Who doesn’t love to hate them? Thirty or forty of your most favorite, or unfavorite, people all gathered in one place so they can argue with the aid of too much sunshine, too many mosquitos, too much beer and not enough places for you to run and hide.As you might have guessed, a family reunion lurks in my future. Thankfully, I actually like all of these people (well, most all of them anyway) and foresee having a truly enjoyable day hanging out on the back 40, playing horseshoes, talking with family-who-are-also-friends whom I haven’t seen since we moved back from Costa Rica. All of these things are making me look forward to this upcoming sunny Saturday afternoon, but one thing in particular piqued my interest and made me both encouraged and discouraged about the general tone of the event.
In a mass-email-to-the-whole-family-format, I offered to bring Eco-friendly, compostable or non-disposable plates, cups, utensils, napkins and whatnot for eating and cleaning up. I got a couple of, “Oh, someone is already buying all those supplies at Costco.” responses. I also got a couple of, “That’s great! I vote for the reusable or compostable options.” responses. But then, I actually got ridiculed, lambasted and derided in an unnervingly angry response by one particular family member for deigning to make the offer, and for believing that one little nod towards sustainability would make a difference in the first place.
I say that I was both encouraged and discouraged, which is a bit of an understatement, as I was actually quite angry for most of the day yesterday, but after a lot of thought and consideration, I came around to being almost entirely encouraged by the whole exchange. Encouraged, because I did get some support in the first place, but also encouraged, to my surprise, by the angry email. For to incur such wrath by merely offering to bring compostable products to a summer barbeque means that the Green movement is making some waves and making some folks uncomfortable with the status quo, and when people are uncomfortable and upset about something, it generally means change is on the way. And that, folks, is very encouraging news indeed.
So, for good times and little ridicule, here are some tips on how to be a little more green at your next family event:
1. Encourage folks to carpool to the event location, and choose somewhere that is close to several of the invitees, if at all possible.
2. Encourage everyone to bring their own reusable products: water bottles, utensils, cloth napkins, reusable picnic plates. Or, not quite as good, but better than plastic – supply folks with compostable products including plates, cups, utensils, napkins. And don’t forget the compostable garbage bags to clean up all the trash.
3. Get a consensus (this is the hard part!) about what folks want to drink that isn’t beer or wine or other alcohol and mix up some large batches in those “Gatorade” coolers that have the nifty poor spout and keep drinks cold all day. This will save on individual cans and plastic bottles of juice and soda.
4. Buy your meat from a store or farm that offers ranch grown meat and raises their livestock humanely and without hormones. And while you’re at it, opt for organic veggies and non-processed deserts.
5. There are several organic breweries and wineries out there. Try them! They’re actually not even “not bad for organic”, but taste good and aren’t particularly more expensive.