Food waste makes up nearly a third of the trash sent to landfills. This statistic alone gives us pause before we even begin to consider the millions who don’t have enough food to eat. You and your family can help reverse this by making a conscious effort cut down on food waste. With these five steps, you can begin to make a positive dent in an unsavory problem.
1. Shop smart
Plan out your meals for the week before you go grocery shopping. Make a detailed list, and stick to it. Remember to avoid impulse purchases (not shopping while hungry is sure to help) and buy only the exact quantities you’ll need. Purchasing grains and nuts from the bulk bins and only buying loose produce are great ways to cut down on excess. If you’re not sure of the right amount of food to buy, get into the habit of writing down what foods you end up throwing away so you know to avoid buying that much in the future.
2. Preserve food you can’t immediately use
When you shop, pay attention to expiration dates. To keep track in your refrigerator, make a habit of putting the newest foods toward the back of the fridge and moving the older items to the front where you’ll see and use them. If you know you won’t be able to use something before it expires, figure out the best way to preserve it. Store chips, cereal, or other items that have the tendency to go stale, in airtight containers. When fruits start to get too soft, toss them in smoothies, and when greens begin to wilt, add them to soups. You can freeze bread, flash freeze fruits and vegetables, and even take up the vintage arts of canning and pickling to avoid throwing food away.
3. Use your leftovers
Vow to eat your leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day, no matter how tempting a trip to the local cafe may be. Consider gifting leftovers from big meals to friends or coworkers if you can’t possibly finish them. Another great idea: Set aside one night a week to make a meal just from food you have in your kitchen – no additional ingredients allowed.
4. Get creative with food scraps
Make produce go further by using all its parts. Stop peeling potatoes, leave the skin on cucumbers, and cook broccoli stems along with the florets. If this isn’t possible, save vegetable peels in a freezer bag, and when the bag is full, make vegetable stock. Pureed vegetable scraps can even be used in vinaigrettes. Take note of what scraps you’re consistently throwing away, and figure out how to reuse them!
When all other methods for reusing your food scraps have failed, compost! Fruits and vegetables, egg shells, coffee grounds (and coffee filters), nut shells, and grains can all be composted. There are a number of ways to compost, from vermicomposting with worms to creating a simple garden compost pile, you’re sure to find a method that works for you. But the onus to reduce your family’s food waste shouldn’t rest on your shoulders alone.
Fun stickers are an effective way to remind kids to compost (via RecycleReminders)
Take steps to make composting a family effort. Consider turning composting into a game for your kids. Reward them for composting their food scraps with small prizes. Stickers and buttons from Team Compost can remind your kids that recycling food waste is just as important as recycling any other material.
Being environmentally friendly doesn’t have to be a hassle. You can find simple ways to engage all of your family members – even the little ones – in reducing their impact, starting right in your kitchen.
Guest post written by Monica Burton
Plastics. I can hardly say the word without making the “yuck” face.
Don’t get me wrong I understand that plastics have done some wondrous things for us, especially in medicine and in medical devices. But plastics are EVERYWHERE these days. Corporate America is telling me I need to drink out of plastic, eat off of plastic, wrap my food in plastic, carry my stuff in plastic bags, store my kids toys in plastic, and buy up single use plastics as much as possible to make my like easier. What they don’t tell me though is that plastic is forever, that it chokes our oceans, fills our landfills, harms our wildlife, and leaches hormones into the food products it holds with devastating effects on our health. When at all possible we need to step away from the plastic…for our own health and for the health of the planet. Here are some steps you can take:
Click to Enlarge – Photo Courtesy of www.wildlifeheritage.org
So have you seen The Lorax yet? If so, then you know that it is fodder for lots of conversations within your family about environmentalism and how to put into practice Lessons With The Lorax. The movie is phenomenal and fun but the subject matter is serious and there is no time like the present to work together as a family to do your part and speak for the trees, and the air, and the waterways, and all things Mother Earth. The Lorax movie just brings us a fun way to launch into it with renewed vigor.
One way to gets kids interested and excited might be to give them title of Lorax for a week and alternate weekly between children. For a week they get to be the voice that speaks for the planet. They get to be the watch dog that makes sure lights get turned off and water isn’t wasted. Giving kids this bit of power makes them more aware of the issues and how to solve them. Once all of your kids have had their turn at the wheel you can ask them to look outward for more ideas and broaden their reach. What can they do on their block, in their community, and at their school? Empowering them at home will give them the confidence that they can make a difference elsewhere.
But… back to the home. What can you do there? Letting them be the Lorax for the week might be fun enough on its own but you can also up the ante by offering rewards when certain goals are met. Mom and Dad get to be the Lorax too though, just to set the standard and let the youngins see how this game is played. Have fun!
