When you decide to get ecocentric, you start to notice all of the many ways you are participating in a disposable society, each and every day. You can’t help but cringe when you see shopping carts loaded down with dozens of plastic bags, styrofoam and paper coffee cups and plastic cutlery-all thrown out after only one use, overpackaging of products and food, often not recyclable. So many day to day activities-from shopping to eating-become filled with inner conflict as you attempt to make the best choices for yourself and the environment. Sometimes it feels like you aren’t doing enough to really make an impact, but even baby steps, like choosing to use cloth napkins and shopping bags, can have a ripple effect and inspire those around you.
B.Y.O.B. – Bring Your Own Bowl
I don’t create much garbage at home. But going out into the world is another story. Sometimes it seems like you just can’t get away from it. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed more and more small restaurants, cafés and stores using disposable products like paper plates/baskets, plastic cups for drinking and dipping sauces, stacks of paper napkins where only one or two is needed, and plastic cutlery that often cannot be recycled. For some of these places, it may be more convenient, for others it may be a matter of necessity when it comes to space, staffing and business logistics. Whatever the reason, I cannot justify participating in the creation of more waste when there is such an easy solution…B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bowl!).
At my neighborhood bagel shop, Ruthie’s Bagel Dish, we have been affectionately dubbed “The Bowl People” because almost a year ago, we decided to start bringing in our own bowls, napkins, travel mugs and even an extra spoon for stirring the coffee, to reduce the amount of waste we would produce by simply having a bagel and coffee in the morning. If you want to get truly ecocentric, this is a very simple step to take in waste reduction. Get a cloth bag and fill it up with an eating kit or two. A wooden bowl or metal plate, a spoon and fork, a travel mug and a cloth napkin will do it. Keep it in your car or close to your door so you can grab it the next time you go to a place that uses disposables.
But what if people look at you funny? In our experience, they won’t! Handing our own bowls and cups over the counter to get our breakfast sandwiches has certainly attracted attention, from both staff and other customers, but in the form of interest in why we bring our own bowls. Then, we are able to explain that it helps the environment by reducing the waste stream and it also helps the business by using less of their materials, always with the hope of inspiring others to do the same. Members of the staff at Ruthie’s have recently told us that they now use their own travel mugs and will start leaving their own plate in storage at work for when they eat. When you start bringing your own bowl (and napkins and other utensils), you might just see that ripple effect as you bring attention to the issue of waste and inspire others to reduce their ecological footprint, in any small way that they can!
Do You B.Y.O.B.? Send us your photos!
If you bring your own bowls, cups, napkins, plates, utensils and take out containers when you go out to eat, we want to know about it so we can feature you in a future B.Y.O.B. update! Send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will share it in a future B.Y.O.B. inspiration post.