Posts Tagged ‘reuse’

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By Callie Yow


New Year’s Day has come and gone. After envisioning the joy of manifesting the amazing adventure that 2020 will hold — and deciding that I’ll aim to get more sleep, make more time for friends and family, read more books and volunteer — I realized that one thing I left out of my New Year’s resolutions was how to be more green in the new year. I came up with the following guide to help other eco-women live the best (and greenest) year in 2020.

1. Use mesh produce bags 

Those plastic produce bags are convenient for dividing up fruits and vegetables, but there’s a more eco-friendly way. Try using mesh bags (sold at Whole Foods and online here) which are reusable and easy to handle. They’re perfect for holding produce and items from bulk sections. 

2. Reuse glass jars 

Glass jars can be used to make overnight oats, store work lunches or leftover food, brew cold brew coffee, and more. My favorite use for glass jars is making overnight oats — Runningbyrd Tea, a local DC company, brews and sells their tea in pint-sized Mason jars, which happen to be the perfect size for making overnight oats. 

3. Hang dry your delicates (and everything else, too)

As Green America notes in 5 Reasons to Ditch Your Dryer: “In many households, the dryer is the third-most energy-hungry appliance … Air-drying your clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by a whopping 2,400 pounds a year.” While you may already hang dry your delicate blouses, intimates, and certain fabrics like silk and wool, why not try hanging all your clothes to dry? All you need is a good drying rack. 

4. Participate in Meatless Monday

Meat consumption causes an incredible amount of environmental harm. Meatless Monday is a great goal to have in 2020 because there are many vegan/vegetarian meat substitutes. Instead of consuming meat at every meal, try eliminating it from your diet one or two days a week and opt for delicious alternatives like vegetarian burgers, tempeh or seitan. Follow @MeatlessMonday on Twitter for motivation and recipe ideas. 

5. Make the most of public transportation and rideshares 

The DC Metro (WMATA) services many parts of the District, Maryland and Virginia. There are also other bus and train options throughout the region —  as well as Uber, Lyft, and taxis waiting to be called (follow these tips to stay safe on public transit and rideshares). Limiting how often you drive can save, on average, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide for every gallon of gas you don’t use. If you have to drive to get safely to and from work or otherwise have to use a car, try signing up for a carpool to help others while reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. 

Callie Yow has a strong love for the natural world and enjoys combining her passions for writing, strategic planning and creative problem solving to advocate for the environment in her personal and professional life.

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By Christy Halvorson Ross

We are in a 24/7/365 battle globally and locally to reduce our carbon footprints, reverse climate change, and improve the health of the Earth.

There are so many ways to contribute on an individual level to a healthier planet…on the roads, in the grocery store, with your consumer habits, and your recycling practices. You can also make a huge impact on your environmental footprint in your own kitchen.  Read on to find out how.

  1. Reduce your food packaging

Shopping at farmer’s markets or being a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) member are the best ways to reduce your food packaging. If you bring your own bags to the farmer’s market, then there is zero packaging between the farmer picking the produce and you putting it in your refrigerator.

The DC area has a plethora of incredible farmer’s markets, many on the weekends and some during the week. Make visiting them your ritual!

With CSAs, you can support farmers directly by purchasing a share for a season or a year. Check out this great list of area CSA’s

As much as I love the produce at Trader Joe’s, I don’t love their food packaging. Many of their items have a cardboard base and then are wrapped in plastic. Whole Foods is a bit better with labels and twist ties on most of their produce.

Wherever you shop, make sure to bring your own produce bags.

If you are a fish or meat eater, you can also bring your own container to the deli/fish counter. Stash one in your bag and have it weighed before the food is put in. This is a great way to reduce your use of plastic.

2. Produce less food waste

Food waste is a big one in the kitchen. At Little Green, we love to come up with ways to use every little bit of the food you have. Following are a few fun tips that ensure you will never need to throw produce away.

  • Veggie stir fries

When the spinach and mushrooms that you had grand plans for begin to look like they may have a day of survival left, it’s time for a stir fry! Saute some onions and add just about any other thing you’ve got in your fridge. Throw in some sesame oil until it’s full of flavor and tender. You can always add coconut milk or hot sauce, and garnish with chopped nuts and cilantro or flat-leaf parsley.

