The problem: sports, school, after school activities call for snack and drink sign up. This potluck style stuff is so popular and rotates with each family. It can be a lot of work, so convenience is a huge deal. How to do this and be green? and convenient? and easy for kids?
Our kids love juice boxes mostly because we don't have them at home. At first when I signed up for "juice" at school, I resigned myself to buying Honest Kids pouches -- at least they were less sugar but still "juice".
Now, thinking more about plastic straws, plastic straw wrappers, juice boxes and juice pouches, and the disposable nature of our convenient foods, I have wanted to deconstruct the snack and drink sign up.
We already had a large 5 gallon cooler from water for camping. Could we do one for some other kid fun drink? My oldest son's birthday party provided the first opportunity. We had a nerf party at the park and filled two 5 gallon coolers, one with water and one with sugar free Kool-Aid made from a powder. On the invite I asked the kids to bring their water bottles, and they did! Success!
We have 2 of these, they hold 5 gallons and cost about $20
Would this work for a school activity or other juice sign up? Oldest son's Lego robotics practice was scheduled for a Sunday at a friend's house. People signed up for lunch and dinner and ... we signed up for drinks!
Some of the issues with going green:
1.practice will take place in the garage -- would water coolers be ok to lug into their space?
2. what to do about cups? should kids bring their own bottles? would it be rude to ask kids to bring extra things into someone's house that is not mine?
3. if cups, what about spills in this house that is not mine?
My friend came over with a revelation: at her children's elementary school, the kids and their families were all expected to bring reusable cups, plates, and silverware to their school functions and potlucks. The culture change had already happened there! Inspired...here is what we did:
We brought our two 5 gallon coolers: one with water and one with zero sugar Kool Aid (I know, I know, Kool Aid, but small changes)
We brought all of our steel cups, with little Super Mario magnets to be sort of like wine charms so kids could "save" their cup and know which one was their cup
We brought a plastic bin labeled "Dirty Cups" so the hostess could just toss the kids' cups in there when done (I want this greener way to NOT to feel as difficult or burdensome as the convenient throwaway method!)
We brought a folding table for all the cups, water jugs, and dirty dish bin
Small steps -- the magnets all fell off and the kids lost them. Instead, people used painter's tape on their cups. People did reuse their cups, but since the event was so long (4+ hours), the cups got thrown in the sink, and then the host found some plastic cups she had on hand. Towards the end of practice, most people had the plastic ones.
BUT! The large coolers were nearly empty, and I am thinking about all the plastic and juice boxes that we DIDN'T use because of the coolers. Small steps and culture change, I consider this experiment a step in the right direction!