Snarling at the Sacker

The following article was written by my friend Amy Hearst, a very green mama and one of my favorite people. She recently told me that when she eats at restaurants she asks for the manager to make sure they are recycling; if they aren’t, she takes the opportunity to tell them why they should.

She is a true character, a devoted mom and she’s passionate about saving the environment. She may embarrass her husband occasionally (we feel for you Matt!), but it’s all in the name of making this world a better place……

So I’m at the grocery store tonight and I always bring my own reusable bags. I’m checking out and the sacker person asks a seemingly innocent question without noticing I brought my own bags.

“Plastic okay?”

I snarl back, “No, plastic is NOT okay!”

Then I angrily toss my organic fruit into my own reusable bag.

My husband keeps telling me I need to be a little kinder when I’m trying to get my point across, but people, we don’t have time to be kind! Years of being kind have led to a suffering earth.

Years of, “You know what, I’ll just double bag this for you – you have an extra heavy load here.”

Years of, “I want to recycle but I get so tired of thinking about all of the sorting.”

And years of, “Our area doesn’t offer curbside for glass, but we really recycle everything else.”

Use it once, throw it away. Is that what I want my kids to grow up thinking? That we are disposable, that the earth revolves around what we, as brief inhabitants of this place, desire and want? I don’t think so.

We moved from a Chicago condo to a house in suburban Kansas City. While in Chicago the trash (and recyclables) that my family generated didn’t really register to me. We just sorted things and tossed much of it into a giant dumpster outside our bedroom window.

In KC, we faithfully put our limit of two trash bags out per week along with blue bins for recycling. It was staggering to me when I walk in our neighborhood in the mornings to see all of the giant bags of trash lining the streets…and we are one small neighborhood in the midst of so many.

I also had a bit of an emotional epiphany one day at Target. I walked the aisle of laundry detergents and started thinking about how many of those plastic bottles could be recycled…and probably weren’t. They could end up in a landfill, slowing leaking their BPA toxins in my children’s drinking water someday. My eyes filled with tears.

I can get myself so worked up sometimes thinking, What can I do? How can I help?

I have found some ways, and I hope that my passions have paid off somehow.

  • I carry a big stack of reusable bags in the back of my car. For the first couple of weeks I would turn off my car and force myself to go around to the back and grab a bag – it became habit. I do that for every kind of store I enter – grocery, clothing, Loew’s, you name it.
  • Instead of using paper napkins and paper towels, I bought some washcloths at Target. I use those all of the time for cleaning the counters, wiping the children’s dirty faces, cleaning the floors. We use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. Yes, they get stained, but who cares? Much of the time it’s just our family eating together.
  • Save your water! Do you really need to rinse off your dishes before you fill up your dishwasher? Try not rinsing and see if that works just as well.
  • Get a rain barrel. They collect water that runs off your roof and you can use it to water your plants and garden with the pure rain. You can buy them at Lowe’s or Home Depot and your children can help you water your plants.
  • Use a bucket when you shower. Collect some of that water and use it to water your indoor houseplants. (Honestly, I haven’t done this one yet, but I’m going to!)
  • Use diluted vinegar or hydrogen peroxide as general cleaners around the house. You’ll save money and not fill up your household air with toxins. The stinky vinegar smell will go away after it dries.
  • Don’t buy anymore new clothes! Visit a thrift store and comb through other’s castaways. Producing new clothes uses so much energy and there are some fantastic children’s clothes available for cheap. Or trade hand me downs with friends.
  • Don’t buy a new car. Buy a used car – saves so much energy it takes to produce that new car.
  • Make or buy a compost container and use it. We fill ours up with coffee grounds, eggshells, vegetable peelings and yard waste. Then we use that mix (after it decomposes) to fertilize our garden and houseplants.
  • Plant a tree. Your kids will love it.
  • Plant a garden.
  • When you eat out with the kids, try to save all of those plastic cups and bring them home. The restaurants don’t wash and reuse them after you leave – they throw them away! So bring them home with you and reuse them.
  • We also reuse all types of plastic cups – if we get an iced tea at McDonald’s, I rinse the cup and use it again. If you get a Starbucks coffee, don’t throw the container away – use it again. I think all of these little steps will help our world in the long run.
  • Try to have one day where you don’t drive.

As an addendum, I just received this email from Amy…. Matthew and I went on a date Friday nightto this great burgers and beer place we love (Blanc Burgers and Bottles) and the server said they recycle glass along with several other Plaza restaurants. I was SOOOO excited……

Do want to tell Amy she’s doing a good job, ask her advice or tell her to stop embarrassing her husband? Email her at

Do you have any green tips? Feel free to share.

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