Author Archive

“To Go” is a No Go

by Meghan Cavanaugh

This morning, like usual, I went to Norbucks to get my daily caffeine fix.  As I stood patiently waiting in line (reuseable mug in hand) I eyed the pastries behind the glass container.  By their looks alone I am generally consumed with tasty thoughts of the glistening chocolate on the cookies or the perfectly coated frosting on the lemon pound cake.  It is the eternal question for me before the barista asks my drink order:  To purchase a pastry or not to purchase a pastry…?  However, to my surprise I found the delectable treats not so perfectly incased behind the glass.  Instead, I found them wrapped in that pesky material: plastic wrap.  My heart dropped.  My first thoughts were that some sort of new school mandatory was now forcing the goods to be wrapped in the plastic for sanitary reasons.  Do we honestly need our food so incased when we will most likely be consuming that blueberry muffin within 10 to 15 minutes of purchasing it?

At this point my curiosity had peaked and I asked the woman at the counter why all the pastries were covered in saran wrap.  She responded that the usual Starbucks bags had not arrived, but they should be here soon.  Somewhat relieved that Northwestern had not placed some new health standard on food service, I also wondered why we need the bag at all or furthermore the plastic.  I suppose the bag is convenient for the on the go, but Norbucks also does not serve anything “for here.”  If they did I believe that pastry bag and coffee cup “to go” consumption would likely drop substantially.  Most students buy their pastry and coffee and sit around on the Norbucks couches and tables chatting and doing work anyway.  Why can’t they drink their coffee in a mug or eat their pastry on a plate?  This is just one more way that we could cut down on the single-use-item consumption that dominates our daily lives.

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April 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm 1 comment

Packaging and more packaging…

By:  Meghan Cavanaugh

Like most Sunday afternoons, today I went to the grocery store in order to purchase the items I will need for meals the following week.  This has been my first grocery outing since the beginning of the NoImpact Challenge.

Before leaving, I gathered my reusable bags and made note to not purchase any items sold individually in order to avoid gaining any points.  I began my shopping in the fresh produce section.  Instead of using the plastic bags, I placed all my fruits and vegetables in the cart naked.  I began walking the aisles.  Immediately I was much more aware of the immense amounts of packaging.  Cardboard wrapped in plastic, plastic wrapped in plastic, cardboard wrapped in plastic covered in cardboard; the insane amounts of packaging continued and continued as I walked through the store.  The walls of food packaging started caving in towards me with the overwhelming thoughts of all the single use casings.  I began to wonder, who really needs all of this packaging?  Are we really so paranoid as a population to contract some sort of bacteria or disease that we need to encase our food products like mummies?

As I approached the checkout line, not only did the ridiculous wrappings continue, I also realized how challenging a complete zero impact lifestyle would be.  In fact, I would argue that it is impossible.  As consumers we have only one solution, try our hardest to purchase items with as little packaging as possible and always be mindful of our overall waste impact.  This challenge has made me acutely aware of my impact and ways that I can reduce it.

April 10, 2011 at 8:21 pm Leave a comment


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