  • Carrot-top pesto

Chop up those amazing carrot top greens from your farmer’s market carrots, and add them to the Cuisinart with pureed walnuts or almonds and some olive oil and salt for a delicious pesto. No recipe needed! Play with the flavors and textures.

  • Smoothies

Are those fresh berries about to go? Throw them in the freezer in a reusable bag (have you heard about stasher bags?) and use them for your next breakfast smoothie.

3. Choose sustainable foods

I have been delving more deeply into the future and the sustainability of food on our planet. Today, we have 7.5 billion people on this planet and 2 billion of them are hungry. By 2050 we’ll have to feed more than 9 billion people. We are discovering foods that require less water and farmland to produce, are grown efficiently, and are highly nutritious. A few examples include:

  • sunchokes [What are sunchokes, you ask? They are also known as Jerusalem Artichokes. They have so many nutrients, fiber, and even protein, and are so easy to grow….we need to start integrating them into our diets more! Check out this elegant salad or main dish that will wow your guests using these inexpensive, modest little gems.]
  • legumes (lentils, beans)
  • dark leafy greens (dandelion greens, kale, swiss chard, beet greens)
  • squashes (delicata, chayote, honeynut)

If you can build these three habits into your routine, you’ll make a big difference for this planet we live on. Have fun with the variety of veggies you get at the market or CSA (and check out our farmer’s market guide here) and enjoy the health benefits too!

Christy Halvorson Ross is the founder of Little Green, which creates sustainable and nutritious recipes, and offers healthy living and plant-based cleanse programs, including food delivery, right here in DC.

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by Jessica Wilmer

I am awful at keeping New Year’s Resolutions. There is something about them that screams, “Make ridiculous requests of yourself, then feel guilty when you can’t live up to your own expectations!”

So for 2016, I decided to go with something that seemed more attainable: reduce waste. More specifically, I decided to focus on food waste: both the food itself and related packaging.

Six R's are better than three

Six R’s are better than three

Waste has weighed on my conscience for many years now, and our “throw-away culture” doesn’t ease my pain. Sometimes it feels as if we make things just to throw them away.

Part of my resolution was to learn more about waste. Over the past few months, I’ve watched upsetting documentaries*, read eye-opening articles, and researched many amazing local organizations, including the Food Recovery Network and Hungry Harvest.

It might surprise some people that over 40% of the food produced in the US each year is thrown away and 23% of the solid waste stream comes from packaging and single-use containers. It’s become an epidemic that costs over $218 billion a year in the US alone.

While I have learned a lot through my research, the real lessons have come by making the conscious effort to stop and think every time I purchase or eat food.

A few lessons learned

3514710196_ba6d7b3a87_oSingle Use items are out of control

Have you seen that awful video of the sea turtle conservation group, Leatherback Trust, removing a single use straw from a sea turtle’s nose? Google it. It is a seriously devastating visual of what can happen to single-use products after their purpose is served.

On a typical day, Americans use over 500 million single-use straws. 500 MILLION. Just let that sink in for a second.

Always ask questions

While brainstorming ways to reduce waste, I wondered if it was ok to bring reusable packaging to the market for bulk items.

It turns out you can; all you have to do is ask! The customer service desk at the Foggy Bottom Whole Foods was more than happy to help me navigate their system. Turns out, bringing cloth bags and glass jars is a quick and easy way to get rice, quinoa, greens, and many other items while skipping the extra packaging.

Photo credit: Jessica Wilmer & Steve Milner of http://www.dcphotoop.com/

Photo credit: Jessica Wilmer & Steve Milner of DCPhotoOp

Check your trash

Household_food_trash_NY

Photo credit: petrr

I noticed that the majority of the paper waste in my home came from paper towels. It’s amazing how many of those suckers you rip off when you are learning to cook!

Luckily, I stumbled upon Bamboo paper towels. They are easy to wash out while you’re using them, and when they get too gross, you can throw them in the laundry with your towels. Some can be washed up to 100 times! Sustainable, reusable material? Definitely a win-win.

