What is Zero-Waste?

Refuse, Reuse, Recycle

I use the term zero waste often. It is a daily goal in my household, a goal we work for every day.  Everything we purchase has an impact on our environment from our use of materials and natural resources to the emissions created for manufacturing. Then there is the end of life of a product. Will it sit in a landfill for 500 years polluting the ground and air surrounding it, can it be reused many times, or can it be turned into a new product?

Manufacturing, landfills, garbage burning, and hazardous waste contribute enormously to our warming planet. We need to take all our trash and waste seriously. Remember food waste is waste too!

Unfortunately, we have a long way to go to reach a zero-waste future.  Walking through a grocery or drugstore highlights how far we still have to go. Almost everything is packaged in plastic. Plastic that can’t be recycled!  As consumers we can try to purchase products with a minimum of packaging or refuse to purchase them completely. I often call manufacturers like Field Roast, Morningstar and Bob’s Redmill to request they start to use recyclable packaging.  Currently, in the United States only 9 to 10% of our plastic is recycled. We have a long way to go and need to begin to hold producers of plastic responsible so they produce packaging that can be recycled or reused.

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is how we need to live. Every product we purchase affects our environment; So, before you buy, ask yourself if you really need it? If you do, consider buying gently used instead of new, and look for minimal packaging and shipping.

My county, Hennepin, is creating plans for a zero-waste future:

Hennepin County’s zero-waste vision is a waste management system where all materials are designed to become resources for others to use to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. The key performance measure is diverting 90% or more of all discarded materials from landfills and incinerators.” Hennepin County

Zero waste is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean. Currently, only 9% of plastic is actually recycled. In a zero waste system, material will be reused until the optimum level of consumption.” The definition adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA)

Watch The Story of Stuff and learn more about the zero waste movement.

In the United States 30% of our food is wasted. A huge waste of energy, labor and resources. https://www.usda.gov/foodlossandwaste

This is excellent! https://www.ecowatch.com/how-to-store-produce.html

3 Sustainable Choices

A new year, new habits!

“Small acts when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world!” Greenpeace

The new year has arrived, and we all have the best intentions to have a fresh beginning. With all the uncertainty and discord around us, focusing on something bigger than ourselves helps to rise above all the confusion. Choose to do things that are fun and make you feel better about your place in society.

New goals and new ideas help stimulate new interests and are good for our mental health.  First of all, don’t worry about being perfect, just do something different. No one is perfect, but if everyone does something it adds up to big things for us and our community.

Millions of people around the world have been harmed by storms and our warming world during the past year. With all the harm humans have done to our planet the last hundreds of years, our warming Earth is struggling to find some equilibrium, and we can all lessen our negative impact. By reducing our consumption of the Earth’s resources, we can help our corner of the world and make a big difference. My ideas are to help you think of ways you can make a positive difference and hopefully have fun!

Every day my household works on three big things to reduce our consumption of the Earth’s resources:

Reduce meat consumption

1. Cutting meat consumption and always celebrating meatless Mondays. There are so many meatless options in the frozen food section of grocery stores it can be easy and fun. The hard part is finding meatless options without increasing plastic pollution. Here are some ideas to get you started. Vegan Recipes To Help You Eat Less Meat : Life Kit : NPR  

Quick & Easy Vegetarian Recipes | EatingWell

Vegan Recipes To Help You Eat Less Meat : Life Kit : NPR 

How is plastic in our food affecting our health?

2. Reducing plastic is paramount.  Plastic creates waste and litter, it contributes to climate change, pollutes our water and is harmful to wildlife.  It is concerning how plastic affects our health and what it’s impacts might be for us. We have a lot to learn about how plastic is harming our health. Please reduce your consumption of plastic. Start by using reusable bags, cups and bottles, and then you will slowly learn new ways to reduce plastic in your environment. So much plastic can’t be recycled, but if you must purchase items in plastic, make sure it can be recycled.

