Category Archives: Environment & Climate Change

It’s Fri-yay, so let’s have some good news on the blog (for once!) #oceancleanup

Hey you guys.

Sorry for being so gloomy lately. Al though I must say it’s warranted! Lots of things going on in the world that are “not so great”. However, today I have some cool, good news I wanted to share.

You may have read about it already; there is literally a system in the Pacific Ocean – RIGHT NOW – cleaning up some of our plastic waste that is threatening sea life!

The Ocean Cleanup. The name says it all. It’s the largest clean up attempt in history, with its first stop in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch“. By using this system, we can collect (and then recycle) about half of the plastic in the area every five years.

However, being somewhat nerdy, I was curious to know more about how the technology actually works, and I found this cool animated video. Have a watch :)

I love that someone is doing something to tackle this huge problem of ours. It’s inspiring and NEEDED.

On a personal level, the most important thing we as consumers can do to not contribute to further pollution in the ocean is, drum whirl please…

To stop eating fish.

Yes, that’s right! Almost 50% of all plastic in the patch is discarded fishing nets, with the majority of the rest being other fishing industry gear, including ropes, oyster spacers, eel traps, crates, and baskets. Plus, if we want to save marine life, why do we eat them?

Of course, don’t be a jerk and use disposable plastic unless you absolutely have to … but you know, think about what’s on your plate. The solution to our problem isn’t always the most obvious.

Happy Friday!

Time’s up: You can’t write an eco-friendly blog, without talking politics

I’ve been quiet lately here on the blog. I had planned to write a post about the  sustainable initiatives – or lack there of – that I saw in Scandinavia this summer, but it just hasn’t happened (yet).

I’ve been kind of low, lots going on in this world, and not been in the mood to write. But now I have to because I am upset!

Did you hear about the new climate report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN-convened coalition of climate scientists)? We basically have only 12 years to change the course we are heading in, in order to prevent catastrophic events due to the increase in temperature caused by human industries! It’s not catastrophic for the planet as such, it’s catastrophic for the life on this planet. That’s us. That’s our kids.

The report talks about the importance of only warming the earth 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) instead of the somewhat agreed to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F).

“We know there’s a threshold somewhere, probably in the vicinity of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, where we’re very likely committed to more than 30 feet of sea-level rise over centuries. It may be possible to preserve those large stores of ice at 2.7 degrees, scientists have found.”

“The new prognosis is stirring. A world that warms by 3.6 degrees—and not 2.7 degrees—will find that its problems metastasize out of scale with that seemingly small difference. In the hotter world, the number of people affected by water scarcity will double. Twice as many corn crops will perish in the tropics. The size of global fisheries will drop by 50 percent. And 99 percent of the world’s coral reefs will perish.”

So let’s just talk about this for a second. We’re in crisis mode here.

I don’t know where you are sitting right now, but where I am sitting (in my office) I am surrounded by people who don’t give a shit. In fact, they couldn’t care less. They watch Fox News and never read reports about climate change or environmental issues. These people are lucky enough to be on the richer side of the population, which means they count on always using privilege and savings to make sure they still drink fresh, delicious water. At the same time, they’ll always vote for politicians who want to build walls. Walls are great because once we’ve built them, they can keep all the future climate refugees out too! That way they can just starve on the other side of the wall – super handy. (Plus, the wall builders let them keep their guns! Yay.)

So what are we to do in these situations, when so MANY don’t care. So many can’t be bothered to even quit one beef burger per week.

I have tried to lead by example. Show them my tasty veggie lunches, said no to straws 45628774 times, told them about livestock and dairy. I have shared my blog and advertised other blogs. Still, almost five years later, I am still the “idealistic millennial who they better not get caught not recycling in front of”. Sigh.

I think I have come to the conclusion that the government, the people who make policy for countries, have to play a huge role in changing the course. Of course, we the people, can make positive changes – some of us have – but I’ve come to realize (after trying for so long to be optimistic) that it’s not enough because most people don’t care. Nope. We need policy, policy, policy.

There won’t be that perfect politician out there who can just fix it all, but there are good people running for office who want to seriously transition to a 100% renewable powered future.  Most of these good people are running as Democrats. Most of these good people focus on power generation, not so much on agriculture yet, but they’ll get there. Donald and his crew will NOT get there.

