Have you ever noticed how much trash it’s easy to create in our everyday lives? Traveling is especially tough, but our culture of convenience makes it easy to just throw tons of stuff away. Disposable coffee cups, togo containers, utensils, plastic bags, and straws are just a few examples of things that are ubiquitous in our society, but are easy to stay away from with just a little advance planning and slight adjustments to our habits.Considering that there is a Texas sized island of plastic in the Pacific ocean, we are happy to not add our van sized portion- just driving from place to place on tour is bad enough for the planet!
This goal of this blog is to share our experiences with others, to inspire and excite our friends and fans to utilize some of the recipes, tips, tricks, and habits that we’ve been cultivating. Enjoy!
~We are a week and half into our trash free tour, and it’s going great! We’ve been eating really well, spending very little money on food, and enjoying the time spent together planning and preparing our meals. There have been a couple of set backs, including leaving a reusable coffee mug at our very first gig, and forgetting silverware when we left our house, but we were able to deal with those by just briefly stopping by a thrift store. We brought a small rice cooker with us and it’s been indispensable….we’ve been using it almost everyday, and we’ve managed to make so many different types of food with it! Indian and Thai curry, Cajun style dirty rice, Mexican style rice and beans, even rice pudding for desert. We’ve been pretty lucky to have access to a kitchen most days, so we haven’t tried any one pot recipes yet, but I’m sure that day will come. We have a bunch of spice blends that we got in bulk from various food co-ops, which go a long way with making things delicious! So far we’ve only eaten out once on tour, and that was going out for pizza with Keith’s dad, so we didn’t need a to-go container there. We did get some egg rolls when hungry right before a gig, and they came in a styrofoam box- for me it made that whole experience pretty unappetizing. Compared to eating out regularly though, I can’t help but think about all of the packaging we have NOT consumed, but planning ahead and mostly cooking for ourselves. That being said, even food from grocery stores often comes in packaging. We’ve been trying to frequent the bulk sections at co-ops as often as possible, and reusing our bags, jars, and togo containers, and eating a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits.We have also had lots of delicious food provided for us, and we are very grateful for that! We also have an insulated metal growler with us on tour, mostly to use for water, but we’ve also discovered that having it filled at breweries can be super cost effective and eliminates the need for glass bottles or cans. Ours is 64 ounces, which is enough for each of us in the band to have one pint of beer- perfect! Definitely gonna keep using that idea when we get home.
One of our strategies is to utilize the hot water from the coffee machines at gas stations. I pre-made an oatmeal mix before we left for tour, with organic instant oats, a spice blend I made, organic brown sugar, and raw almonds. The spice blend I used was 2 parts cinnamon, 1 part each nutmeg and cardamom, 1/2 part allspice, and a dash of cloves, but you could use whatever kind of spice mix you’d like. For each cup of oats, I added a teaspoon of spice mix, a tablespoon of brown sugar, and a small handful of almonds. A whole gallon of the mix cost around $7, and will make probably around 50 servings. Just add a bit of hot water from the gas station, and maybe a bit of fresh fruit cut up, and you’re full for the first half of the day. Overnight oats is a good option for whole oats, but since we don’t have a ton of space in our cooler, using the instant oats and making it fresh is working well for us. Yum!
I also drank tons of tea, trying to avoid single use bottled drinks from gas stations. I have a large mason jar with a leather coozy, and I’d just fill it up with hot water from the gas station at least once a day. I pre-made a few tea blends before leaving- my favorite was hibiscus, rose hips, elderberry, lemongrass, lemon balm, nettles, calendula, and a bit of licorice for sweetness. Yum!
I knew that tour can get stinky, so I mixed up a big jar of my favorite DIY deodorant- just equal parts coconut oil and cocoa butter, mixed with equal parts cornstarch, arrowroot powder, and baking soda to form a paste, plus a bit of lemongrass essential oil. Works better for me than any non-aluminum deodorant I’ve tried!
~Three weeks in- Well, it definitely is a lot harder to avoid trash when we don’t have all of our stuff with us! We flew to Alaska from Seattle, and left our rice cooker, most food stuff, and tupperware behind, as we had very limited space. We are still managing to cook most of our meals, and are trying to make time to eat in instead of take out when eating at restaurants. The tour fatigue is starting to set in though, and we often don’t have time or proper space for cooking. We finished off the giant bag of oatmeal, and the grocery stores that we’ve been to don’t have bulk sections to replace the oats, spices, and sugar. We also didn’t bring many of our reusable bags, which led to some hilarious improvisation, like this shoebox we found in our rented van that we needed up using for grocery shopping twice! The folks working at the grocery store definitely gave us some funny looks. Our friend Xiara gave us a great idea when we saw with her in Kentucky that ended up really saving the day when we were in Seldovia, a small town only accessible by boat or plane. We went to their one tiny grocery store right when they had just got a shipment of food in, but it wasn’t on the shelves yet- they were out of almost everything! Luckily, we had a bag of couscous premixed with beriberi spice mix, dried garlic and onion, and sun-dried tomatoes, recommended by our pal. We added spinach, sausage, and a bit of yoghurt, and it was delicious and super filling, it made several meals for the 4 of us.
~Looking back from the end of tour, it definitely got harder to stay motivated to cook and be on top of things like using our own tupperware as tour went on.Once we got back to the mainland from Alaska, we were exhausted and also super busy, with lots of long drives, shows every day, and computer work to catch up on. We definitely ate out more, hitting up food trucks often- we tried to ask one to put our food in our tupperware, but they said they weren’t allowed because of health code. Bummer! We did eat lots of fresh fruit picked from some of the houses we got to stay at- it was the perfect season for many varieties in the Pacific North West. We also got to re-up our herbal teas supply when we stayed at the Nursery at Mount Si in North Bend, Washington. I often remembered to ask for no straw, but half the time the bartenders forgot- it’s easy to go on autopilot. There were several places on the west coast that didn’t even have straws though, which was cool. We read a couple of articles and did a lot of talking about how our personal responsibility to use less plastic can only help so much.There is an overall, larger cultural and economic shift that needs to happen if we want to have any hope of leaving an inhabitable, beautiful planet for future generations. I do believe that personal choices are part of that shift though, and this was a good challenge! Many of the habits we changed did save tons of unnecessary garbage- especially coffee cups, single use plastic drink bottles, and plastic grocery bags. I definitely encourage everyone to at the very least bring a reusable coffee mug, a water bottle, and some reusable bags with whenever going on a trip. Those simple habits are super easy and reduce a lot of unnecessary resources.