I’ve got a confession to make. I’m not the Greenest person in the world. Wait! Before you strap me to the back of a wild orca, or string me up a Redwood tree, hear me out—please. I’m not that bad. I haven’t cashed any kickbacks from ExxonMobil or Dow. I recycle, I carpool, and I (usually) walk my boys to and from school each day. I live in Eugene, Oregon for goodness’ sake, a haven for organic, natural fiber, tree-hugging types. You can get publicly flogged for tossing compostable foods into a trash can here. So what’s my environmental atrocity? I’m a stay-at-home-dad who needs to prepare two reasonably healthy lunches every weekday morning before 8 a.m., and I’m not a morning person.
Still doesn’t sound so deplorable? Well, it started years ago while I was working evening shifts at a local newspaper. I simply wasn’t getting enough sleep, and it slowly became harder and harder to perform my morning chores as a walking, slit-eyed zombie. My wife would wake the boys and set them up with a cereal/oatmeal/bagel-type breakfast before placing a cup of strong, black coffee on my night-table, shoving me (hard) and slingshot-ing herself off to work. I would often stay in bed until the last possible second when I would force myself upright, slurp down one, then two cups of java and frantically prepare my sons for school. In this weakest of possible conditions, I abandoned good sense and succumbed—to individually packaged, grab-and-go food items. Yes, I really should have known better, but (please forgive me) my boys just gobbled those fruit cups, yogurt tubes and energy bars right up. The worst part? I don’t work the night-job anymore, yet I still (occasionally) ignore my want-to-be-Green conscience and opt for convenience. This is an inexcusable exercise in poor judgment, but there are no two ways about it—“it’s not that easy being Green.”
In 2008, U.S. residents, businesses and institutions produced 250 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), commonly referred to as “trash.” This amounts to about 4.5 pounds of waste per person per day. We recycled and composted 83 million of the 250 million tons. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that residential waste (you and me) accounted for 55-65% of the total MSW generation. Containers and packaging made up nearly 31% of the 250 million tons. Only two manmade structures on Earth are large enough to be seen from outer space: the Great Wall of China and the Fresh Kills landfill.
So, should I hang my head and skulk around with a Scarlet Letter sewn to my guilty conscience? Yes, in all honesty I probably should, but we at Lunchsense like to view the Green Movement as just that—a movement; a progression from a toxic, yellowish-neon shade to the deepest emerald hue. Clearly, you can’t plot me on this Green graph next to Ed Begley Jr., but by recognizing and addressing my own waste problem, I am heading his way. Rather than dodging the Green Police and fretting over whether I’m “Green” or not, I’m simply accepting the continuum and trying to become Green-er. Now (thanks to Nancy), I utilize reusable containers much more frequently, and I also buy bulk when I can. There are a number of tasty items available in this under-appreciated section of the supermarket. And remember–you can buy as much or as little as you need. Ask yourself how you can limit the amount of waste you produce each day and share your own confessions/suggestions with us. By increasing our awareness and making the most of our Lunchsense, we can all grow Greener each day.