More than 1,600 new coal plants are due to come online worldwide in the next few decades, most under contract from Chinese companies. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has tried to create new subsidies for coal companies. It has also moved to weaken or repeal pollution regulations limiting airborne neurotoxins, as well those reducing greenhouse-gas emissions—rules that attracted the ire of coal companies.”

This, ladies and gents, means that every single eco-friendly blogger out there has the responsibility to talk politics.

They don’t have to shove it in someones face (like I do. Sorry not sorry) but they need to mention it. If someone has a blog that focuses on reducing global warming by making sustainable changes, that person can’t NOT talk about voting.

Personally, I don’t believe many MAGA supporters follow green living bloggers, but in the odd case of me being wrong, isn’t it a great thing if they read, on a blog they like, that politics and zero waste are linked together? Fox and Breitbart aren’t going to tell them… I am sure there are one or two eco-friendly followers  who don’t vote because the system is corrupt though, who could get an aha-moment and actually get to the polls, if a sustainable blogger explained how important this is, and mentioned some candidates to vote for to advance environmental policy.

If Taylor Swift can get political (thank heavens she did), eco-bloggers must.

Policy is key here.

Midterms are less than a month away, November 6th. In some states you can still register to vote. I hope, if you are a US-citizen, that you will vote, and that you will vote for a progressive democrat, or whoever the best choice is – for us all – where you live.

Quotes from this article

EARTH DAY – What the day is about and why we celebrate it!

I did a poll on Instagram to see how many people actually knew that Earth Day is coming up this weekend. Being surrounded by zero wasters and eco-friendly folks on social media all the time had led me to believe that everyone knew. Turns out 62% of earthlings who voted in my little poll didn’t! Wake up call, Anna!

That’s why I am writing a post about EARTH DAY today. It’s coming up this Sunday, April 22nd.

why we celebrate Earth day 2018

The reason we celebrate it on the same date every year is that the very first Earth Day happened on April 22nd! It was 1970 and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had not yet been founded. Activists and environmentalists had just started their fight for a cleaner world; biodiversity, cleaner air, less pollution and more government imposed regulations were on their agendas, as they demanded action thru peaceful protests and gatherings. Environmentalism was gaining momentum at this time in America and on the very first Earth Day, millions of people gathered in parks and streets to create awareness among individuals  and demand action from government to regulate polluting industries. Later that year, the President founded the EPA; laws for cleaner air, cleaner water and protecting endangered species were written and put into immediate effect. (#peoplepower)

So, what do people actually do on Earth day nowadays?

Well, it’s to up to each of us to decide!  Most cities arrange get-togethers or events in parks or similar spaces to bring attention to one or two specific environmental threats. Zero Waste and plastic pollution are buzzwords this year (thanks to in large the Blue Planet II series) and the official Earth Day Network  are focusing their efforts on just that; creating awareness about plastic pollution (single use!) and arranging clean ups. Other eco groups are gathering to plant trees, doing speeches or hosting educational events.

As for me, being very much a homebody, I’ll be at home with my boys. This environmentalist isn’t exactly the “joiner type” – we all don’t have to be right? If you’re not big on going somewhere to hang out with eco-warriors or attend a big event, try some of these ideas:

Donate to a cause. Chip in a few dollars to the Sierra Club, Stand for Trees or any other, trustworthy environmental organization you like.

Support a politician. The best thing we can do right now is to replace representatives in Government who don’t have ours or earth’s best interest in mind. Donate cash or dedicate some time promoting sustainable candidates up for local or national election this year.

Clean out your closet and meet up with friends to do a clothes swap! I just did this with one of my good friends and I love the shirts, vest and shoes I got – plus I feel so good about her resurrecting some of my clothes so I don’t have to sell or “donate” them (who knows where they’d end up).

Cook from scratch and enjoy a plant-based meal. Connecting with the food we eat by taking the time to cook it can be medicine for the soul and make us more thankful. It’s especially awesome if no earthling had to die for you to eat it. Try my vegan lentil moussaka, why don’t you!? I just had my recipe published on Mother Earth Living – get the recipe here.

