Teenage Wasteland

This week was weird food week for me.
Jacob and I were grabbing coffee downtown on Tuesday night, and on the walk back to my car, we spotted a random assortment of vegetables laying on the sidewalk. Of course I stopped to take a picture. They lay there in the dark, an oddly phallic assortment of forgotten food.
I thought little of it.

I went home, parked on 17th and as I was walking back toward my house, I saw an entire bag of English muffins sitting there by the sidewalk.
So I took a picture.

I realized later that it was dumb to take two pictures of weird food coincidences, but then today, it finally hit me.
I was driving up Colorado Blvd to grab a salad from the grocery store when I saw tubs of Blue Bell (brand new to Colorado) ice cream melting all over the median. Thank god it’s not summer and the tubs won’t start to stink immediately, but someone is still going to have to come and clean them up.
And who leaves food like that?

I got back to the office and took the plastic off of my salad. And then took more plastic off of the toppings. And then unwrapped the plastic fork and removed the plastic off of the plastic carton of salad dressing included in the plastic package.
See where I’m going with this?

Plastic. Food.

Maybe now that I’m working in a confined space (read: an office), I find myself often eating perishables in disposable cartons. Or eating non-perishables in disposable cartons.
I have a set of lovely reusable food containers. (Ah, Costco, where would we be without you?) I bring yogurt in them. I have stained them orange with spaghetti sauce residue. I have microwaved them and washed them and refrigerated them, and they come home with me daily.
I’m satisfied to use them, because I know they are about as sustainable as plasticware gets. I’ll reuse them until either I lose them (which is bound to happen at some point) or until they become broken and old. But they’re sturdily made and chances are high that my $30 investment (that’s a high estimate) will be well worth it for both me and the environment.

But waste.
Food gets wasted.
It happens.
But it happens too often.
Mike and I are constantly battling the fresh food problem. We want fresh food. We buy fresh food. We watch that fresh food become less and less fresh until it’s no longer fresh food. We throw it out.
The cycle begins anew.

I remember being sixteen and having a seriously depressed thought about a spoon at Dairy Queen. (Oh god, that’s embarrassing.) When you drop a spoon on the floor, it gets thrown away. It’ll never touch anyone’s lips. It’s now been rendered useless. And that bothered me. It was created to be a spoon, to bring ice cream joy to the lips of greedy consumers. But now it never would. It will spend the rest of its days (weeks, months, years, centuries, millenia) languishing in a landfill, wrapped in plastic, surrounded by paper cups and napkins, and other plastic spoons, rotting slowly back into the Earth.

But they won’t rot, really. Not within a decent timeframe.

This is why it is of the utmost importance that people start recognizing their own consumption and thinking about it. (Thoughts are where all real change starts.) Don’t recycle because it’s cool, recycle because of that poor red spoon. Recycle because you can and should. Recycle.

And stop wasting food.
I’m guilty of it, too. We all are.
Stop leaving half empty beer cans. Drink up.
Stop letting your spinach rot.
Stop buying the 5lb carton of strawberries at Costco (I’m so guilty of this…I do it every time) because it’s cheaper than 2lbs at the grocery store.

I’m not going to the use the hungry-child-in-Africa excuse because it’s not really that valid as far as your own personal food consumption goes. Sending someone your spinach isn’t going to work. Eating something extra even though you don’t want to will just make you fat. It’s a no-win situation. They’re still hungry and now you’re dealing with the onset of adult diabetes.

So much for saving the world.

Only buy what you need. And sometimes, even though it may be laden with preservatives that might mummify your insides, it might be better to buy it canned, or frozen, or not at all if you know you’re not going to use it right away.

Just a small public service announcement and personal reminder.

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