Monday, January 11, 2010

One Small Change: Greening Up Away from Home

While my family decides how best to approach our green resolution for the year (to figure out how to reach the "Hanukkah Standard"), it is really nice to have some little doable steps to take along the way. With a goal as complex and amorphous as ours, it seems especially important to be able to reach milestones along the path.

Hip Mountain Mama suggests that we all try to make one small change a month to work towards our goals. I've had a wonderful time reading through all the participants' ideas and can't wait to see how everyone fares this month. It looks like an inspiring community!

We've begun the month traveling an enormous amount. We've visited both sets of grandparents as well as attended a conference in a place which has a lot of history for both David and for me. But by Wednesday morning, we'll be back home with plans to stay there for the rest of the month.

In the past, we've often felt that we cannot make any real changes while we're away from home. As soon as we get home, we'll get started...

But on these trips, we've done a pretty good job at using our reusables, producing less garbage, and trying to do right by the planet. We haven't been perfect--but we've tried hard and are starting to build habits for our long trips.

1. We packed our Klean Kanteens and our reusable coffee mugs--and used them regularly. For coffee out, we've used our mugs for years. And for years we've carried our reusable water bottles for hiking and for outside festivals, etc. But on longer trips, we've never used our Klean Kanteens before.

For a family who drinks no soda at home, we have always managed to stack up a zillion Diet Coke bottles when we were on long drives. This year we were much better. We had water in our Klean Kanteens handy which we could replenish from the tap at rest stops. And David even filled up his Klean Kanteen with Diet Coke a couple of times when he was craving a cold caffiene hit.

2. We carried not only reusable bags with us but cloth napkins, cloth hankies (which came in handy when I came down with a cold), reusable cutlery as well as a sharp knife we bought along the way--and even a small box of stemless wineglasses which we used for our evening picnic date one evening in south Florida.

3. We brought snacks from home when we could--and acquired some snacks from grocery stores (like baby carrots and rice cakes) rather than gas stations on the highway. When we stopped at restaurants, we made sure they were locally-owned places instead of chains.

4. We carried a tiffin and a lunchbot with us so we could pack up leftovers in restaurants. Although we've talked for a long time about our need to make this change, we finally started doing it regularly and are committed to continuing the practice.

* * *

Our goal for the rest of the month is to continue these habits. Many of them are things we've done for a long time at home, but #4 is not a habit yet. Strangely, I think starting it while on a trip made it easier. Since we were in the car so much of the time, we always had the tiffin with us. When we're at home in Takoma Park, our car is far less convenient as a storage spot.

David takes a filled tiffin (and the car) to work with him most days. But our 10yo homeschooled son and I explore DC on foot and using public transportation. It is not uncommon for us to have a violin and a fencing bag with us--as well as all the books and knitting projects that have to accompany at all times in case I get a free moment. Without really planning ahead of time, the containers (shamefully including my coffee mug!) just don't make it out of the house with us. But from now on, I'm committing to making that plan. I'll update you at the end of the month to let you know how things go.

We are already looking forward to February's changes!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

yes, its the small things, the everyday things that count!

We always traveled with a thermos of coffee (and now its likely to be iced coffee, but a good thermos is a smart idea)

at work, i keep a set of cutlery--no plastic knives or forks --

I confess i use plastic 'tiffens'--but i am slowly evolving to stainless steel ones (but you can't use those in mircowave, and i love hot oatmeal!)

I know i can do more, (and resolve to!)


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