Revolutionary mess kit

Bike themed picnic basket

Reusable containers are a must for occupiers who want to reach the zero waste ideal. Photo: Miss Conduct via Flickr.

Occupiers, revolutionaries and soup eaters of all stripes have been writing in to Lindsay’s List to tell me they love the idea of making, sharing and living on revolutionary soup as part of their commitment to the #OccupyWallStreet movement. But, they wonder, how do you serve up soup to a bunch of protesters without generating a lot of trash?

No mess rebel

Firs things first.

Those who are protesting the outsize influence of corporate greed are called upon to set an even more stellar example themselves. One that goes beyond simply being at a protest, and speaking out, both of which are admirable practices. But for that message to really be heard, occupiers need to tread lightly. By that I mean, leaving as little an impact in his or her wake as possible.

So do no harm.

Many generous folks are donating food —pizzas, other take out food, catered mess line servings —in an effort to aid the front line bodies of the #OWS effort. But should they be providing endless paper plates, plastic disposable cutlery, throwaway napkins, paper or plastic cups, or individual serving drink bottles?

I think not.

The last thing you should be doing is contributing any more trash to the planet or the host city where protests are happening. Like an aware revolutionary, your aim should be to achieve as close to zero waste as you can get.

To reach this, each protestor out there should have his or her own mess kit, however humble. All you really need are

  • A refillable bottle or two —one for water, one for coffee and or juice. Though one will do.
  • A bowl which can double as a plate.
  • A linen napkin, bandana, or cloth. (Not to be confused with your handkerchief.)
  • A cutlery set — fork, spoon, butter knife.

In an ideal world this will roll up into one kit, compacting down to a small enough size that it’s not cumbersome to carry.

Assembling your revolutionary mess kit

Obviously a crude and simple kit will do — as simply gathered as bringing it from home, or picking up parts at a Goodwill.

But if you’ve got the cash and prefer something perhaps more portable, compact and durable, there are some options on the market, from the moderately affordable to the swanky. It’s also a good gift to request if someone offers to get you anything to support your occupation efforts.

As I’ve cited before, the 3 Tier Tiffin is my favorite reusable personal food carrier. That’s because I like food variety (remember, the Revolutionary Soup meal is soup, bread and cheese and/or fruit). And I’m persnickety about certain foods touching others. Though it has three compartments it’s still very compact, easy to carry, and keeps food warm nicely. And $24.95 isn’t too pricey if you’ve got some money to spare.

The New Wave stainless steel lunch container gets good reviews for being sturdy enough to take a beating and hold one meal at a time. Some say it’s no good for soup, but I think it’s fine if you’re getting and eating the soup right at that moment. And at only $10.50 it’s a pretty good price.

If you’re more thermos minded, though, and are going strictly for the soup, get a sturdy one that doesn’t leak and stays cool to the touch. This one comes with a spoon.

Utensils and a dainty personal napkin

There’s no reason to use disposable utensils. Ever. Even if you’re not a revolutionary on the street. Even if you’re just getting a to-go order from your local hole in the wall.  Reusable utensils are a dime a dozen at unpretentious second hand shops. Get a set, roll them up in a napkin, tie a string around it, and call it a day.

But if you want a more official kit, I like the bamboo ones by RePeat. At $14.95 they’re not too pricey (not as cheap as the thrift store, obviously), but are made of sustainable materials and are long lasting.

I’m not going to recommend a plastic set because I have a pretty hard-core anti-plastic perspective.

Like utensils, linen napkins can be had for a song at a second hand shop. Buy a few. Ask mom or grandma to send you some. Put all of these items on a wish list to help make your encampment a zero waste zone.

Seriously, people lived like this all through human history, carrying their own mess kits. Pioneers. Travelers. Pilgrims. We’re the only sick, sad, generation in history to chuck resources so wantonly, every time be grab some to-go food at a restaurant. We can do better, especially at a revolt against the corporate waste-making machine.

Revolutionary mess kit donations

And if, like our revolutionary soup-makers who can’t leave home, you want to help the protestors, make them some mess kits. Assemble kits from recycled, donated, church surplus or thrift-store bought materials and distribute them to the occupiers. Or if you’re business-minded (see, this isn’t an anti-business movement) sell them at a reasonable price.

One way to help this movement really take off is for all participants, at home or on-site, to demonstrate the most high-minded and exemplary behavior. That starts with what we consume, and how we handle the waste of it. #Solidarity

–Lindsay Curren, Lindsay’s List

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