Irritable bowel syndrome linked to more microplastics in gut (nypost.com)

end food waste

30 to 40% of food in the USA is wasted!

3. Reduce Food waste.  Food waste is a total waste of water, labor, time and energy. First start with your shopping, don’t buy more than you can use. Buying in bulk is a good way to regulate how much you purchase (bulk can reduce plastic waste also). Second, staying on top of what items are in your refrigerator/freezer is extremely important. Maybe have an “eat first shelf.” I keep a container in my refrigerator to accumulate celery tops and other vegetable scraps for weekly soup making or stir fry.  Finally, turning leftovers into a new meal is one of the best things about cooking. Make it fun and challenging! Wraps and rice bowls are winners!

How to Reduce Food Waste | Sierra Club

Below are many ways you can help our planet and also your soul:

Opinion | 10 New Year’s Resolutions That Are Good for the Soul – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

7 Ways to Make 2022 More Sustainable – Plastic Free Home – Environmental and Zero Waste Blog (theplasticfreehome.com)  

13 sustainable choices for your green life | Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (state.mn.us)  

3 eye-opening, science-based New Year’s resolutions that could help everyone | PBS NewsHour

12 Ways to Live More Sustainably (biologicaldiversity.org)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Plan For Leftovers

In my meetings some are wondering what big thing they can do to stop climate change. I think many people doing lots of little things to help our planet amount to a lot! We can all make a difference by buying less and wasting less. Thank you!

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills. (Source: EPA)

end food waste

Enjoy your leftovers!

Make a plan for your holiday left over food. What do you generally do  with left over food? 40% of the food  in the United States is not eaten, and ends up in our landfills causing an enormous waste of our precious resources. Wasting food is an enormous waste of water, money, time, labor, energy and transportation.  The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has an incredible education campaign to inform the public how much we are wasting.  For example the production of one egg takes 55 gallons of water! Their website is savethefood.com

Not only does wasting food, waste valuable resources and lots of water, but also food in our landfills decomposes creating and giving off methane gas which is a harmful air pollutant contributing to global warming

So let’s get creative and “Save the Food.” One of my favorite cooking activities is to reinvent leftovers into a new lunch or dinner stir fry, soup, tacos, enchiladas, salads, fried rice, quinoa bowls and many other things lend themselves to create special meals of leftover food.

Have a fun holiday, and make a creative difference by reusing, planning, seriously cutting waste, and saving food from the garbage!

The story of a strawberry here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WREXBUZBrS8

I am thankful for all the medical workers and teachers who have worked so hard during this pandemic! Thank you

3 things to do this week!

 

If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot!

I have three things I think everyone should do this week. Happy holidays!

1.Wrapping gifts (Ideas from MPR)

My husband’s wrapping

Despite its name, you actually can’t recycle most wrapping paper.  It contains too much foil and glitter.

The only types of wrapping paper that are recyclable are the ones that are one hundred percent made out of paper. This will most likely be the plain brown paper you’ve seen packages wrapped in. You can get creative and decorate the paper with drawings to spruce up the present.

Gifts in reusable cloth bags

You can get even more creative by using materials that you already have to wrap your presents. You could use old newspapers and compost them or cloth bags and ribbon and reuse them next year. 

Gifts

You can give gifts to your friends, family and the environment all at once. You could give to a cause the person is passionate about, or plan a clothing swap all while creating zero waste.  

You also may want to consider supporting small businesses this year by shopping locally rather than getting things delivered. 

2. Don’t Waste food. 

Food waste picture
Wasting food wastes water, energy and labor!

Wasted food is a huge contributor to global warming and climate change. It is a waste of energy, labor, and water, often contributing to air and water pollution. Rotting food in landfills contributes more air and water pollution.  In the United States we waste 40% of our food, and we can all do better. Read about it at Save The Food 

Cook only what you need and have a plan for using leftovers.

