Green Eating Part II
Last week's topic of the large amount of waste involved in quick service take out struck a cord; I heard from a lot of you! (For all the comments, click here, I have posted them at the bottom of the blog). Although the topic was about take out, the subject really applies to every type of food we buy, and of course, also everything else in life.
Having just been in Germany (if fact I am writing this at the Frankfurt airport, while waiting for our delayed flight), I paid a lot of attention to the way they do things in Europe. I hate to admit it, but they seem to live far "greener" lives than we do. It seems the packaging or plastic industry must have a pretty powerful lobby!
Things that I noticed, that we would no doubt be wise to adopt include:
Many people take "market baskets" to the market, and avoid having to use bags. If you do need a bag they charge for it, so there is added incentive to take your own. (And the market baskets are really great, I am bringing one home with me!)
The produce is not packaged, as it seems ours is more and more. Where I shop, strawberries, grapes, herbs, mushrooms, some tomatoes, etc. are all sold in plastic containers. At Trader Joe's , I store I love, almost every type of produce is in a plastic container or on a plastic tray that is wrapped in plastic wrap. Considering their organic focus, it seems a bit incongruous.
There was an obvious lack of styrofoam, in fact, I don't think I saw it in any shape or form in the last two weeks!
At quick service cafes, things aren't all wrapped and bagged automatically. If you are "eating in" your items are placed directly on a non-disposable plate, and drinks are in real glassware. Even if getting your items to go, they generally were not wrapped AND bagged. At one seafood place, the sauces were served in small cups made out of ice cream cone batter, rather than something disposable.
Bottles (such as Coke bottles) are sterilized and re-used, as they are in Mexico. (There is a telltale band around the bottles where they have rubbed against each other during the process). I have often wondered why we see the need to completely melt every glass item down after one use; it really seems outrageous when you think about it.
Many stores still have service counters so that there are no pre-packed meats, sausages (and there are a LOT of sausages in Germany!) or cheeses. You get exactly what you want, so only one wrap is necessary.
They use far more paper type products and far less plastic in all types of food service, I never saw a plastic clam type container. Even at the grocery store, most juices -- that would be sold in the US in heavy plastic bottles -- come in tetra-paks. Even items with the same brand names as here are packaged far more green for their European customers.
Their recycling program seems far ahead of ours. We saw recycling containers everywhere: stores, restaurants, on the street, even at the airport. And it seems that everyone participates.
One thing I loved was that many downtown areas have become "traffic free" zones. Cars can pull up to load or upload and then must move, making the streets for pedestrians, bikes, etc. The cafes and shops spill out into the street, creating a wonderful atmosphere and a great feeling of community.
I read that Germany now has one completely car-free town. Cars can be parked in one of two car lots at the edge of town (you must buy your parking space), outside of that there are no cars at all. 70% of the residents have decided to give them up all together. Of course, Europe is far ahead of us in other types of travel -- there are trains everywhere, so cars are less necessary for travel outside the community.
Smart cars are everywhere!
It is just that we are spoiled and demanding? Or are there politics behind some of these things as well? Email me and let me know your thoughts!
-Margie Follow on