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.
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.
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.
“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
Nature is not cancelled, pollinators are not cancelled, blooming trees and plants are not cancelled. There is a whole world of beauty outside our homes and from our windows. On this fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, celebrations are going virtual, but as individuals I hope we can each think about what our wonderful world means to us. We are all connected and our collective action against Coronavirus is working. Let the healing of our Earth and our people begin, and lets put our collective action together to make a better world. Because we are all connected let’s come out of this crisis stronger as a people and stronger as a society. Our resilience will get us through this. I have a daily activity for everyday as we celebrate and count down to Earth Day. I hope you will join me. Please have fun, connect to nature, experience the hope of spring, be kind, and be part of a healing world!
Collective action to reduce our meat consumption*** can make a big difference. Monday is a good day to try a new vegetarian dish. Find a recipe for Lentil Cacciatore here. It has been amazing how popular beans have been in this crisis. The grocery store shelves for beans are still empty, and I hope we are cooking and making healthy food choices. Enjoy a meatless day!
Plastic-free/Zero waste Tuesday
Spending the day at home makes it easy to be plastic-free. Always use real dishes, utensils and glasses/cups. 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 food waste.
Clean water and water use have become crucial topics. Flooding and droughts are happening everyday, and we all have a right to clean drinking water. Become aware of your water usage and how lucky you are to have inexpensive clean drinking water. Water Wednesday is to concentrate on our water usage. It is a day to pick up litter, sweep our sidewalks, and clean debris from our storm drains. Redirect your drainspouts onto your lawn, and figure where you could plant a raingarden?Is there a place in your yard or porch/balcony you could add some native plants the bees and butterflies love? Collective positive energy works!
Thoughtful Thursday Everyday should be kind and thoughtful, but make a special effort today. Our collective actions for kindness can make a difference. Put water in your bird baths, fill your bird feeders, check-in with someone you haven’t seen or heard from in awhile. Be kind and smile.
Become totally engaged in your surroundings. Create a scavenger hunt: look for sidewalk art, a butterfly, a beautiful tree. Look for blooming flowers, a bird building a nest, something that surprises you or a special cloud. Everyone that finds something new wins!
Singing Saturday What sounds of nature catch your attention? I have birds singing outside my window. Ducks are flying overhead, frogs and crickets will sing soon. Maybe the wind or a rushing creek give you peace. Listen for an enjoyable sound, or maybe listen for complete quiet. Find peace in nature.
What ever your spiritual practice, nature can heal us. Today find beauty and love whether through the gospel, through a poem or picture, time outside or a meditation. Dare to dream. Spend the day focusing on what you love and finding beauty in your day. If the weather permits go for a long walk. What do you love, how can you have more of what you love in your life? Find quiet beauty from your walk or from your window. Wishing you peace.
***”Now is the time to try out any plant-based recipes you’ve saved. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants that keep your immune system strong, and they have a lower carbon footprint, too. For example, beef is about 34 times more climate pollution–intensive than beans and lentils, pound for pound. If you’re finding it hard to keep your produce fresh given your newly limited shopping habits, get creative. Whir brown bananas into smoothies, or simmer soft tomatoes into sauce. There are plenty of ways to salvage fruits and veggies slightly past their prime. So boost your repertoire. Share recipes with friends. And come out on the other side of this crisis a climate-friendly chef.” NRDC
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:
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.
Can we meet the challenge? Our planet is burning up, and where I live we are experiencing continual record rain events. Our world lacks sensible elected leaders, therefore, we all must act. If everyone does a little it adds up to a lot!
First, get out and march. The Global Climate Strike is Friday, September 20, create your own event or find an event near you here.
Next, be mindful as to how you can buy less and waste less. Pay attention to your trash. What can you reuse, recycle, donate, or avoid completely? How can reuse your food scraps? All of our actions matter!
Because of the extreme weather 7 million people have been displaced. This is huge and wars are being fought over displaced people. Climate justice will be an enormous topic of the future.
Thankfully, the media is starting to pay attention to our building crisis. Time Magazine, Reveal and PBS have done some outstanding segments.
Reducing single-use plastic consumption is an important way we can make a positive change for our earth. We can make a big difference, and change the way we live our lives. Let’s start with One Plastic-Free Day, June 6. It’s not easy reducing your plastic foot-print, but it is possible. Becoming aware of all the plastic we purchase helps to start making change.
It is my hope that if we don’t purchase plastic items corporations will realize they need to make bottles and containers out of something that decomposes and can be composted. The plastic and oil industry will do everything they can to stop progress. That is why the consumer needs to speak!
Plastics are found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the fish we eat. I think this raises the bar that we need to make changes to our plastic life-style and fast.
My plastic-free journey has taken several years, it has been challenging, but fun at the same time. Filling bottles and containers with bulk item has just become habit. Food co-ops make it easy. It just takes a little organization to make a grocery list and figure which containers are needed for filling. I reuse the bottles and containers I have accumulated from earlier purchases. Also, we never eat at places that don’t use real dishes and utensils, but are still trying to remember to say, “No straw!” We never leave home without reusable water bottles and washable reusable bags. This past year we have begun making cookies, yogurt and humus with items from bulk shopping. Something I never wanted to take on, but now I make it fun, and zero waste cooking is healthy, rewarding and satisfying.
What are some items that are impossible to purchase in bulk and need to come in plastic?
Here are a few quick easy zero waste ideas from my local county: “There are many ways to avoid single-use items. Want a quick list? Pack your lunch in reusable containers. Forgo the straw in your drink. Bring your own mug to the coffee shop. Bring reusable bags, produce bags and containers to the grocery store. Support businesses that serve food on reusable dishes.” Hennepin County
Recycling is important, but it just isn’t enough to solve our plastic problem. What is the solution? Last week I had this letter (below) published in the http://www.startribune.com/ in response to Target rolling out their new “green” products:
Earth-friendly line is insufficient; stop stocking single-use plastic
Plastic bottles, plastic bottles — Target must have missed the memo on how harmful single-use plastic is to our Earth (“Target rolls out earth-friendly household goods,” April 23). To be truly green, Target needs to offer consumers the ability to refill their own bottles with these new “green” products. Customers who care about all the plastic in our environment can now reuse and refill their bottles at Minnesota’s excellent food co-ops, or the new zero-waste Tare Market in Minneapolis where consumers can save money and help our environment at the same time. Many of these bulk products are even Minnesota-sourced. Let’s move to the paradigm of reusing instead of adding more single-use plastic to our landfills, and I’m encouraging Target to become the business leader in this reuse/refill movement. health4earth
Shopping at a grocery store or drug store is one of the most frustrating things I do, everything is packaged in plastic. Luckily, I have some excellent food coops a bus ride away from my house. I save containers and refill them with bulk items. A local meat department in a local grocery store will even refill my containers with meat purchases, which even my coops won’t refill. Science 101 has one of the best articles on reducing plastic that I have ever read, and I learned things from them. Start with a few items to refill. When you get the idea and feel comfortable move to add more plastic-free items. Here is Science 101’s article, on easy ways to reduce plastic. Refilling containers can be fun and satisfying.
Only 9 percent of the plastic every produced has been recycled, and no one knows how many hundreds of years it will pollute our environment. It breaks into tiny pieces, ends up in our water sources, is in our food and kills wildlife! Why is plastic harmful? Read here.
Coops will help you get started refilling containers, and I am willing to help if you ask. Let’s all work to reduce our plastic foot-print.