3. Take an AWE walk

Find beauty in your neighborhood!

Take a healthy mindful walk and pay attention! Leave your phone and headphones at home. Look at the beauty of the trees, the sunshine and landscape. Listen for the wind and birds.  Find something you love and something that surprises you. Unwind and enjoy!

Zero Waste Wednesday

end food waste
Help the environment by reducing food waste

Food waste is a waste of water, a waste of energy and transportation, and a waste of time and labor. Making an effort to reduce food waste is an important thing we can all do for the economy and the Earth. In America 40 percent of the food produced is wasted!

We waste too much food, and there is a food crisis with this pandemic. Many are unemployed, and lines are long at food shelves, which are experiencing a massive demand. A  big disconnect, many are starving, and at the same time we waste lots of food! Today, no recipe required, instead of throwing food away use your creativity to create a meal with left overs and produce you have in your house. Can you make an omelet, soup, wrap, or stir fry with what you have? Have fun, be creative!

“Even before COVID-19, Americans, on average, were tossing away more than a pound of uneaten food per person each day, amounting to some 400 pounds of food thrown out annually. That’s far more than any other wealthy country — about 50% more food waste per capita than France and nearly double that of the U.K. According to U.S. government estimates, the cost of U.S. food waste comes out to $161 billion annually. The environmental costs are abysmal.” Read the article by Amanda Little  here.

These are important facts we should be aware of, from the IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Food production causes 30 % of greenhouse emissions, 80% of global deforestation, and uses 70% of the world’s fresh water!

Too much food is waste!
How can you use those leftovers?

 

Great suggestions for reducing your food waste.

Make your Wednesday zero waste!

Plastic-free/Zerowaste Tuesday

Sadly all the shopping restrictions have made plastic-free shopping more difficult. Even my food coop won’t allow me to fill my own containers, but as we shop we can still work to purchase items with a minimum of packaging and strive for less waste.  Hopefully, in a few months things can safely start to get back to normal.

real plates
Always use real dishes, utensils, and glasses.

Spending the day at home makes it easy to be plastic-free. Always use real dishes, utensils and glasses/cups. Read about my plastic-free day here.

Too much food is waste!
How can you use those leftovers?

Make Tuesday the day to use up food left-overs from the week. Create wraps, soups or a stew from your left overs. Before the Coronavirus  40% of food was wasted in the United States. With so many hanging out at home I suspect that number is now lower. Let’s save water, labor and energy, and continue to reduce our food waste.

Food waste picture
Wasting food wastes water, energy and labor!

“Learn strategies to reduce food waste at Save the Food, (www.savethefood.com) and commit to taking action. Some ideas: improve your meal planning and stick to your grocery list, store food to make it last, reorganize and inventory your refrigerator or pantry, and keep track of perishable items and use them up before they spoil.” Hennepin County

Waste Not!

Too much food is waste!
How can you use those leftovers? Foods waste is responsible for 8% of yearly global emissions

We have a serious problem. 40% of the food in the United States is wasted, and 30% of food worldwide is wasted. What a ridiculous waste of energy, money and water. Read more here.

At the same time over 800 million people don’t have enough to eat, and more land is being cleared everyday for more agriculture. Rotting food waste in landfills creates methane gas that causes pollution. Each one of us needs to reduce our food waste. I have said many times this is one of the hardest things for me to deal with in trying to help our climate crisis.  Reducing food waste takes constant vigilance. This week I came home from the farmers market with rotten apples and cucumbers. Being a more thoughtful shopper and buying just what I needed could have helped.

These are important facts we should be aware of, from the IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Food production causes 30 % of greenhouse emissions, 80% of global deforestation, and uses 70% of the world’s fresh water!

My advice for managing food waste and working for zero waste in my home:

Shop in bulk
Buying in bulk is a good way to manage food waste  and packaging waste. Bring your own container!

