At my weekly Pretty Coffee gathering yesterday, the talk turned to reducing the amount of plastic and other disposable items we all use.  Follow me below the dingledoodle squigglie dKosagnocchi dividerthingie fold after a word from our sponsor...

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As I've written about earlier, shortly under a year ago, I swore off using disposable coffee cups or grocery bags. While I do get caught without mug, or cloth bags (or occasionally ::blush:: both), for the most part I'm pretty proud of how much waste I'm NOT generating. Everyone in Casa Brillig has a reusable water bottle, and we try to lower our use of disposables even further by reusing single-serving gatorade bottles. Why such a specific item, you wonder? Well, during swim meet weekends we easily go through 6 or 8 bottles, so what we now do is buy large containers and refill each night.

When both kids started camp last summer I took a look at the "one lunch two snacks" packing guideline and realized we were going to go through a landfill's worth of plastic bags in 6 short weeks. We settled on two alternatives, which I shared with my friends yesterday:

Lunchskins: These are wonderful bags in sandwich and snack size, made of thick cotton fabric coated with food-safe polyurethane. Mr. Brillig first found them in the local natural foods store, but we've since spotted them at Target. The sandwich bag fits our homemade bread nicely, and the snack size is perfect for what my kids eat. Given K1 brings a sandwich to school every day and K2 at least once or twice a week, we've NOT used at least 150 bags for sandwiches alone. Add Cheez-Its, cookies, pretzels, Snap-Pea Crisps and gorp, and we've probably saved another few hundred. We're still using the original four bags, by the way, and have added a few more over the months to cover the "oops I forgot to clean out my lunch bag last nite" moments.

As a nice side benefit, the company is actively green and has this on their website: "Here are a few of the steps we are taking to reduce the carbon footprint of our company: we are primarily paper-free with the majority of bills and business conducted online, we use minimal packaging made from recycled materials in our shipments, we print all promotional materials on recycled materials at a local printing company, we use compact fluorescent bulbs and low flow faucets, and we bike to our office or work from home."

Lunch can not survive using bags alone, especially when K2 loves taking salads and both kids like strawberries and other crushable snacks! Enter LunchBlox, a modular set of containers that are purchased either as "salad" "sandwich" or "entree" kids. They've got multiple sized reusable containers that snap to each other as well as to an integrated ice pack, a huge plus when packing kid lunches hoping the ice stays somewhere near the food needing to be chilled! While it doesn't work exactly as advertised (the "blox" attach firmly to the ice pack but less well to each other), the kids both have used them lots and nobody has minded the small technical issues. It works well when they bring berries, cheese, or other things that you want NOT to get squished or to dribble all over your lunch bag.

A variety of other 'bento-box' options to avoid disposable packaging came up in conversation, including BentoWare. As we were finishing up, one person mentioned "but what do you do about plastic wraps/bags at home, what can we use for that?" We generally use reusable containers for leftovers, but everything from cheese to cut onions/lemons/etc often gets a plastic wrap or bag.

I remembered something I'd seen flash by my Facebook feed about a green alternative: beeswax-coated cotton wraps. They're only good for things that stay cold, but that's a large part of our plastic use... heating things in the microwave is another, but I am trying to remember to use waxed paper instead! I haven't tried the beeswax wraps yet, but it looks like a fun project and may be on our schedule over the upcoming February School Vacation Week here in MA. For those who don't want to make their own, one commercial source is Abeego.

What do you use to minimize the amount of lunch/food packaging trash generated? Please share your best ideas here, so we all reuse them!

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Top Mojo for yesterday, February 4th, first comments and tip jars excluded. Thank you mik for the mojo magic! For those of you interested in How Top Mojo Works, please see his diary FAQing Top Mojo.
  1) the Orange Army always fights the good fight! by TrueBlueMajority — 225
  2) Wow, GoGo, someone pissed in your cornflakes by Black Max — 158
  3) Finally....  Forward-looking ideas! by sp0t — 142
  4) thanks Black Max by TrueBlueMajority — 139
  5) I want by Iberian — 120
  6) I think much of this new version of by bevenro — 118
  7) The news article was very well done and provided by jan4insight — 108
  8) it was just a mistake by TrueBlueMajority — 101
  9) wonderful update by Cedwyn — 100
10) This is what I had hoped the first stimulus would by Love Me Slender — 94
11) There are many aspects that distress me by elfling — 94
12) Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! by WarrenS — 93
13) I am so happy.  That poor child. by Drdemocrat — 89
14) HR & "The Protocols" slur are out of line by FishOutofWater — 85
15) this is DK at its best. here for you and your by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse — 82
16) Popcorn time! by Lefty Coaster — 81
17) I agree with you that contemporary lobby by The Troubadour — 79
18) As you're well aware ... by A Siegel — 79
19) I think it is a safe by Pirogue — 78
20) Retweet or tweet similar by jpmassar — 77
21) True, Christian Fundies are part of the problem. by too many people — 76
22) I know it, TBM. I've seen you around here by Black Max — 72
23) This was a really difficult diary to read by BoiseBlue — 70
24) I think you hit the nail on the head... by Ian S — 69
25) My father would have answered that question and by commonmass — 69
26) Ed Markey needs to take this race seriously by Jeff Y — 68
27) Thanks Harry, they couldn't have done it without U by absdoggy — 67
28) I gotta hand it Rove. He's got some brass. by mdmslle — 67
29) Would be nice to win 3 elections in a row... by MJB — 67
30) a very important and well done diary by isabelle hayes — 65

Top Pooties Pictures for yesterday, February 4th.  Click any image to be taken to the full comment. Thank you jotter for the image magic!
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