Spend the day outside. Talk to your kids, friends, family members, whoever you are outside with, about threats to our lovely planet, its animals and us, due to climate change and pollution. Smell some flowers, do a cartwheel (yeah, right), pick up the trash you find. Just enjoy what we’ve all been given and rekindle that connection with earth!

ideas how to celebrate earth day

However you decide to spend the day I hope you have a wonderful, fulfilling Sunday! Also, next week is Fashion Revolution Week, so rest up for tackling the fashion industry, starting Monday, by asking all your favorite brands: Who made my clothes?

I’ll be posting my outfit of the day each day next week on Instagram to bring awareness to this cause @sustainableanna :)

Photo credits: Taken by me and my husband in Smokey Mountains area

It’s time to spring in to recycling LESS! (Here’s why)

It is that time of year again when nature bursts out blooms, bikes start rolling, we shut off our lights for Earth Hour and gear up to celebrate Earth Day April 22nd. Let’s just say, spring is in the air and with that, it’s time to talk environmental issues.

On the agenda? Recycling plastic.

Oh no! Not again!? Yes, again.

Here’s why; as per January 1, 2018, China stopped importing recyclable plastic from the USA.

Maybe you missed the news, and maybe you are wondering why that is worth blogging about. Well, before this year, China took the majority of our plastic waste (16 million tons in 2016), recycled it, and turned it into plastic goods made in China. Even though most of those plastic items I am sure were unnecessary, this procedure meant that at least some our discarded plastic jugs, lids, boxes and wrappers got used for something.

When you add the fact that so many container ships sail half-empty back to Asia because of the huge trade deficit, filling containers with plastic scrap made even more sense from an environmental standpoint.

So, why did China decide to stop accepting “free” raw material? You probably think that sounds like a bad idea, especially since they already have the facilities and manufacturing equipment to recycle huge amounts of plastic.

The reason why China is saying “no more” is they are cleaning up their act and marketing themselves that way. That term includes more than implementing carbon taxes and reducing air pollution by shutting down coal plants; it includes looking good and clean. They are tired of drowning in plastic and having messy factories full of bins of materials; sometimes contaminated and always needing sorting. They want to buy newly made raw materials; neat, streamlined, no need for warehouses full of “stuff”.

I’d like to argue that the clean “green” thing to do would be to keep accepting discarded plastic for recycling and to use less virgin plastic materials in their manufacturing of goods. They’re helping us ALL recycle! (That’s good marketing too.) The decision to stop imports is upsetting the market and undoing decades of progress in handling scraps. That said, it’s not exactly fair to put the recycling responsibility on one country alone either.

The west coast is now drowning in the plastic that China used to pick up. We don’t have the facilities to deal with it and let’s not forget, the biggest pushers for consuming virgin plastic are American chemical companies working against local recycling infrastructure (laughing all the way to the bank when they heard China’s big news).

It should also be noted that China is one of the top polluters when it comes to plastic in our oceans. Turns out, they don’t have the infrastructure to deal with plastic either. So what’s worse? Our “recycled yoghurt cup” being shipped to China, maybe falling into the river and flowing into the ocean or it being buried alive in an American landfill, spewing methane?

Can we all just agree as a society in whole we SUCK at taking responsibility for used plastic? (Yes.)

Now we are at the “So what can we do?” part of this blog post!

Whooop! My favorite part.

recycling plastic

1. We must STOP thinking that throwing plastic in the recycling bin is an eco-friendly thing to do. Our goal should always be to look down our recycling bin and see mostly carton, metal and glass (if accepted in your area or you might have to drive to a station to recycle) in a half-empty bin. We should leave as much packaging in the store as possible. Now, I love chips just as much as the next person, but I am not pretending that the bag will end up anywhere but landfill. I know that is where it’s going and I have to decide how much I want quinoa puffs today based on that fact. Let’s no longer pretend that an item that doesn’t get recycled, magically does (“wishcycling”). Knowing what really happens, helps us make better choices. Studies have shown that people who believe items are recycled, consume MORE. Read about plastic and its recyclability here.

2. We must purchase and support local makers who use recycled material. You can read more about recycling and get ideas for brands in this post. If you are buying Chinese, or other imported goods, look for recycled content! Our goal is to let the market know that we care about where the raw materials used in a product comes from.