1. First, be mindful of your perishables, use your freezer, buy in bulk to get just what you need, and become aware that gluttony is a form of food waste

2. I save celery tops, onions and raw produce waste to put in a stir fry or soup. One of my favorite things about cooking is how I can use leftovers creatively. I love making wraps, rice or quinoa bowls with food leftovers.

3. Expiration dates are not something I obsess over. Most of the time food is good long past the date.

Help the environment by reducing food waste

What things do you do to reduce food waste?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using Food a WIN-WIN

 

 Cook it,   Soup it,   Taco it,    Stir fry it,   Eat it,   Freeze it,   Share it 

                             Be creative

How did you manage your Thanksgiving left overs? What do you generally do  with left over food? 40% of the food  in the United States is not eaten, and ends up in our landfills causing an enormous waste of our precious resources. Wasting food is an enormous waste of water, money, time, labor, energy and transportation.  The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has an incredible education campaign to inform the public how much we are wasting.  For example the production of one egg takes 55 gallons of water!Their website is savethefood.com

So let’s get creative and “Save the Food.” One of my favorite cooking activities is to reinvent leftovers into a new lunch or dinner. Stir fry, soups, tacos, enchiladas, salads, fried rice, and many other things lend themselves to create special meals of uneaten foods.

Not only does wasting food, waste valuable resources and lots of water, but also food in our landfills decomposes creating and giving off methane gas which is a harmful air pollutant contributing to global warming.
From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills. (Source: EPA)

Have a fun holiday month, but make a creative difference by reusing, planning, seriously cutting waste, and saving food from your garbage!

The story of a strawberry here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WREXBUZBrS8

Ready for City Composting?

Backyard Compost Collection
Backyard Compost Collection  This is now frozen and covered by snow.

http://www.startribune.com/four-things-to-know-before-you-get-your-new-minneapolis-organics-bin/366901451/

Food waste composes about 30% of our landfill waste. If left to rot in landfills it can create green house gases, and if it is burned, it pollutes the air. We can change food waste into a new healthy material for our gardens and plants. The end result of food waste is compost. No fertilizer or chemicals needed with compost!
I am thrilled my city, Minneapolis, is beginning to collect food waste for composting. You need to sign up for a cart by February 1, 2016.
Below is a great video about commercial composting:

What do you use to collect food waste?
What do you use to collect food waste?

If you have participated in commercial composting in your city, give us some tips to help us learn about it.

Reduce Carbon Emissions, Day 5

960133_616554661744515_1305522394_nThis is Day 5, of a series of blogs on #31daysofreducingwaste. Today I am posting ideas from the New York Times on ways to reduce carbon waste.

To me these ideas seem easy, and I hope you can find something new you can do to reduce carbon waste and pollution.

Below is from the New York Times

What You Can Do About Climate Change

By JOSH KATZ and JENNIFER DANIEL DEC. 2, 2015

 Simple Guidelines for Thinking About Carbon Emissions

Global climate: it’s complicated. Any long-term solution will require profound changes in how we generate energy. At the same time, there are everyday things that you can do to reduce your personal contribution to a warming planet. Here are some simple guidelines on how your choices today affect the climate tomorrow, and reduce carbon waste

1.You’re better off eating vegetables from Argentina than red meat from a local farm.
 

Eating local is lovely, but most carbon emissions involving food don’t come from transportation — they come from production, and the production of red meat and dairy is incredibly carbon-intensive.

Emissions from red-meat production come from methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Experts disagree about how methane emissions should be counted in the planet’s emissions tally, but nearly everyone agrees that raising cattle and sheep causes warming that is an order of magnitude more than that from raising alternate protein sources like fish and chicken (the latter of which have the added benefit of creating eggs).

According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon, a typical household that replaces 30 percent of its calories from red meat and dairy with a combination of chicken, fish and eggs will save more carbon than a household that ate entirely local food for a full year.

Yes, eating nothing but locally grown fruits and vegetables would reduce your carbon footprint the most. But for people not ready to make that leap, reducing how much meat you eat matters more than going local.

