Reduce Your Food Waste

This past weekend, I had a new house mate move in. My current house mate and I had to clear out some space for our newcomer in the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator. The end result was a couple of large trash bags full of expired food that we’d been holding onto, unaware its shelf life had passed. Ever since I moved to New York, I have been grocery shopping for one - prior to that, I lived at home with my parents, and it seemed that groceries would magically appear in the refrigerator.

I don’t buy much at a time, since whatever I buy has to be schlepped home on foot. This reduces the amount of food that ends up in the trash; that has gone bad before I can eat it. We live in a society where a full refrigerator is the norm but here’s a tip - let your fridge and cabinets go empty every once in a while. If you find yourself throwing out fresh produce regularly, buy less, and make do with what you have. Finish everything in your fridge before you buy more. I like to make stew and soup out of any assortment of veggies that look a little sad - too old to taste good fresh, but not bad enough to throw away. This not only reduces food waste, but saves you money.

Americans waste over 150,000 tons of food per day. I believe we can do better than this. Relative to our income, food is cheap for Americans. If food were more expensive, we would be more mindful about what and how we consume it. The Atlantic wrote a fantastic piece on why Americans lead the world in food waste - according the article, because “calories are cheap and people are picky”.

If you have ideas on reducing food waste, please comment below or email me - I would love to read them.

Roxy's Guide to Sustainable Gifting

I love this time of year - the family and friends, the food, the lights, the snow, and the food… did I mention the food? I enjoy curling up with a hot cup of a tea, a warm blanket, and good flick - usually Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter over and over. This time of year also marks the height of consumerism in many countries around the world. I made a pledge to be more sustainable in all aspects of life at the start of this year, and plan to stick with it when it comes to giving this season. I’ve curated a list of gift ideas that won’t create trash bags of waste:

  • baked goods - make a batch of cookies, a loaf of banana bead, a cake, or a pie - options are infinite.

  • memberships - museum or fitness club memberships, streaming service subscriptions, etc.

  • dining out - everyone likes to eat, so treat a loved one to a lovely brunch or lunch or dinner.

  • tickets - concerts, sporting events, the ballet, the circus - there is something for everyone.

  • services - pamper someone with a trip to the spa, or a home cleaning service, or a car wash - services can range from practical to superfluous, and won’t stick you with a ton of wrapper paper to toss out.

  • eco-friendly accessories - metal straws, reusable tote bags, glass coffee mugs, bar shampoo - perfect for the friend that gets scolded for not saving the sea turtles.

  • instead of buying new rolls of wrapping paper, which usually come packaged in plastic film, try substituting it out with magazine pages or newspaper, or put the gift in a reusable cloth bag.

  • thrift store items - used books, a tea set, fun jewelry, a silly mug, an ugly sweater.

  • windowsill plants - a succulent, or herb plants like basil and mint.

  • homemade items - crafty folks, this is your time to shine, whether you sew, knit, paint, draw, make soap, etc. homemade gifts are extra heart warming to receive. For the less crafty folks like myself - buying hand crafted items from local shops is a good way to support small businesses, and the local economy.

We don’t need to give into mass marketing and consumerism in order to have a fulfilling and joyful holiday season - embrace the people that make life great. Cheers!

Going Waste Free: Where to Start

At the beginning of 2018, I pledged to reduce my plastic waste and consumption. I've read many blogs about the zero waste lifestyle, and follow r/zerowaste on Reddit. We've all seen media coverage about whales that wash up on beaches with tons of plastic inside their bellies, or sea turtles with straws stuck in their nostrils.

If you've ever been to New York, you know that this city is dirty - bottles and plastic bags litter the streets despite a trash receptacle on every block. A lot of times, these bins are simply overflowing. I decided to make a change to the way I consume things, in order to reduce my waste and carbon footprint. I quickly learned that making a change like this doesn't just happen overnight.

The first thing I did was jot down in my journal every single thing I used and threw into a garbage can - there was a lot. Paper towels, plastic spoons, tea bags, food containers and wrappers. Merely being aware of how much stuff I was sending to the landfill was eye opening in itself - the first step in reducing waste is self awareness, and being conscious of what you're tossing. 

After writing down the things I threw out for a few weeks, I could then analyze where I created the most waste - paper towels, cotton rounds for makeup removal, makeup wipes, napkins, dental floss picks, and food wrappers (for example, buying produce in plastic bags). A lot of these things can be easily replaced with a reusable version.

A few things that were easy for me to switch out: 

-plastic produce bags have been replaced with mesh bags

-paper towels and napkins were replaced with cloth towels and napkins

-tea bags have been replaced with loose leaf tea and a reusable tea strainer

-plastic straws have been replaced with a metal one that I carry with me

The point that I want to reiterate here is that going waste free is not an overnight process. I'm the kind of person who likes to stock up on things, like cotton rounds for makeup removal, etc. I am going to use them up before I switch over to a more sustainable option, because to get rid of them all without using them would just be wasteful.

This is just the beginning of my journey - stay tuned for more! How have you reduced your plastic waste, or do you have any tips you'd like to share?

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