Waste Not, Want Not – A modern Guide to Reducing Your Waste

I was scrolling through Instagram the other day. I scrolled over a former college classmate’s picture, where she had recently been in Italy, and she snapped a photo with those strange, Velcro-hooved-ballerina-goats climbing up a near vertical wall. She talked about how fulfilling it was to travel so light, as she was actually *knitting* her clothes for the subsequent week’s travel. If memory serves me correctly, she was recently in Thailand and wrapped her snacks up in some sort of edible leaf as a baggie as she hiked.

Ok. Let’s unpack this for a minute.

My lovely friend has a motivation that I… don’t know that I’ll ever have, ripping leaves off trees to hold my cashews. Also, I don’t know that I’ll ever be in a situation where I need to knit my clothes as I go. Did they teach knitting at PSU?  I know they taught beerbrewing and tennis as extras. Not sure about knitting. Having said that, now more than ever, I think people are starting to ask themselves what we can do to reduce the waste we produce and how we can take small steps to cumulatively make a difference. If you’re out there thinking that you alone can’t impact a major reduction in producing waste, consider these facts (found at EPA.gov):

  • The US generated 262.4MM tons of municipal solid waste in 2015, which averaged nearly 4.5lbs of waste, per person, per day.
  • Paper and paperboard products are the largest % of things discarded, totaling about 25.9% of that
  • 137.7MM tons of waste were landfilled, with food making up  about 22% of that
  • In 2015, 34.5MM tons of plastic products were generated, coming from packaging and other containers

What can we do about this? To start, there’s a few substitutions you can make around your home that, over time, can greatly reduce these numbers.

 

Reusable straws

If you haven’t seen the video of that person pulling a green Starbucks straw out of a sea turtle’s nose, you’re likely not as bothered by the rest of the world. I don’t particularly care about needing to use straws, but I do love the metal straw I bought from a local natural foods grocer a few years ago. For those that think that sipping coffee through a straw helps prevent your teeth from yellowing…. This is also a myth. If you’re not looking to haul around a pointy metal straw, Amazon also sells collapsible straws that fit just about anywhere. Happy sipping!

 

VEHHE Stainless Steel Straws, 4 Pack – Brush and Storage Bag – $3.99 Amazon

Collapsible BPA-Free Silicone Folding Straws with Case – 2 pack – $4.99 Amazon

 

Reusable Shopping Bags

This is one of the seemingly easy but also difficult things to stick with. Over the years, I’ve accumulated likely two dozen of those reusable bags from Whole Foods that I shove in my pantry, my car trunk, my coat closet. I have fold-up bags I make sure I keep in every purse. This is a habit that’s hard to break, but if you put into perspective how many plastic bags you use when you shop, it really adds up. Here are some of my favorites.

 

Foldable Reusable Shopping Tote Bags – 10 pack – $14.99 Amazon

 

Baggu Reusable Bags – 3 pack set, $36 – Baggu.com

 

Replacement bags for Ziplocs 

I used to use Ziploc bags for marinating, storing food to go, or bringing snacks to work. I would try to save them and reuse them every few days, but then I couldn’t remember what was in which bag, and it started to get kind of gross. Cue these bags…. They’re BPA free, wash and dry easily, and they don’t take up much space. I love them.

 

Scouts Silicone Reusable Storage Bags – BPA Free $20.95, set of 4 Amazon

 

Beeswax Kitchen Wraps 

I’m in the kitchen a LOT. I often make larger quantities of food than I can eat in a day, so I’m loading up bowls or baking dishes and putting them in the freezer. A few months ago, I started using beeswax wraps for my cold storage. Beeswax is antimicrobial, can be washed with cool water and an eco-friendly dish soap, and can be reused for up to 2 years if cared for properly. I bought my wraps locally from the farmers market, but she has an online store. Other vendors I’ve found are women-owned or Fair Trade certified or tied to another NGO/non profit in support of environmental or humanitarian initiatives.