3. Even though we live in a plastic polluted world, companies who use recycled plastic still have an issue getting enough of it for their production lines. Like I said, we don’t have the infrastructure in place. We can help by asking specific companies what they need and provide it directly to them. For example US based, eco-company Preserve accepts number 5 plastics (yogurt cups, hummus jars) back via their Gimme 5 program (bins available at certain Whole Foods). American Oka-B and Canadian Kamik footwear companies accept and recycle worn-out styles as well.

4. Write to your favorite politicians and inform active members in your community about this issue. Volunteer in a recycling and waste handling committee where you live if you have time :)

Those are my ideas for doing something about this issue! What are some of yours?

I am definitely not the “perfect plastic free citizen” but every action to reduce matters. Do you think about plastic when you go about your day? Have you made progress in reducing your plastic consumption this year so far? Let me know :)

What is Climate Change? 17 questions answered.

My husband just sent me this AMAZING article from the New York Times:

Climate change questions answered

I don’t normally just share an article without putting my own words to it, however this one just NEEDS TO BE READ. And shared.

Please share it. Send it on to the “doubters” (who act like this is religion to be “believed in” when in fact, it is fact).

This article covers brilliantly what climate change actually is, how it works, what the repercussions are and provides the proof behind each answer.

Of course, they also answer the question: What can we do?

Read their tips and also find lots of inspiration here on the blog. So often, after we’ve talked about switching our light bulbs and travelling less, we forget to mention a “little” problem I like to call overconsumption of goods. That’s where many my tips and posts come in handy :)

*****

Here is the direct link:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/climate/what-is-climate-change.html

30 SUPER SIMPLE eco-friendly ways to combat climate change (for the average Joe!)

Super storms Harvey and Irma have shook the nation. And with that, no one active on social media has been able to avoid articles about how climate change (in other words we) may have caused these storms.

Though we haven’t exactly caused them, the warmer water in the ocean – a result of man-made climate change – has made these storms stronger and bigger.

Some people pretend money is what is holding them back from living a greener life, however eco-bloggers have again and again proven that that is not a valid excuse. Others claim they  “don’t have the time to make an effort”. (I think what is really holding people back is they don’t want to make an effort, also known as laziness.)

A wise man once said it’s not about having time, it’s about taking time. And these resent storms may have changed people’s attitude a little, making this the time to start thinking about taking the time to kick start some new habits which prevent further climate change. We can’t take back the warming that’s already been done, but we can slow down. Hopefully setting our children up for a better starting point when they are ready to come up with awesome ways to carbon capture and make salt water into fresh water without using too much energy.

Now, without further ado,

Here are my 30 SUPER SIMPLE budget-friendly and time-friendly green habits!

1. Buy organic food when it’s sitting right in front of you at the grocery store.

2. Use reusable produce bags and check out bags (keep them in your car!).

3. Never bag produce that don’t need to be bagged – see this post for more tips.

4. REFUSE straws when you’re eating and drinking out – every time.

5. Buy recycled batteriestoilet paper, kitchen towels and trash bags.

6. Use bio-based, all natural washing liquid and dishwasher soap/detergent.

7. Switch your plastic bottled shower gel for bar soap.

8. Use cloth kitchen towels to clean messes as much as possible.

9. Switch ground beef for turkey or better yet pea protein for ALL ground beef recipes.

10. Switch beef burgers for delicious black bean burgers.

11. Order a proper amount of food at restaurants so you don’t need to-go boxes, yet don’t waste food.

12. Never get cheesecake to go.

13. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth, do dishes or wash your face.

14. Don’t buy clothes you don’t need (especially made in China). You do NOT need a new dress for every occasion. No one will remember what you wore.

15. Don’t buy home decorations you don’t need (especially made in China) including Christmas and Halloween junk.

16. Shop toys and baby items second hand. Babies and young kids don’t know where their things come from.

17. Buy eggs from locally pasture-raised hens (packed in cardboard not Styrofoam).

18. Vote for politicians who care about the environment and support a future based on only renewable energy.

19. Support an environmental charity via a monthly auto-draft. Most organizations let you start as low as $5 per month if funds are tight. Set it up once, then forget :)

