It’s one thing to try to produce no waste at home where you have your bin system and your collected luxuries and your compost out back; it’s quite another to adhere to “the rules” while on vacation. This past week, I had a taste of recycling on the road.
I spent 4 days cycling a section the Kettle Valley Railway (a defunct rail line in the interior of British Columbia about 5 hours drive from Vancouver). Last year, Grant and his Dad and I peddled the same trip. My parents were so inspired that they decided, along with my aunt and uncle, to try their first bicycling tour, and I agreed to orchestrate it. So, let that be an inspiration to you if you ever thought it was too late to start traveling by bike- all four of them are over the age of 60!
I managed to not buy any material goods even though I left my travel toothbrush at the very first place we stayed, and was forced to “brush” with only my finger and toothpaste for four days. To be quite honest, there was not much opportunity for buying things as we were mostly in the wilderness, and there were no stores nearby.
Garbage from food was the hardest to avoid. Usually when we’re bike riding or hiking or camping we fall back on tempting quick and easy food with excess packaging. It took much more planning to cut down on waste, but we shopped beforehand in the bulk aisle and the fresh veggie section as much as possible. We made granola bars, energy balls, and cookies and packed them in plastic containers.
Of course, I was the only person who was officially part of the Clean Bin Project, but the others humored me. Everyone brought a re-sealable container for packing lunches and helped me wash out our plastic bags for re-use and carry our compostables until we could find a proper compost bin. We chose to compromise with a small foil packet of pre-made curry paste for convenience and plastic wrapped manna bread because it packed so well in the hot weather.
My family is actually quite aware about waste and supportive of the Clean Bin Project (although I did step in once with a reusable mug once when coffee was purchased in a styrofoam cup and another one was imminent). But I do want to give a cheers to my fellow cyclists who supported a (almost) waste free cycle tour. And also for putting up with me because one of the dangers of being so obsessed with waste is a tendency to get. . . well. . . a bit preachy about recycling.
And I’m coming clean here: I do it. I fish tin cans out of people’s kitchen bins; I talk about my compost when we’re out for dinner; I insist that my friends wash out that piece of tin foil because “for pete’s sake, it’s curbside pick up”. I have been known to preach about rubbish.
So thanks to my family for keeping me off my soapbox this trip and making it easier to stick with “the rules”. And if anyone out there ever wants to go on a great cycle tour, I recommend the Kettle Valley Railway.