Going Forward

Be prepared

Single-use containers are everywhere, and our food service industry has made them almost impossible to avoid. However, my experience taught me that you will feel more successful when you have all the proper tools.

I carry a reusable, glass water bottle, coffee mug, and set of bamboo utensils every day. I also keep a set of dishes and utensils at my office, so I’m not tempted by single-use options. Every time I hear, “Grande Americano in a personal cup”, I feel like I’ve received a gold star.

You will save money!

A huge portion of food costs is in the packaging, so when you just buy the food you bypass that cost. Bonus! This summer you won’t have to spend $2 on a bottle of water at that hot-dog stand, and you’ll save a bit each time you bring a personal mug to your local Seattle-based coffee shop.

The Wave of the Future

Thankfully, food and packaging waste has come into the spotlight. Recently the government stepped up efforts that address this large and systemic problem. Individuals and companies are also realizing that food waste affects not only the environment, but also the economy and hunger.

If the momentum continues, I think that there can be a real change. We have already done a significant amount of damage both financially and environmentally, but we do have the ability to stop the damage from growing exponentially.

I may be just one person who made just one resolution, but for the sake of the environment, this is one I’m going to keep.

Jessica Wilmer is an aspiring blogger, vlogger, photographer, and activist. She currently works in finance and lives with her boyfriend on Capitol Hill. You can usually find them at the farmers market in their matching Patagonia sweaters looking for new veggies to include in their repertoire of vegetarian dishes.


* Recommended documentaries: “Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (2013) and Morgan Suprlock’s “United States of Trash” on his series “Inside Man” (2015)

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This Holiday Season,  Wrap Your Gifts With Sustainable Style And A Personal Touch

Written by DC EcoWomen Board Member Catherine Sweitzer

Whether DIY is a personal mantra or a nice idea you keep at arm’s length, there are many ways to make your gift wrapping a little more festive AND green.

Most of my holiday projects are about the same: cute with minimal dedication.  Greening your holidays doesn’t need to be an added burden this busy month! I used three simple ideas while wrapping gifts this year: a recycled tree cutout, map wrap, and magazine streamer. Keep reading to learn how to wrap it yourself!

Stuff You Need:

  • Paper Bags
  • Maps or Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Ribbon
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Scissors

The bags I used were left over from Sweet Green take-out and holiday shopping – go ahead and raid your stash of Whole Foods bags for an instant abundance of wrapping supplies. The maps and magazines were things I found around the office, although both can be found thrift stores.

And don’t forget the last thing you need: Gifts!

Now for the wrapping ideas!

Recycled Tree Cutout

Need – Brown Bag, Magazine, Scissors, Tape

Choose a bag that will be appropriate for the size of your gift. Then choose a magazine image that you would like to be peeking through your wrapping paper.

Grab the paper bags and pop open the bottom of the bag and flatten it out. It looks a bit like this:

Cut off the handles of the handles of the bag then cut the bag lengthwise to create a large piece of wrapping paper.

Cut HALF of a tree in what will be the “front” of your wrapping paper (as you can see I goofed up the “half” bit on the bottom).

Grab your image and tape it to the front of your gift. Line up the wrapping paper so your image is peeking through, tape it just right and tah dah! green gift wrap magic:

Map Wrap

Need – Map, Tape, Ribbon, Scissors

Check out the photo of the presents under the tree if you need to be sold on how darling this looks when finished!

It isn’t fancy but newspaper or a map as wrapping paper turns out well especially with a little ribbon for flair. For extra points, use cloth ribbon with wire, which is easily reusable.

Magazine Streamer

Need – Magazine, Tape, Scissors

Some things are difficult to wrap. Namely, anything that isn’t in the shape of a square or rectangle.  By cutting strips of magazine, newspaper, or a map you can piece together wrapping paper that fits the form of your gift AND it looks artsy.

For this, I cut strips of magazine to be wrapped around bracelets.

The bracelets turned into a small wreath of glossy magazine photos; the possible results are as varied as the shapes of all of the awkward-to-wrap gifts!

If you need a little extra help gift-wrapping, don’t forget to stop by the DC EcoWomen Gift Wrapping Fundraiser happening throughout the next couple of weeks.

Here’s to a happy holiday season, may it be filled with green and festive DIY-ing!