2.Take the bus.
 

To give ourselves a good shot at avoiding severe effects such as widespread flooding of coastal cities or collapse of the food supply, scientists have determined there’s only so much carbon dioxide we can safely emit. Divvying up this global carbon fund among the world’s population (and making some assumptions about future emissions) gives you the average amount each person can burn per year over a lifetime — an annual “carbon budget.”

The current per capita emissions for Americans is about 10 times this limit, and given the relative affluence of this country, our emissions will not get down to the average anytime soon. But they can still fall from where they are. Consider this: If you drive to work alone every day, your commuting alone eats up more than your entire carbon budget for the year. Taking the bus — or biking! — would sharply reduce your output.

3.Eat everything in your refrigerator.
Scientists have estimated that up to 40 percent of American food is wasted — which amounts to almost 1,400 calories per person every day. Food waste occupies a significant chunk of our landfills, adding methane to the atmosphere as it decomposes. Even more important, wasted food adds to the amount of food that needs to be produced, which is already a big part of our carbon load.

How can you waste less? For food shopping, plan out meals ahead of time, use a shopping list and avoid impulse buys. At home, freeze food before it spoils. If you find yourself routinely throwing prepared food away, reduce portion sizes.

4.Flying is bad, but driving can be worse.
 

Remember that annual carbon budget we talked about? One round-trip flight between New York and Los Angeles, and it’s all gone. Fliers can reduce their footprint somewhat by traveling in economy class. First-class seats take up more room, which means more flights for the same number of people. On average, a first-class seat is two and a half times more detrimental to the environment than coach.

But as bad as flying can be, driving can be even worse. A cross-country road trip creates more carbon emissions than a plane seat. And while a hybrid or electric car will save on gas mileage, most electricity in the United States still comes from fossil fuels.

If you really want to mind your carbon emissions, taking a train or a bus is best, especially for shorter trips. Or try that Internet thing: A Skype call or Google Hangout produces very little carbon dioxide.

5.Replace your gas guzzler if you want, but don’t buy a second car.
 

Before you even start driving that new car to add to your first one, you’ve already burned up three and a half times your annual carbon budget. How? By encouraging the manufacturing of all of those raw materials and metals.

Yet there’s a break-even point at which the carbon savings from driving a new, more efficient car exceeds the carbon cost required to produce it. For example, on average, trading in a 15-mile-per-gallon S.U.V. for a 35-m.p.g. sedan offsets the extra manufacturing costs within two years.

Anything you do to improve mileage will reduce your carbon output. Keeping to the speed limit and driving defensively can improve your mileage by more than 30 percent, according to the Department of Energy. Even something as simple as keeping your tires inflated and having your engine tuned up can give you up to a 7 percent bump in m.p.g. — and an average carbon savings of about what you’d save from eating only local foods all year.

6.Buy less stuff, waste less stuff.
It’s not just car manufacturing that adds to carbon emissions. Other consumer goods can have a huge impact: Making that new MacBook Pro burns the same amount of carbon as driving 1,300 miles from Denver to Cupertino, Calif., to pick it up in person.

At the other end of the product life cycle, reducing waste helps. Each thing you recycle is one fewer thing that has to be produced, and reduces the amount of material that ends up in landfills. But the recycling process consumes energy as well, so — depending on the material — it may not be as helpful as you might think. Recycling a magazine every day for an entire year saves less carbon than is emitted from four days of running your refrigerator.

It’s better not to consume the raw materials in the first place, so you may want to think carefully about whether you’re really going to use something before you buy it.

NYTimes.com     http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/03/upshot/what-you-can-do-about-climate-change.html?_r=0

Below is my post on reducing carbon

https://health4earth.com/easy-things-you-can-do-to-help-stop-climate-change/

Purchasing recycled products saves raw materials
Purchasing recycled products saves raw materials