– Teach kids to be aware of household waste and give them tips on how the family can reduce the amount of garbage that hits the curb each week. If you usually throw out two bags each week, challenge the kids to help you whittle it down to one. Trash can be reduced by recycling as much as you can, reusing what you can, buying foods with little or no packaging, composting scraps, and reducing purchases.
– Start a laundry challenge. Explain how much energy and water goes into washing clothes and how much is wasted when they can’t wear the same pair of jeans for 2 to 3 days or they change clothes multiple times a day. See if you can reduce the number of laundry loads you do and get help hanging the laundry to dry so that the dryer doesn’t have to be used as much.
– Let them audit your household. Give them the power to police water use, energy hogging, and general wastefulness. You will be surprised by all the ways those keen minds will find to help reduce your impact.
– Let your the children help research and decide on purchases. Letting them make buying decisions now will only help them be more mindful consumers later on. Let them choose which toilet paper is the greenest option or what gadget might help them conserve energy or reduce waste. Doing this is especially good for older kids because it gives them the opportunity to really research products make better choices.
– Take an eat local challenge. With your kids at your side make a list of meals you can make with all local ingredients and take them shopping with you and have them help in the food preparation. Explain how you are saving resources by buying from vendors and farms in your own hometown.
– Start a children’s garden. If you have the space, it would be beneficial to let each child have their own small garden bed and help them plant in it. Then they are responsible for weeding, watering, and harvesting. The smiles and feeling of accomplishment will be priceless.
If we want them to be the ones speaking for our planet then we have to help them find their voices…
This post is part of the “Lessons With The Lorax” Blog Tour organized by Universal Pictures for The Lorax Movie. Visit some of the other stops here:
January ‘s Conscious Box arrived this week. The theme is “Renew Your Intentions”. I guess it is fitting that so many of the products seek to provide help with health and wellness goals since that is usually tops on our list! I enjoyed this box but have to admit that several things in it did not interest me.
Here is what it contained:
Raw Rev 100 Chocolate & Coconut Bar – This was the first thing to be touched in the box and it was divine. It is raw, vegan gluten free and dairy free. It’s made up of fruit, seeds, nuts, and cocoa so it is grain free and acceptable in this paleo household. Yum is an understatement!
Sacred Chocolate Mylk – The tiny package had a single candy heart in it but it was enough to elicit a moan of pleasure. It was creamy smooth like silk and really delicious. 100% organic and 60% cacao. I am not sure if you can buy these at Whole Foods but next time I am in there I will be hunting for them. I only want or eat chocolate once a month so these would be nice to have around so I don’t go bizerk and try to buy a Nestle bar.
Green Tara Spirulina Energy Bites – Sadly I did not like the taste of these at all. The ingredient list is organic bananas, organic sesame seeds, organic coconut, organic dates, and spirulina. So why did these taste like a bar of nasty soap? Ew!
But I do like the idea of eating more spirulina so I plan to save these and throw them in green smoothies.
Think Thin Crunch Bar – Can’t comment on this one as it did not pass the ingredient test and will be chucked or donated (since I have some other food to donate). It has soy protein isolate in it, as well as peanuts, which we are trying to avoid.
Parma Vegan Parmesan – I haven’t tried this yet but I think I will add it to a salad later this week. I have no issues with regular parmesan cheese but the ingredients aren’t bad in this alternative. It is gluten free, soy free, and dairy free. Ingredients: raw organic walnuts, nutritional yeast, organic pumpkin seeds, organic sunflower seeds, kelp, organic garlic, organic hemp seeds, organic sesame seeds, Himalayan crystal salt, & organic herbs.
Kelapo Virgin Coconut Oil – Organic, cold processed, and fair trade. This is good stuff and we use coconut oil quite often around these parts.
Guayaki Yerba Chai Spice Mate – Herba Mate, tea… it’s all the same to me. I did brew one of these and it was okay but why drink something unless you really like it? That is the way I feel about tea and coffee. I only like them if I add lots of cream and honey, so why bother?
Ancient Treasures Tea – See above. I am giving all teas to my husband.
Golden Earth Perfume – These perfumes are made of 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils and are infused with crystals. The Euphoria blend, which is what I got, is rose, jasmine, and agate crystal. No synthetic fragrances. Since I am not big on perfume and especially not jasmine, I gave this to my daughter who is happy as a clam with smelly stuff. I do love the concept of their perfume though!
Eco-Dent Tooth Powder – Very foamy and efficient tooth powder though not great tasting but what tooth powder is? None that I have tried. There was also some Eco-Dent gum. I am not a gum person so I will likely give it to my kids.
