  good plan.  Whataburger has the best grilled chicken fast food sandwich, however they have the most waste.  Giant styrofoam cups, lots of paper and cardboard packaging all nicely placed into a very large plastic bag.  I also love Sonic’s happy hour, half priced route 44 diet limeade… in an oversized styrofoam cup, with a large plastic straw wrapped in paper.

Subway has a good plan with their kids meals.  They put them in reusable lunch bags.  These are great if you remember to bring it next time you get a meal or if you use them for the kids lunch box.

How could we incorporate green bags into the fast food world?

It would take the support of the major companies, but it could be done.  There are no laws in place aimed at encouraging retailers or restaurants recycle, reduce or reuse anything.

How can we modify our lives to be less wasteful this way?

I’m realizing that I eat way too much fast food, and at restaurants in general.  I’m scared to look at how much money I spend per month doing just that.  I could make time to cook more.  What do I cut out of my busy schedule?  What would a FF place do if I brought my own bags and cups?  Hmmm, I feel a challenge moment coming on here.

Here’s a few things I’m doing to save.  Not 100% of the time, but most of the time.  Do you do any of these?

  • Go inside, less fuel waste with the car idling.
  • Ask for no bag, or for everything to go in one bag.
  • My kids give back the toys in the kids meals if they don’t like them.
  • I make the kids split an adult meal because we are not there for toys.
  • Don’t order more than you will eat.

Now here’s a list of things I need to do:

  • Don’t use a straw unless necessary.
  • Try to eat at sit down restaurants when possible.
  • Bring my own ‘doggie box’ when I know there will be leftovers.
  • Support fast food places that recycle.
  • Support fast food places that are environmentally conscious.

Do you have more ideas?  Do share!