The key to reducing waste and consumption is to …well.. reduce waste and consumption. And generally that sounds like it might be about a whole heap of planning and organising – a bit of an onerous task. The reality is that it requires both organisation and time, but makes me feel generally more on top of things for the week and is totally worth it.
I’m really enjoying The Simple Home by Rhonda Hetzel and you know I’ve already skipped ahead and read until June, but it’s great to have these month by month books to read to remind you of the schedules and systems to set up during the course of a year, rather than meeting the world of chaos with your own brand of it, through a lack of organisation.
In The Simple Home, Rhonda reminds me to have a look at my schedule on an annual, monthly or weekly basis and see if my auto-pilot routines are working for me and my family. In fact, with every new activity or event in your family, taking a look at your regular routines is a fabulous way of ensuring that your go-to routines are working.
Transitioning to low waste is a very good reason to take a look at our routines. Like how what I buy for the kids for their lunches, how it needs to be stored and how they will transport them to school.
Same applies to my lunch.
So we all now have colour coordinated lunch boxes that we take each day. One colour for each child (sandwich, fruit and snack boxes) so I can tell who is leaving their containers at school…. That’s how I solved the plastic container mystery that has plagued me for a decade…..
These containers are fine for now and BPA free and when I can afford it, I’ll replace these with stainless steel, compartmentalised lunch boxes. In the meantime, my lunchtime routines for all of us are to:
- Do a weekend cook up of our lunch mains. This could involve baking bread and making a whole heap of sandwiches, to bacon and egg cups, pizza scrolls or today – using up some leftovers, I made Asian steamed pork and egg ramekins that I can now take for the three days I am working this week. Last night’s leftovers also make awesome lunches for the next day and I pack them straight after dinner.
- I take my own utensils to work. For two reasons – there are never any forks in the work kitchen drawer ever! I could do a PhD on this – every workplace I have ever been to always has heaps of knives and spoons, but the forks seem to be the first to disappear – I wouldn’t be surprised if a small sample of 100 working households had a hodgepodge of mismatching forks in the utensil drawer……Secondly – I can wash it and reuse it the next day.
- I take a napkin, so as not to use the disposable paper towels.
- I take a piece of fruit and some nuts and these are contained in my neoprene lunch container which is where I put all of my empty containers home for a wash.
- I have a stainless steel canteen 1 litre drink bottle which I refill with water – keeps it yummy and cool. The kids too have water bottles and they know my deal if we are out and about shopping or at a function – I won’t be buying them a soft drink or bottled water (grrrr) – they need to carry their drink bottles with them too.
- Finally, I take a keepcup for my coffee in the mornings and this has been such an easy thing to incorporate into my work low waste routine because I leave it in the workplace and just wash it out each day.
For the kids, one of my teenager daughters loves to bake, so she bakes a little sweet biscuit or cake each weekend for the lunches (the upsides of having kids who like to be independent).
In terms of organisation – it does mean that I use a little bit of time each weekend to prepare, but then each morning it’s a quick grab and go kind of affair to get ready for work or school in the morning with no kids moaning about there being nothing to eat for lunch.
The areas that I am looking to reduce waste are my husband’s sandwiches, which he makes each weekend and freezes, but then pops into snaplock bags – I have to find him a better low waste alternative.
The last low waste thing I think about in the workplace is printing reading materials. I have just purchased a laptop that doubles as a tablet (my old lap top was on its last legs – particularly after I dropped it on the slate floor……will need to think of a low waste disposal for it..) so I am trying to bring my laptop to work to reduce the need to print out material for meetings. As a result I have the cleanest desk I have ever had in my working life… but there is still room for improvement.
Now you may be wondering why the picture accompanying this post is one of six small cabin-sized suitcases…….WELL…..We are taking the whole family to Europe for the next month! Eeekk! We are very excited. And we are only taking cabin luggage, to simplify our experience. I’ll let you know on our return how that little experiment goes. One of the upsides of having a simple life and not consuming so much is that we have been able to save for an amazing four-week trip to Italy, Switzerland and France. I’m beside myself, so are the kids and it is just so wonderful to be able to offer the children an amazing, once in a lifetime experience, rather than – say – a new family car. The old one will do just fine for a while longer and in the meantime, I’ll have a glass of Italian wine in Florence for you all…Ciao.