20. Stop buying soda, reduce the amount you buy or get a soda stream to make your own.

21. Follow my blog and instagram @sustainableanna for more tips :)

22. Stop buying bottled water at the store for your family to just “drink at home”.

23. Order chicken or veggies instead of steak at restaurants.

24. Bring a reusable water bottle and/or coffee mug from home with you every day!

25. Wash and reuse aluminum foil. No reason not to!

26. Switch your dairy yoghurt for coconut yoghurt.

27. Recycle!

28. Skip one phone upgrade, for example go from the I-phone 5 straight to the 7.

29. Avoid buying, wearing and washing polyester clothing  (or get a fiber-catcher.)

30. Switch your make-up remover and body lotion (plastic bottles) to coconut oil (glass).

There are more things you can do, like go vegan, go zero waste, buy an electric car, stop travelling, bike more, get solar panels, yada, yada, yada. But today I am not asking you to change anything major in your life for the eco-cause. My goal is not to scare you off. That’s why I love that this list is about simplicity.

Doing (some of) these super simple, minimal effort things, actually mean you care about plastic free oceans, clean air, climate change and preventing future EVEN BIGGER storms.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming or hard! And you’ll feel great getting started :)

Harvey who?

Hurricane Harvey, a whole lotta rain, and how you can chip in

Hi all!

Please excuse the silence here on the blog while we are dealing with and following along with Tropical Storm Harvey and the devastating flooding situation in Houston. My family is doing great. We are dry, safe, and without a drop of water inside.

I have friends who’s houses have flooded, are completely stranded in their homes or have been separated from family. So yes, we’re doing great.

IMG_3244

Caitlin, who lives in Lafayette, LA, and writes the great blog EcoCajun, put together a great list of how you can help the people of Houston and surrounding areas, affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“Being so close to Texas, and with Louisiana potentially in Harvey’s crosshairs this week, the devastation is all I can think about. After the historic flooding in Lafayette and Baton Rouge last August, it’s even more heartbreaking to watch Texas go through the same thing. The emotions are still so raw for so many in South Louisiana who have recovered and are still recovering from last year.”

Here’s HOW TO HELP THOSE AFFECTED BY HARVEY.

Thank you Caitlin for putting together a list when I am too distracted to get to blog work!

Stay safe out there! And here’s to hoping you all stay dry too.

xo Anna

If you’re not buying recycled products, you’re not really recycling

If you’re not buying products made from recycled materials, you’re not really recycling.

I read this statement the other day, and it stuck with me because it’s so true (and people forget).

Recycling is an energy consuming process. It is not the solution to our waste issues, our plastic oceans and high consumption of resources, but a last resort that can minimize the carbon footprint of our modern, on-the-go, lives. IF we use the materials that come out of recycling, that is.

Here’s the twist; most of USA’s plastic “recyclables” are exported to China. There, they are used to make everything from fleece jackets to stadium seats. China imports around 40% of the world’s plastic scrap, so if you buy “recycled plastic products” from China, chances are the material came from your curb. It’s a crazy world (and sadly, China is drowning in western trash).

Another twist to the plastic recycling business is that many processing centers actually don’t have the funds to recycle low grade plastics anymore, like plastic bags and produce containers (think cherry tomatoes and strawberries) so they end up in landfill or being incinerated (dioxin pollution!) anyway.

Why? Because there is NO DEMAND for the products that can be made from low grade plastic.

So yes, we must stop consuming plastic like it is “recyclable”. We need to avoid it like the plague! Plus, whenever possible, we must choose recycled products.

In a perfect world we should not be shipping off our “trash” to other countries but recycle it locally, so in an effort to get there, we should buy locally manufactured products made from recycled materials.

Of course not just plastic, the other recyclables too; paper, glass, metals, clothes.

Need ideas? Ok!

Reusable water bottles

Liberty BottleWorks make lightweight and durable bottles from recycled aluminum in Washington State. In fact, it’s the only US-made 100% recycled metal bottle in the market.

Liberty BottleWorks take pride in having a zero waste factory and allocating a portion of their sales to environmental organizations and community services.

Did you know that recycling aluminum saves a lot of waste? While 2.2 lbs of aluminum extracted from the earth creates almost 200 lbs of waste in the process, 2.2 lbs of recycled aluminum creates only 7.5.

Batteries

Can an environmentalist live without using “disposable batteries”? Almost. Smoke detectors, wireless keyboards and baby gear use them though.

Energizer now has batteries made from 4% recycled batteries. I know that sounds low, but it’s a start! By voting with our dollars and buying these instead of regular batteries, hopefully that percentage will go up, up, up. (Always check where batteries are made. There is absolutely no reason to buy made in Asia, when made in USA costs the same.)