 

Bee Our Guest beeswax food wraps – multi-size 3 pack, $20 Etsy

 

SuperBee Food Wraps – $14.99 and up Amazon

 

Reusable Keurig Filter

OK… I boycotted getting a Keurig for a long time – it was easy to blame my non-coffee-drinking ways before, but I was met with an eye roll each time I’d mention that it was insult to injury that something so expensive also produce so much waste. Also, I’m not entirely sure what goes into manufacturing each plastic cup, but I knew I’d be drinking it. Cue this glorious little filter! It’s a BPA-free plastic and is made by Keurig, so you won’t run into any “this is not a real K-Cup so it doesn’t work, sucks to be you” message on your coffee maker. It’s foolproof for people like me who can’t make coffee properly – all you do is scoop roughly 2 tbsp into the pod, plop and brew as normal.

 

My K-Cup Universal Reusable Pod Coffee Filter – $8.79 – Amazon

 

There you have it! This is a great start to reducing your waste from your kitchen and every day life. Taking extra steps to reduce, reuse and recycle is a great way to help keep your environment clean, use less resources and reduce your carbon footprint. Cheers!

-S

Sarah’s Picks – Best Thanksgiving 2017 Deals For Your Kitchen

The time is upon us where we indulge in food, shopping and all things consumer!

I’m not in the camp that shames America for being such a consumer-driven country. Do we have too much? Yes. Too much stuff, too much food, too much choice, too much free will, just a bunch of too-much. However – that doesn’t need you need to have “too much” of everything yourself. If anything, you could take the fact that there’s “too much”, and share it with those who don’t have enough.

I’ve been stalking all the Amazon Prime deals, the Macy’s deals, and I’m DROOLING at all the goodies!!! A few things, I actually bought to give as gifts… some other things, I bought because they are on sale and if I’m going to get it, now is the time to have it.

I’ve picked through some goodies to show you all the deals i think are worth indulging… take a look!

 

Stainless Steel Knife Sharpener by Zulay Kitchengadget 1.jpg

This little gadget is the best. At only $14.99 (less, if you’re a Prime member!), it’s definitely something to put in your grab-bag. A sharp knife is a safe knife! Make sure you’re prepared to chop, mince and cube this season.

 

Instant-Pot Duo Mini 3 Qt 7-in-1 Multi- Use Programmable Pressure Cooker

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This might be perhaps the best little gadget you’ll ever have. A smaller, less expensive version (only $59.99!) of the full size one, it’s perfect for people who don’t have a huge crowd to cook for.

 

Imarku 10 Inch Pro Chef’s Knife 

knives

Did I mention I like sharp knives? This is quite a deal – Imarku is a great brand, and this blade definitely stands up to those who are a little harder on their knives. For only $19.99, go grab them before they’re all gone!

 

Tools of the Trade 13-pc Stainless Steel Cookware Set

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 11.32.58 AM

This is a crazy deal! All of these pots for under $30. This makes a great gift for a college student, new home buyer, or someone who needs to upgrade some of their pots and pans but doesn’t want to spend an arm and a leg.

 

LoveU. Silicone Oven Mitts

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For anyone that wants something a bit more capable than your typical oven mitt, look no further, especially since they’re less than $13. These little oven gloves are a great gift for any baker or chef.

 

Royal Electric Fast Boiling Glass Tea Kettle 

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This is such a great thing to have for entertaining — no need to sit around and watch a tea kettle boil. It’s sleek, and can boil right on your countertop. A great thing so that you can enjoy time with guests as you heat up your tea!

 

Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine

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If you have never had a great breadmaker to whip up some homemade bread, you’re missing out. This little one is on sale for $59.99, and even includes a timer so you can set it before work, and have fresh-baked bread right in time for dinner!

 

As much as I love a good deal, though… make sure you make an effort to first spend time with your loved ones, and THEN get to shopping. Enjoy – and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

-S