By Jordan Douglas, HHC

The start of a new year (and new decade!) provides us with the opportunity for reflection on ways in which we can do better. Personally, I prefer to make and encourage small, sustainable daily changes over grand resolutions. One of the most profound ways we can all do our part is to take small daily actions to reduce our waste and live more sustainably.

Here are seven simple ways to reduce your daily waste:

At the coffee shop, juice bar, cafe...

  • Bring your own mug or thermos. This require just a bit of forethought, but it’s so easy to take a mason jar or coffee mug or thermos with you when you head out for the day. Better yet, keep one in your backpack, car, or office for impromptu beverages.
  • Bring your own straw and cutlery. Stainless steel and glass straws are becoming more widely available and can be conveniently kept on hand. Many even come with their own carrying case and cleaner. To-Go Ware sells sets of bamboo cutlery with a travel pouch at a great price point.

At the grocery store...

  • Bring your own bags. Reusable shopping bags are a great place to start if you’re looking to take a first step in reducing waste. For those seasoned vets out there, you probably have reusable bags stashed in all the major locations (bag, purse, car, bike, office, coat pocket, etc.). Forgot your bag? If you’re shopping at Ellwood’s, no worries! The Bag Share Program makes it easy for us all to do our part to eliminate plastic and paper waste. Take a bag, leave a bag. Bring your own bags for produce as well to cut back on plastic waste, and opt for non- plastic containing options as much as possible.
  • Shop bulk. This is a great way to reduce the paper and plastic waste so predominant in packaged foods, even the more health-promoting ones. Bring your own jars and canisters and fill with herbs, spices coffee and whole food staples like grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. This also goes for body care items like shampoo, conditioner, lotion and body wash. Here again, Ellwood’s shines. The Zero Waste Glass Return Program makes it easy to shop bulk and waste less.

At home...

  • Sustainable storage. Consider investing reusable food storage options like Stasher, Beeswrap and glass containers. Better yet, reuse old honey or peanut butter jars! These options keep food fresh while wasting less.
  • Save your scraps. Vegetable tips, roots and peels contain tons of nutrients. Don’t send them to a landfill! Dedicate a container to collect these items over the course of a week or two, and keep them in your freezer. Once it’s full, add everything to a big pot of water, simmer for an hour or two and voila you have a delicious broth! Composting scraps is another fantastic option.
  • Don’t forget to zest! Anytime you’re using any type of citrus, zest it first. Zest provides a phenomenal acidic kick and brightens any dish, plus the actual act of zesting is an immediate mood boost, as citrus essential oils are incredibly uplifting. Amplify your dish with the zest, or save in the freezer for later.

I’d love to know — what steps are you taking to reduce waste? Email Jordan

Interested in learning more about reducing your waste in the kitchen?

We have a class on just that!

Join us in The Beet Wednesday for Part 2 of Erica Well's Waste-Free Kitchen Series all about saving the scraps! She'll discuss ways to reduce food waste in your kitchen including proper storage, understanding food labels, and using up some of the most commonly discarded vegetable parts.

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