Toilet paper, kitchen towels, trash bags

We actually really like Seventh Generation’s paper products and I encourage everyone to make the switch to 100% recycled paper. Think you can’t afford anything but the bargain brand? Well, the solution to that is to use less paper, by opting for cloth napkins and cotton towels 99% of the time. We keep paper kitchen towels around for picking up the occasional dead cockroach or wiping greasy pans (then compost).

Did you know that if every household in the USA switched just one packet of eight kitchen towels to recycled paper we’d collectively save 3,400,000 trees in a year?

Seventh Generation’s large trash bags is a better choice as well, as they are made from 65% post-consumer recycled plastic. Think you can’t afford anything but the bargain brand? Well, the solution to that is to use fewer bags by creating less trash. Avoid one-time-use items and start a compost for food scraps.

Did you know that if every household in the USA replaced just one package of 14 count trash bags made from virgin plastic with 65% recycled ones, we could save 221,000 barrels of oil?

Plastic bottles (when/if we must)

If you’re buying shampoo or drinks in plastic bottles, look for the symbol that tells you part of the bottle was made from recycled plastic. Every bit of fossil fuel saving helps.

recycling USA recycled material

For the kids

Green Toys Inc. have a bunch of different products likes buckets, water toys, kitchen play sets, cars, airplanes and an awesome green recycling truck. All their toys are non-toxic, safe, BPA- and phalate-free, and made in USA from curbside collected recyclables.

Re-Play make their products using only recycled milk jugs. While Green Toys focus on play, Re-Play has all the essentials for baby dinner time.  Eco-friendly and made in USA.

Did you know that for every pound of recycled milk jugs used to make products, enough energy is saved to power a TV for three weeks straight?

Cookware

SCANPAN utilizes 100% recycled aluminum – aluminum that might previously have served as beer cans, bicycle frames or something else. These pans are made in Denmark though (from aluminum consumed over there naturally!).

Did you know that 75% of the world’s produced aluminum is still being used, over and over, thanks to recycling efforts?

There are countless products using recycled materials! We just need to make it a habit to read labels so we can pick them out from the rest. Remember, if you’re not buying products made from recycled materials, you’re not really recycling.

Got a favorite “recycling” brand? Please share it in the comments! :)

Read more about recycling and material’s recyclability here, at Going Zero Waste.

 

Five “help the planet” ways to celebrate Earth Day!

Earth day 2017 is this week; April 22nd!

Our lovely and diverse planet certainly deserves some extra attention and helpful hands during these strange times (leaving the Paris Climate Agreement? Come on! Is he for real?) – what better day to provide just that than Earth Day?

And, yes, this is a repost from last year’s Earth Day post; I have a newborn in the house and reusing is a good thing ;)

Now, here are five earth-friendly ideas for Earth Day, that’ll make a difference and hopefully kickstart some healthy and sustainable habits! 

Earth Day action items

1. Do a “Zero Waste” day

Create awareness about our dependency on single-use-plastic and packaging by attempting to do a “zero waste” day! (That means you shouldn’t create any trash all day.)

Bring your reusable water bottle, coffee mug, a fabric towel and a set of utensils everywhere you go. Say no to the receipt, buy in bulk and bring your own shopping bags, produce bags and containers to the store if you need to go grocery shopping. No need for anything fancy, as long as it’s all reusable!

(If you must buy something packaged, pick metal or cardboard containers which you, of course, must recycle. Plastic is strictly forbidden. More tips here)

2. Go Vegan

That’s no dairy, no eggs and no meat for the day. Discover how nutritious and great plant-based foods taste and make you feel! 

Keep in mind that butter and milk are in a lot of processed or cooked foods so read all the tags, ask questions at restaurants and dare to be “difficult” if you need to be. Indian, Thai and Mediterranean restaurants often offer good vegan choices.

(Yes, thank goodness wine is vegan, so go ahead and have that glass!)

3. Share transport, bike or walk 

Leave your car at home and take a ride with a colleague, friend or the local bus. Or better yet; walk or bike if distance and bike lanes allow.

