A few years ago in a grocery store, my daughter ran out ahead of me in embarrassment as I gathered up my groceries in the wide skirt I was wearing because I had forgotten my cloth bags in the car. Of course, when I got to the car, I transferred the items into the bags. I really love puzzles and games and I have made Pre-cycling a constant challenge and brain exercise, trying to figure out how to use the least amount of disposable material possible. Recycling has made it's way to the forefront of our attention and restrictions on disposable plastic bags are beginning to be legislated. More and more products and containers are being manufactured from post-consumer waste -- Eco consciousness and sustainability is becoming hip :-) In the spirit of this growing respect for the planet that we are a part of, I invite you to play the Pre-cycling game with me.

The game starts very easily with small things. When you walk to the checkout line at the store with a tube of toothpaste or a carton of milk, inform the clerk you don't need a bag. You need to be ready and quick because the item disappears into a bag in a blink if an eye. When you buy a cookie at a cafe ask for a small piece of wax paper instead of a bag. Sometimes I even have them place it right on my palm, between my fingers, since the treat will be gone in minutes with no need for waste. A cloth handkerchief can replace a box of tissues and instead of drying with paper towels when I wash my hands, I shake and briskly pat my hands on my thighs and they dry in an instant.

The next step is the Pre-cyclers Car Kit. These are the items I assemble in a plastic bin in my car for the Intermediate Level of our game. At all times I have a hot drink cup, plates, silverware, cloth napkins and food containers in various sizes with sealable lids. I have cloth bags including ones that collapse to such a small size that they fit in a small purse.  I save the bags from produce to reuse over and over again. To protect my clothing, if I eat in the car, I have an old bed sheet under the drivers seat. All of these items make their way into the house and back out to the car in frequent cycles. I keep any items for my Car Kit in a pile ready to go back out -- after all, if I forget to take it back to the car they are not available for use.

I like to frequent small family restaurants and many now ask me if I have my plate with me when I order 'Food To Go.' Some will even joyfully wait for me to arrive with my container when I place an order by phone because they know me and that I'll be bringing one. I have found that in many establishments the proprietors love playing this game with me -- it makes them feel good too. If I suspect I will have leftovers when I sit down in a restaurant, I bring my sealable containers in with me.

A reusable water bottle is essential for the Intermediate Pre-cycler. I prefer stainless steel and glass and sometimes use my hot drink cup for water. I have a water filter at home, work and a small one I travel with.

For the hard-core Advanced Level Pre-cycler, a travel kit is a must. In my carry-on bag for the airplane I have a collapsible shopping bag, a leakproof drink container that doubles for hot beverages and water, stainless steel (very light) Lunch-Bot food containers, cloth napkin, handkerchief and (if I know I need it) small personal size water filter. When I arrive at my destination, many if these items move around with me since the object of my game is to use as little disposable material as possible.

I am a citizen of the modern world just like you and am aware of my impact on the environment both as a consumer of resources as well as a producer of waste. Just like most of us, even with recycling and compost containers, I have a trash bin that goes to the curb every week with throw-away items. It makes me feel good to take active steps to limit how much goes into the garbage and and care for my environment, that is essentially one of the layers of "me" as a being. Much of what we use momentarily and then throw away is a result of unconscious habits, living and moving fast and (that big word of the last 60 years) CONVENIENCE. In more ways than one convenience is not best. On many fronts I'm choosing to slow down and pay more attention to my actions and their consequences. Pre-cycling is one of these places.

I invite you to assemble your Pre-cyclers Kit and join me. 

P.S. If any of you take it so far as to assign points to your Pre-cycling, send me your point chart and we can make it competitive :-)