February 26, 2015

Zero Waste Roadtrip & Reflections on Cheap, Fast Food

I know what you're probably thinking--that's an oxymoron! How do you have a zero waste roadtrip when driving emits so many carbon emissions? Right. You're absolutely right. You can't, but you can try to pack and prepare in such a way that you're eliminating trashcan waste along the way.
Tim and I were traveling to Pennsylvania last weekend--he was providing leadership at a retreat and I went to see my Best Fried Marian. I packed some homemade bread that we had made, 3 apples, carrots, and peanut butter. The apples and carrots were both bought in bulk and I only had to deal with produce stickers on the apples. The peanut butter was purchased pre-Lent and I am finishing it up. I am also transitioning to zero waste containers. The plastic bag is being re-used--it has already been used a couple times and washed out. And my roommate and I save all of our plastic containers for leftovers.
 My family is full of awesome, committed canners. I hope to be just like them some day! I packed some craisins in a jar, and for giggles I packed some pickles, and beets. I ate the craisins, but never had a chance to open up the beets or pickles. They probably weren't the best roadtrip food, unless we were going to stop out and have a picnic, which I have done on numerous occasions in the summer!
 I packed everything in re-usable cloth bags. I also packed some silverware (in the wrapped napkin) and some cloth napkins to use along the way.
 Tim and I did stop to eat at Panera, because they are pretty fast and minimal waste. I didn't have a chance to refuse the napkin and forgot that my sandwich comes on a little piece of cardboard. I inspected them both and figured I should be able to compost the cardboard and the napkins.

I also packed my mason jar and lid for water, so that I could refill it for free at gas stations along the way. Tim stopped in at a Subway for one of his meals and I was going to fill up my jar, but they didn't have water in the drink machine. WHAT? I looked and looked and nope, no water in the drink machine. I would have filled it up in the bathroom if we had a lot more to travel, but we were pretty close to Tim's destination, so I waited until we got there.

As we passed fast food upon fast food place, I kept thinking about the burgers in cardboard boxes, the fries in little bags, the sodas in disposable cups, and the individually wrapped straws. Fast food is fast...and cheap. It's hard for me to find fault with those who rely on cheap (often bad and unhealthy food) to feed their families or themselves.
Disposable Fast Food found on Living Responsibly

Part of my trip, I was alone and listened to a podcast called Homegrown Christianity, that was focusing on eco-theology. They had four hour long podcasts with those practicing and advocating for eco-theology: Matthew Sleeth, Jen Butler, Randy Woodley, and Leah Kostamo. They asked each participant the same rapid-fire questions at the end of the podcast and one was: "Should Christians buy cage-free eggs?" The answers varied. Sleeth responded, "Yes, and they should have had a massage and at least a third grade education." However, Woodley and Butler were quick to say, "Yes and No" pointing out the financial disparities among Christians and the availability of this kind of food. I agreed with them. Yes, I want to advocate for healthy chickens and healthy people, but I realize that all of this is a journey and a process...and I can't fault a Mama for buying the eggs that are $2 cheaper and nestled in styrafoam. It's ugly and hypocritical for me to do so.
Happy Chickens from Minimac Farm

I'm doing this Lenten project because I want to see how I can make Zero Waste sustainable in my own life, which means taking into account accessibility and financial costs. I want to be Zero Waste, but I also want to pay my rent! We live in a cheap, fast, disposable world and I want that to change. Let's make this possible and accessible for all.


  1. So awesome! I would like to try zero waste myself, as it seems like a happier and healthier way to live.