I have two general New Year’s goals for myself, or I should say my household. One of my goals is to get this household more active, since we’ve been slacking, but we’ll discuss that later. First, let’s look at my big goal of the year.
The ongoing food packaging goal
For over four years, my New Year’s goal has been to eliminate food packaging that comes into my house. I’ve done a horrid job too. Seriously, I’ve been terrible, not really limiting much food packaging at all. Each year I think, this is the year I do better and each year – zero results.
For example, if you look in my cupboards and fridge, here are some typical items we buy that come in packages of some sort: ketchup, crackers, soup, bread, frozen veggies, milk, refried beans, eggs, granola bars, butter, baking goods (I often, but don’t always buy bulk), sometimes cookies, tortillas, spaghetti sauce, cheese, bagels, rice and so on and so on.
We do buy 90% of our food in organic form. However, for a green family, I feel like we have way too much overly packaged stuff.
What’s stupid, is that half this stuff I can make from scratch, using bulk goods brought home in reusable bulk bags or containers (which I already own). I’m a good bread and cookie baker. I can make crackers and granola. I’m decent at making sauces and there’s no question that I can get organic veggies fresh in reusable bags vs. frozen.
Why we fail year-after-year
Being that I make this flipping goal every year, I needed to figure out how come my household keeps failing to meet it.
We’re busy: I feel like we’re pressed for time constantly. We’ve got three kids with three different school and activity schedules. My boyfriend works an oddball shift full-time at his day job and performs frequently with his band (second job). I work full-time writing and I’m on the board at my son’s school. Like we’ve got time to bake and cook from scratch every night. It’s REALLY easy to open cans of soup.
I’m ill-equipped: I’m a decent cook, but not a genius cook. Stuff like homemade soup is a stretch for me. In fact, I’d say that soup is our biggest failure. We get canned soup often. Even though we buy organic, it’s still packaged and the cans are known to harbor BPA (lame).
My partner is ill-equipped: I’m not the only adult in the house with issues. My boyfriend doesn’t seem super keen to cook from scratch either and his cooking abilities are also limited.
Picky kids: My boyfriend’s kids want processed foods often (turkey dogs, bagels, mac n cheese, etc) and my son, Cedar, is so picky that once we find something he’ll eat, we tend to stick to it, rather than try anything new. For example, Cedar just recently decided mac n cheese is okay to eat, but says, “I like the Annie’s white shells and not other mac n cheese.” Thus, whipping together a homemade dish of mac n cheese could mean a picky kid food revolt.
Benefits of eliminating some packaging
If we manage this goal this year, there are some major benefit though. For example:
- Lower grocery costs. There was a time, years ago, when I used to buy more food in bulk and cook from scratch more often, and I did spend less on groceries. Packaging and convenience does cost you, especially if you buy mostly organic.
- We’ll learn some new skills, like how to make soup.
- We can teach one, two or maybe all three of the kids to cook too.
- We’ll avoid pesky BPA in cans.
- We’ll avoid cluttering up the landfills with trash – not all packaging is easily recycled. Plus, although we do recycle like champs, recycling takes energy, so why not avoid the packaging in the first place.
- We’ll be more self-sufficient and less dependent on food companies. For example, I get cranky when my favorite organic vegetable soup is out of stock. It would be better to learn to make it myself.
- We can feel better about our footprint. It’s not just all the packaging to recycle that bugs me. It takes energy and other resources to make food packaging. Plus, we’re not a family that buys a bunch of useless junk (most of us are not excess stuff fans) so the fact that we buy too much packaging just feels icky to me.
Since I haven’t reached this goal in previous years, I decided to lay out a much better plan this year. That plan is coming up soon. For now, tell me if you have any green New Year’s goals for 2012.
Image by raja4u via sxc.