Tuesday, May 5, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Striving for zero waste: Beyond the bring-your-own-bag habit

By
From page A12 | April 20, 2014 |

One of the first steps my family took when attempting to reduce the amount of waste we generate is bringing our own bags when going grocery shopping. My husband does the bulk of the shopping on the weekend and has consistently been bringing usable bags on these trips for the past few years.

My shopping habits are less consistent and more spontaneous, and I often found myself, despite my best intentions, bagless when I would make an impromptu grocery store run. Or I’d find myself at the checkout being asked if I wanted paper or plastic only to realize that while I remembered to put my reusable bags in the car, I had forgotten the vital step of bringing them into the store.

To address my short-term memory challenges, I decided to purchase a few nylon reusable bags that fold into a built-in pocket. These sacks are useful because they are lightweight and easily fit into my purse, where I have taken to keeping a few.

When I felt like I had the BYOB thing down, I decided to think about other situations where bringing my own could cut down on waste generation.

* Bring my own coffee mug: This I’ve been doing on and off since college, so it didn’t require a huge lifestyle change. Remembering to bring the mug with me is a challenge, but I’ve gotten myself in the habit of grabbing it whenever I head out the door in case I decide I need a latte to make it through the afternoon.

If I forgot my mug and have time to linger, I’ve learned that most cafés in Davis will provide my caffeine delivery system in a “for here” cup if I ask.

* Bring my own water bottle: I’ll be frank here: I hate the taste of Davis water. In the past, we have bought bottled water to avoid having to drink from the tap. Unhappy with the amount of plastic waste we were generating through this practice, my husband, as an anniversary present a few years ago, installed a reverse osmosis filter in our kitchen sink.

A reverse osmosis system works by pushing water through a semi-permeable membrane that blocks particles larger than water molecules, thus removing the salts and minerals that give Davis water its unique taste. A surprise taste test given to me by my husband after installation demonstrated that I could easily tell the difference between the filtered and unfiltered water.

Now, instead of buying bottle water, sometimes at twice the cost of gas, we keep our fridge stocked with a carafe of flavorless filtered water.

While my home hydration issues had been addressed, I often found myself continuing to buy plastic water bottles when I was out and about. I’ve come to realize that buying water in plastic bottles is wasteful in ways that go beyond the container it comes in. Energy is needed and used to fill the bottles with water at the factory, and move it by truck, train, ship or air freight to the stores where it is sold (and often refrigerated).

Instead of continuing to contribute to this wasteful practice, I made a commitment to no longer purchase water in single-use plastic containers. Instead, I purchased every member of my family a stainless steel water bottle. I’ve tried to get in the habit of filling up my bottle at home with filtered water and bringing it with me. If I forget, I use the negative reinforcement of being forced to drink “Davis water” from the water fountain as incentive to remember it the next time.

* Bring my own utensils: One of the questions I hear most often from my kids when I pick them from school is, “Can we stop for frozen yogurt on the way home?” For such occasions, I’ve stocked up on spoons that I purchased for 10 cents a piece at the SPCA Thrift Store that we use instead of disposable plastic ones. (I’d like to give Cultivé Yogurt a shout-out for giving a 10 percent discount for those who bring their own spoon.)

I also purchased some similarly priced forks for when I stop at the salad bar at Nugget Market for lunch, or when we head to Picnic in the Park at the Farmers Market. They are a great alternative to disposable flatware and, at 10 cents a piece, I’m not too concerned if they don’t make it back home after being sent off to school in my kids’ lunch bags.

Bringing our own has been one of the bigger challenges we have tackled in our attempts to reduce waste. As anyone who has unexpectedly dropped by my house, or had the misfortune of riding in my minivan can attest, organizational skills are not my strong suit. I consider myself lucky if I can find my keys and remember my phone when I’m rushing out the door, much less my reusable bags, water bottle, coffee mug and utensils.

Needless to say, I still end up drinking my coffee from a disposable coffee cup, and my kids still end up using plastic spoons for their frozen yogurt. But instead of feeling guilty about the times I forget, I’ve tried to focus on ways to help me remember, even if that means I sometimes visit a public water fountain for a sip of some “Davis” water.

— Michelle Millet is a Davis resident with a degree in wildlife and fisheries conservation biology from UC Davis. She’s the mom of two kids, ages 7 and 9. Follow her blog at http://zerowasteindavis.org or contact her at [email protected]

Comments

comments

Michelle Millet

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Sexual assault awareness campaign recognizes teens

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Mother, daughters killed in crash caused by wrong-way driver

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
     
    New comic allows readers to ‘Carpe Diem’!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Fire damages Woodland apartment

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Watering bans, conservation mandates on tap for regulators

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    A blessing of the bikes

    By Fred Gladdis | From Page: A2

    Capitol drive collects essentials for young lives

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Sunrise Rotarians honor student role models

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    Vet Med Large Animal Clinic has a new director

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B3

     
    Party celebrates release of Lescroart’s new novel

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    Grace Valley hosts open house

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B3

     
    Indoor Fun Fly comes to Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    Learn to use walking poles effectively

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

     
    Davis families take a spin at the Loopalooza

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Davis Municipal Fiber will give people a choice

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Independent study enrollment underway

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Faulkner featured at Poetry Night on Thursday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Sunset Rotary hosts Thursday-afternoon bingo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Winters agri-tour visits Four Winds Nursery

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Fresh cherries at Sutter market

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    Pets of the week

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Speakers cancel for health reasons

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Special KDRT broadcast celebrates Grateful Dead’s 50 years

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    Tour de Cluck participants can get here by train

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Dance, dance, dance for a great cause

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A10

    Information offered on city tax refund program

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

     
    Monthly tour set at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    Think long and hard about our town’s future

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    Whom will our council represent?

    By Michelle Millet | From Page: B4

    Weeds pose a threat to pets

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Is your bike waiting for you?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Tips to reduce student stress

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    John Cole cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

    New rule: No dough, no art

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Ready to cut her off

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    .

    Sports

     
    DHS celebrates Senior Day with a fun victory

    By Chris Saur | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Visiting Eagles edge Blue Devils

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Majors roundup: Thompson, D’Angelo lead Brew Crew rally

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    UCD roundup: Aggies baseballers fall in 13 innings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    Student filmmakers showcased at UCD Festival

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

     
    Stellar acting brings home Capital Stage’s dark comedy

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Student choreographers, dancers stage festival at UC Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    From Bach to rock, Regal Beezers will entertain

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Emma Sallie Wing Hale

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Robert Simpson Loomis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: B5

     
    Comics: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7