This past week my hubs and the babe went on a week long trip to Nags Head, NC! This was the first vacation since starting on my journey to reduce waste and while certainly no where near perfect, I thought I’d share with you the various efforts made that contributed towards making the world a cleaner place along the way.
Packed several cleaning rags to avoid paper towels as well as dish towels and cloth napkins. As soon as we stepped foot in the kitchen the paper towels were put up into a cabinet out of the way. I had cloth napkins both to use for meals at home as well as on-the-go.
Packed own silverware for travel pack plus tupperware for leftovers both at home and when on-the-go. A couple of mason jars came in handy for coffee runs when we ran out of the grinds we brought or just needed a caffeine boost while we were out.
Knowing that we would be enjoying a beverage or two here and there over the course of the week, we packed our growler to be filled up at a local growler shop in order to reduce the number of bottles and cardboard boxes that would have to later be recycled.
Before heading out, I made a stop at our farmers market to get our milk in returnable jugs and stock up on fresh produce to have on hand. The lettuce is in a plastic bag because the chickie I bought it from strongly recommended it to maintain freshness since it was grown hydroponically, so after a few minutes of debate, I just went with it.
A GIRLS GOTTA EAT
Admittedly we went out to eat a lot. I really enjoyed being able to take a break from playing chef for several days and when the weather was bad it gave us something else fun to do. At least I did go prepared – having my tupperware for food to take back as well as my reusable travel pack to avoid single use when possible. We don’t go out very often to eat, simply because its very expensive so we typically avoid it when at home. This being so, I became more aware of the biggest challenge with eating out for someone trying to cut back on waste which is wait staff automatically bringing straws, napkins, and silverware, instead of asking you if you want it. I get it though – its not like there are too many peeps running around with cloth napkins in their bag ready to use…yet. 😉
But as far as straws go, it isn’t like its an essential. If someone were to ask, I’d say “no straw” but if I wasn’t diligent to say this when the waiter took my drink order, then I’d end up with one even if I didn’t want it. I’d try to give back silverware wrapped in paper napkins but most of the time waiters would drop them and run. Often I’d push the untouched, rolled up silver to the end of our table hoping they would be used for the next guest. With loose, unused napkins, I would end up taking those with me because I figured they would probably end up in the garbage if I didn’t. Trying to avoid these sorts of disposibles was definitely something that felt more and more defeating as the week wore on. So I tried what I could and if they brought me a disposable cup or straw without asking, then I just took it with me at the end to be recycled or re-purposed (into future art projects). This way I didn’t have to stress about starting every introduction with “no napkins or straws for me, please” and I felt like I was doing something to remedy the situation rather than throwing in the towel all together.
There was one place in the OBX, however, where I didn’t have to worry about straws, paper napkins or what sort of environmental impact I was having at all, and this was at Outer Banks Brewing Station.
Lemme just tell you how much I love this brewery/restaurant. I’d been here in the past but I guess before my environmental radar wasn’t on high alert so totally missed all of its eco-friendly awesomeness! First, the brewery is powered by a wind turbine. According to OBBS, this turbine will help offset 250 tons of greenhouse gases over its lifetime.
The second thing that caught my attention when we were there is that they encourage patrons to skip the straw! According to our waitress they will be phasing straws out this year completely and will be offering bamboo straws for purchase if someone can’t go without one.
Other waste free features: cloth napkins, to-go containers made of what looked like recycled paper (some friends got food to take home) & bricks in the floor were collected from “modern day casualties of the sea.” Even the bathroom is eco friendly with recycled toilet paper and hand dryers (now I really sound like a nerd, huh? haha).
On top of all of this, they have a large outdoor playground area where kids can run around and have fun while you kick back (or can at least be in the surroundings of an adult atmosphere).
Let’s just say, we couldn’t help but visit OBBS more than once during our time there. 😉
THRIFTY BEACH FUN
If you follow me on Instagram you saw that I snagged this bucket used at Goodwill for $1. It had spots where it had been gnawed on by a dog but it was otherwise intact and functional so I snagged it for our trip. The first thought that crossed my mind was a thank you to whoever donated this bucket instead of tossing it. I felt like through purchasing the chewed up bucket, this proved that run down stuff can still be worth something to someone.
We got super lucky and had several beautifully sunny days during our trip. Since I didn’t think it was going to be warm enough to be out much, I forgot to pack a hat for our fair skinned wee one. We didn’t want her to burn but wanted to enjoy as much time on the beach as possible, so we found a used one at a local children’s store.
Any time we were out on the beach, I made it a point to pick up any garbage that I came across along the way. The green styrofoam you see in this picture was a little disheartening as I kept finding it all along the beach broken up in the small pieces (oh and don’t worry, baby girl didn’t play with the rusty fishing hook).
One day I spotted this beach chair where the seat and back had been ripped from it. Since it appeared to have been abandoned I went ahead and did what the original owner should have done and removed it from the beach. It later hopped a ride home with us, so that I could take a stab at making it like new!
Of course we had to keep things green where we stayed as well. Any recyclables we produced over the course of the trip were collected in a bag and deposited into recycling bins before heading home (or saved for future reuse or repurpose).
What sort of waste saving strategies do you use when on vacation? 🙂