Packing Mindfulness in my To-Go Box. ~ Natasha Grunden

Via elephant journal
on Nov 2, 2010
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Did I remember to be mindful today?

There’s this cute idea that in the mindful community, people are generally aware of what they say versus what they do. Even we elephant journal interns fall into the trap of picking our mindfulness battles.

Every week, the ele interns start our Monday meetings with lunch at a thoughtful restaurant.  Last week’s lunch destination was Elephant Hut, which uses free range, organic meat and organic tofu in their dishes.  Obviously a good destination when we’re trying to mind our food stuffs.

During our “official” meeting at ele headquarters, we had a discussion about a big name coffee chain and the waste from all those to-go cups. One person just so happened to dash to our post-lunch meeting with one of those said cups. There was explanation as to why this cup was present at a meeting of the mindful.

“Didn’t most of us just get to-go containers at lunch?” I asked. “How is that any different than the disposable cup?”

The response was we should have considered those containers now stuffed with our delicious leftovers and we returned to the agenda without much fuss.

Scene Two: Elephant Hut, one week later

As the bill arrived for this week’s lunch, several people pulled reusable containers from their bags. Ranging from plastic tubs to glass jars, we requested fewer to-go boxes for our abundant leftovers.

All because of one comment, which several people admitted was the reason they brought their own box.

We chose what we want to be mindful of. It’s easy to bash Big Guy Coffee and every person walking out the door with their coffee-flavored beverage in a disposable cup and coffee collar. It’s easy to pick on something most of us agree is bad. It’s a little harder to be as critical of something we do, something just as thoughtless as consistently getting a caffeine fix from a paper cup.

We can’t always tote our reusable mugs and food containers with us. It’s not about fretting over the day we forgot our favorite travel mug in the sink; it’s about knowing when those situations are likely to occur and planning for the inevitable. Doing something most of the time is always better than doing nothing.

I almost always remember to bring my reusable bags when I get groceries, but often forget when shopping for knitting projects and clothes. Sometimes I forget to tell the cashier I don’t need a bag and end up with a trashcan liner.

I’m not going to beat myself up over it, but try to set myself up to be mindful of what I actually do versus what I think I do. Once I started leaving my reusable bags by the front door, I couldn’t leave the house without bringing those bags to leave in the car. It’s a lot easier to remember a bag when it’s sitting in the backseat.

I may still end up with leftovers after eating out, but I know I can plan for the places that always leave me with chow for home.

Natasha is a Colorado State graduate and  recently returned Coloradoan after spending two years “visiting” Indiana, and really missed these mountains.  She likes getting up close at concerts, craft beers and collecting new and used vinyl.


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2 Responses to “Packing Mindfulness in my To-Go Box. ~ Natasha Grunden”

  1. G-Love says:

    Are there any health laws or restrictions that would cause a restaurant to say that they can't use your container? I've often wondered this and if there are any general guidelines to bringing your own containers, besides the obvious like coffee which has been going on for years?

  2. natashag says:

    I haven't heard anything preventing people from using their own containers, but I have heard of places charging extra for a to-go box. People often stop for a morning (or afternoon) coffee, which makes it easier to remember your cup. I don't think people eat out with the same frequency as grabbing acoffee.