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People say they love spring because everything turns green overnight. This spring, I turned light green overnight, and the next day, confused my husband with my advocacy at Wal-Mart.
He asked if I’d like to add a case of bottled water to our shopping cart, and I wanted to answer quicker than I could get the words out. At that moment I decided purchasing bottled water – those 24 bottles, specifically – would pollute the earth. Immediately.
One minute, I’m strategically navigating the aisles in search of low-fat salty snacks (p.s. they don’t exist) and the next, I’m mentally writing a letter of apology to my future grandchildren about my poor decision-making one Sunday afternoon in 2008 which ultimately ruined the planet.
Call it peer pressure, but everywhere I look I see celebrities touting “green” products, corporations bragging about their strides to protect the environment and television characters carrying designer canvas bags of groceries in an attempt to blend environmentally friendly habits into TV story lines.
For years I’ve heard the opposite, but these days, people say it’s easy being green.
The only problem? Being green takes lots of green.
Sure, I’d love to pilot a hybrid similar to my Ford, wear designer blue jeans made of recycled two-liter bottles, burn soy-based candles and commit to eating only organic foods. I might even bike from Pewee Valley to La Grange to work if I had three hours to spare every morning.
But for now, the best I can do (and afford) is recycling everything possible, even my blue jeans.
Earlier this year as I assembled layers for two pans of semi-homemade lasagna, I noticed the counter covered with jars of pasta sauce, a carton of egg substitute, jars of Italian spices, cardboard boxes of noodles, plastic tubs of cheese and cans of diced tomatoes. I realized the garbage from those ingredients alone would fill our trash can.
Oprah calls this an “Aha!” moment, but Oprah also probably employs several people to recycle and compost at her houses.
Eyeing the remnants of that meal, I decided I’d wash and re-use those plastic food containers before they left our house, and my husband added a recycling bin to our laundry room.
Now if there’s an abundance of anything in our home, it’s Tupperware, existing under several aliases – Gladware, Rubbermaid, Take-Alongs, Zip-Loc. In fact, we don’t own anything from the Tupperware-brand line. But in recent months our collection has grown with a variety of containers labeled low-fat cottage cheese, Cool Whip, ricotta cheese, etc., with the plan to use containers twice before they hit the recycling bin.
Since then, I’ve noticed a huge difference. The Tupperware designed for repeated use usually stays at home and I carry leftovers to work in Cool Whip containers. Our big blue can outside has less garbage every day, and inside, we’re running out of space for our recyclables.
And much like when I changed my eating habits a few years back, my only regret is I waited so long to make a change.
I haven’t switched to a household of “green” products – I simply changed what happens to items when I no longer have use for them.
After several weeks of serious recycling, my light-green lifestyle and plan to reduce, reuse and recycle didn’t let me down until Friday. As I put the finishing touches on a Mexican chicken pastry dish, I reached into the fridge and popped the top of a sour cream container only to find it stuffed with green beans.
Seems fitting, right?
I view the green beans as a reminder to add a permanent marker to our Tupperware cabinet for labeling containers. Maybe I’ll find one made from recycled materials near the soy-based candles.
The views expressed in this column may not necessarily represent the views of The Oldham Era.