4. Skip the shower 

Save some water and lots of chemicals from going down the drain by skipping the shower. I’m sure you can “make it” another day without… You might end up getting a new creative hairdo out of it! ;)

5. Plant a Tree 

If you’re feeling lazy and the four above are daunting – start with something simple like supporting a non-profit that benefits the planet! My favorite is Stand for Trees. For every 10 dollars you spend, you compensate 1 tonne of CO2, support a forest community and they won’t offer a tacky gift or ask for your home address – no risk for spammy snail mail. (The average American emits 20 tonnes of CO2 per year.)

You can get involved and do good at EarthDay.org as well.

If we all did these thing everyday, imagine the cooling effect it would have on our climate! But for now, I am just challenging you to attempt them all, as well as you can, on Saturday – I know y’all like small steps.

How are you celebrating Earth Day?

Five easy ways to reduce grocery store waste – without planning ahead!

Ever found yourself at the grocery store or market completely unprepared? 

“It’s just so hard to remember the reusable bags when I go to the store! And sometimes I have them in my car but leave them out there and don’t remember until I’m almost done!”

I’ve heard this statement a few times. I am not really sure why it’s a big deal to go get the bags in the car, but apparently it is. Probably because the kids are DONE with shopping at that point, and the freezer section items are already in cart (do enlighten me, lazy bunch!)

Let’s leave the car-bags scenario off the table for now and consider if you’ve come to the grocery store completely unprepared: no reusable (shopping and produce) bags to be seen. Maybe you just stopped on your way home from work or an outing. How annoying!

But, are there ways you can reduce your waste output anyway? 

Yes!

Here’s my quick guide to bringing home less packaging, waste and fewer plastic bags, even when you are completely unprepared.

1. Most produce don’t need a bag!

Pineapple, melon, kiwi, carrots, potatoes, oranges, onions, avocados, eggplant; anything protected by a peel does not need a bag, so skip the produce bag altogether. Tomatoes, cucumber and bell peppers (most veggies) actually have a protective layer and the dirt you bring upon them from riding the cart is minimal compared to what they’ve already been through before you picked them up. However, I get that it can seem strange to let them go bare. Start with produce with peels and work up the courage to never bag anything – except tiny things like mushrooms and berries that could literally fall through the bottom of the cart if you don’t. (Reuse any bags you do take!)

While you are in the produce department, ask if you can have the lid of a banana box – you’ll use this to pack in later.

Zero waste plastic free grocery shopping
“We don’t want plastic covers – we want to ride bare!”

2. Go for paper cartons, glass containers or metal cans

Rice, beans, eggs, sugar, flour, baking soda and other items will provide you with the choice between paper cartons and plastic packaging like bags or styrofoam (yuck!). Always go for carton, it’s recyclable (and/or compostable).

So is glass and metal, which makes these two materials good choices as well when selecting items like sauces, oils, PB and jams. Of course, you have to remember to recycle them!

3. Place the things you don’t absolutely need on hold

I’m sure you’ve got a few items on your list (or on your mind) that you planned on buying this time, which you could actually do without another couple of days. Leave them at the store until your next shopping trip, one when you hopefully remember your reusable produce, bread, bulkbin and check out bags. 

4. If all else fails – Skip the dairy

If your cart is filling up with plastic anyway, maybe you need some pre-made foods to get you through the week ( NO judging here!) you might feel bad about all the waste you’re creating. Lessen the blow by skipping the dairy aisle! Yes, dairy is a waste nightmare: a farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people. There are many good alternatives to diary, just a browse away (in the dairy section).

5. Be alert at check out

No time to snooze! Tell the crew to not use any plastic bags, you have a banana box in your cart! Big, bulky items like juice jugs, six packs of beer, paper towels and such, can go straight in the cart since you’ll be driving the cart to your car.

In order to encourage stores to stop printing receipts remember to say “no thank you” to receipts and printed coupons too. Did you know that the material that makes receipts “shiny” to the touch is actually BPA – a dangerous plastic coating PROVEN to be hormone disrupting? Knowing that, you don’t want to touch that receipt anyway, on a waste saving mission or not. 

(If your favorite foods in the whole world come in plastic or simply has too much packing, email the maker. Tell them to rethink their packaging: reduce or switch. If we all reach out when we see bad eco-habits, we can make a change!)

Do you have any other tips and tricks for the unprepared when it comes to avoiding waste at the grocery store? Let me know!