Thursday, April 21, 2011

How Chocolate Chips Inspired Me to Reduce our Waste.

On Monday, Mike and I (and Gabe, our trusty sidekick) went to the bulk foods store to get him some popcorn, which he eats by the pound. While there, I decided to get some other staples, like, say, four pounds of chocolate chips:

(aaand peanut butter chips. What? I couldn't say no. And now I am happily making Reese's cups by the handful, ie: shoving a little of each in my mouth. It's a great way to celebrate finally reaching my pre-Gabe weight, don't you think?)

Anyway. After I put all of the goodies (popcorn, oats, nuts, chocolate chips,  beet sugar, quinoa, and so on) in jars, I took a look at the waste left over:

(How much do I love this hanging Ikea spice and utensil rack? More counter space, more convenient, more awesome. Booyah.)

Ahem. I sure am distractible today, huh? 

Anyway. I took a look at the waste from the bulk food store purchases, then I took a look at our recycling pile which is taking over the kitchen: 

And firmly resolved to start shopping more at the bulk foods store and reduce our packaging waste.

I mean, really. If only for reducing the amount of recycling we have to schlep around (the greatest downfall of apartment living, alas).  Though, it certainly makes me more aware of how much waste, even recycling, that we are creating.

It got me thinking about the ways in which we already reduce our waste and the ways we can reduce our waste even more. And since tomorrow is Earth Day, I thought I'd share.

  • Participate in a CSA in the summer and fall - we get locally grown fruits and veggies in our own cloth bag. The only waste is a rubber band or two.
  • No paper products - we use cloth napkins and kitchen towels instead of paper towels.
  • Bake our own bread - using either this or this recipe.
  • Cloth diaper Gabe.
  • Pack our lunch in reusable containers and reuse zippered baggies.
  • I love Lunapads.
  • Use a water bottle instead of bottled water. 
  • Bring cloth bags to the grocery store.
  • Use baking soda and vinegar to clean just about everything, including my hair.
  • Buy dried beans instead of canned beans; buy cheese in a block instead of shredded.

  • Make our own peanut butter. No more time spent futily trying to clean out peanut butter jars for recycling! We go through a few jars a month of this. Yum.
  • Start making jam again (I use this since I don't use pectin). PB&J from scratch makes me feel accomplished.
  • Also: start making yogurt again. Those #5 plastic tubs are the worst.
  • Shop online less; in fact, shop less, period. (April is currently a Buy Nothing month for us, but still! Shopping less is always a good plan, right?)
  • Buy absolutely everything we can from the bulk foods store or aisle. 
  • Reuse produce and bulk foods bags.
  • Try to make cheese. (!) 
  • No coffee unless we've remembered our travel mug; no shopping unless we've remembered our grocery bags; no excuses!
  • Make ketchup (I've done this once in a pinch and it was stupid easy).
  • Less convenience food - like frozen waffles and breakfast cereal and more cooking from scratch (I've started to slack off since having a baby).

    It's exciting to be inspired again to challenged ourselves to grow in this way; I've missed it!

    (If you're interested in this sort of thing, you might want to check out my green baby steps page, which I just updated. Also, this video about a zero waste family was ridiculously inspiring.)

    (Happy Earth Day! And Good Friday! Free coffee if you bring a reusable mug to Starbucks or Caribou! Hurrah for caffeination!)
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