by Tammy Taylor~
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Recently RancherMan & I traveled to a city about 4 hours away from our ranch so that we could attend the 2-day Mother Earth News Fair. I’d never been to their fair before and OH MY what a great time we had!! But since it was a two day seminar and because it was an 8-hour round trip, we decided to get a hotel room close to our destination for the weekend. Now we prefer Comfort Inn Suites because we’ve found the quality at their hotels is pretty consistent (sadly not the case this time…) and we like the complimentary hot & hearty breakfast that their chain of hotel offers. Although hotel stays can be notoriously wasteful, there are a few ways RancherMan & I have easily & comfortably reduced some of the waste that would typically be produced by a hotel stay.
In-Room Coffee Bar Trash
The hotel rooms all have these tiny coffee makers in them, although their super-slow percolating and the eensy amount of coffee it offers up frustrates me – coffee in the mornings is a non-negotiable part of my existence! I’ve always hated all the trash those morning hotel javas produce, but although I do love me some morning coffee, I. HATE. Styrofoam. HATE. It’s used a very short time & then into the trash it goes, and of course once it hits the landfill that stuff never goes away! But the in-room coffee bar’s where lots of trash is made: The heavy packages that the single-tiny-pot coffee pods come in, as well as the grounds & pods themselves. (..times the two packets they allow you – those pots don’t make enough coffee in a single pot do do anything but whet my appetite!) And of course there are those blasted styrofoam (groaaan…) cups, each one shrink-wrapped in plastic. And thankfully we drink our coffee black because look at all the trash in those little packets of coffee amendments! A plastic bag with sugar and creamer packets, plastic stir sticks, napkins and the like. And once you open that plastic packet all of those things are wasted whether they’re used or not and must go into the trash! (sigh…) Sure I could probably take home the unused items previously shrink wrapped in plastic & use them here at home, but tiny single-use things are NOT my cup-o-tea…
But here’s our easy solution – by far the easiest thing we do to eliminate two styrofoam cups every morning is that each of us brings our favorite travel mug to the hotel with us. So each morning RancherMan grabs our travel mugs and slips over to the breakfast area and fills them both up to the brim. Ummm… plenty of piping-hot coffee, NO WAITING! A tiny thing but think about it, on this two-day stay that’s FOUR styrofoam coffee mugs not tossed in the trash just because of this one easy thing. Although we don’t travel much I think it’s safe to say over the years we’ve eliminated many styrofoam cups from being trashed.
Disposable Trash From Hotel Restrooms
The coffee bar’s not the only wasteful place – what about plastic trash in the bathrooms. There are those cute little single-night stay lotion/shampoo/conditioner combo things and although they come in fun scents, I’ve brought refillable travel bottles with my favorite travel supplies: eucalyptus-scented shampoo and conditioner. In previous days I used to use and also take home those tiny complimentary bottles whether they were ever used or not. I figured “Hey, these are FREE, I should take them!” Until I stopped to think about it: Free isn’t necessarily good. Those tiny bottles do me no good at home, the amounts contained in them are mere tablespoons of product! Now I leave them untouched at the hotel so that I’m not adding all those single-use tiny plastic bottles to the landfill. I will typically unwrap one of the bars of soap to use during our stay and I’ll allow it to dry the morning of our departure and tuck it back in its wrapping so I can bring it home – I know used soap would probably just be thrown away and this way at least we can finish using it up. I think for future trips I’ll bring my own homemade soap from home instead – I love the lavender/rosemary scents we’ve used this year! One less thing unwrapped during our hotel stay…
Mountains of Trash at Hotel Dining Rooms!
Now here’s my next challenge – breakfast! I noticed that this is a lot of trash for a single meal! Although we are still using our refillable coffee mugs at the breakfast table I’m shocked at the amount of dinnerware & containers I’m using for a very short time and then throwing away: a styrofoam plate, plastic fork, plastic cup for juice, tiny plastic tub for single-serving jelly, plastic tub for single-serving yogurt and a plastic spoon to eat that yogurt along with a couple of paper napkins for each of us. All into the trash for about 15-20 minutes worth of meal for one person. Hummm…
I’m really not sure how to avoid this easily. I’ll be working on some subtle non-weird-looking solutions to this for our next hotel stay. I’m thinking there may be no way around the disposable plate but I may opt to wait enjoy my own homemade yogurt once I get back home instead of this little disposable plastic tub of the commercial stuff while we’re on the road. And perhaps one of our coffee mugs could be rinsed before coming to the dining room & used for orange juice instead – we could share both orange juice and coffee.
Possible Solution To Some Dining Trash?
But regarding the plastic utensils & napkin – what if I used a cloth napkin from home home and made a fold at the bottom & sewed a couple of slots into it to tuck a fork and spoon into? I could roll the flatware into the napkin, and tie it securely and it would tuck into RancherMan’s shirt pocket on the way to the dining room until we were ready to unroll & use it. At least that would eliminate the plastic cutlery I hate so much as well as the paper napkins since the cloth napkin ‘carrying case’ would also serve as my napkin for breakfast. I don’t think that would look too weird in a crowded breakfast area, do you? Although they sell portable cutlery like *this and *this on Amazon, I’d rather use what I have at home & make it myself. Hummmm… Any suggestions for me?
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