Ancient Minerals Magnesium oil and Magnesium Gel – I squealed in delight when I saw these. I love Ancient Minerals Magnesium products. Magnesium is so important for staying healthy and yet supplements are not absorbed well. Topical magnesium is much better and I was all out of the oil, which I prefer over the gel.
CleanWell Hand Sanitizer – I like the company and I like the product but I am just not a big user of hand sanitizer. This will likely be donated to the local homeless shelter.
Jo-Sha Eucalyptus Wipe – This product did not thrill me either for the same reason. I suppose an essential oil wipe could be used to clean off gym equipment or dirty hands but so can soap and water. Stuff like this is just not practical in my life when there are easier and cheaper solutions.
I hope there is lots of chocolate in February’s box!
TGIF! Have an awesome weekend everyone! I haven’t done a Friday wrap-up with awesome links in a loooong time (like years). And of course, it’s time I changed that.
I am a glutton for learning. I usually have 20 books checked out at the library at any given time, I am toying with the idea of taking some foreign language classes at a nearby college, and I have many hundreds of blogs in my RSS reader. I LOVE to learn and read about new stuff. That is what makes life so wonderful IMO. I am here to learn and absorb like a sponge. Lately that has been headed in the financial direction so many of my links will be to awesome financial resources and blogs.
The book that has recently changed my whole outlook on money and finances is first at bat. I have never been very responsible with money even though I have read tons of books about the issue. We don’t struggle to make ends meet but we can never manage to save much. For people who have two VERY old cars that could break down at any moment and who want to buy a house soon… this is not good.
At the library last month I picked up The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach and I am sooooo glad I did. The title almost put me off because I hate cheesy titles like that and I don’t aspire to be a millionaire either so it seemed like a waste of paper to me. It was the “automatic” part that made me check it out. In my job (I work from home) much of my income is passive… it is on autopilot. So the idea of set and it forget it is my kind of tactic. I ended up devouring the book in a couple hours an haven’t shut up about it since. It motivated me to reactivate my Mint account (which is a most awesome free money management program), encourage my husband to double his 401K contributions, set up a ING account for myself, and an IRA fund. The book not only demystified a lot of financial jargon that eluded me before … the automatic process that he recommends is spot on. I now have a habit of taking any income that comes to me and taking 12% off the top immediately… for our future.
The only thing that slightly bothered me while reading the book was that it was several years old and written before the 2008/09 financial mess. But alas he also wrote a book written last year called Start Over, Finish Rich which addresses finances in bad times. It is equally awesome.
Oh and if you are looking for good fiction books to read… I read an amazing one recently. Wither is a new trilogy that knocked my socks off. It is about a young girl who lives in the US after an attempt to genetically engineer humans so they are disease free, goes terribly wrong. A genetic mutation spread the world over now causes men to die at 25 and women to die at 20.
Okay… on to other links.
On Mint Life I spied the article Don’t Let Your Baby Blow Your Grocery Budget. It has some great advice that is pretty green too.. aka not buying that yucky processed baby food and not buying all the baby gadgets that are marketed to us.
On My Dollar Plan this morning is a great article titled 6 Surprising Benefits of the One Car Household. We went with one car for so long that even now we mostly use one car out of habit. Our second vehicle is parked 95% of the time and it saves us tons of money but there are other benefits to.
Did you know that people with cluttered and messy houses are typically the same people who have have messy finances? Yikes! Yesterday I picked up an ebook that I am actually enjoying quite a bit. I posted a link on my Facebook page along with a coupon code to get the book for 1.00. That deal is expired but you can get it for $2.00 at the moment. The book is Creating Your Perfect Cleaning Schedule. Ironically I was thinking the other day that I wanted a chore chart of some kind to check off loads of laundry and see a visual of my “success” when I manged to stay on top of it. This ebook has a couple printables and one of them is a checkbox list where you can check off each load of laundry to go in the washer and dryer. I ended up doing 5 loads yesterday! Still can’t see the bottom of the basement floor but hey.. progress is progress. Code: 200for2
LOVED this Slow Family Living Post: Do You Want to be Right or Connected? Powerful stuff.
The Artful Parent posted an awesome tutorial on making Leaf and fern print t-shirts. I have some blank tees that could really use some fern printing on them to spice them up! I so want to do this!
DealPulp is offering a group buy deal on stainless steel cups. We have had some of the steel tumblers for years and we love them still. They are actually pretty hard to find so when I saw this deal I knew I had to share it. There is also a sale on BabyLegs until 9/6. Use code HALFOFF to get 50% off. That makes most pairs only $6. We had to get some of the candy corn BabyLegs.
And lastly the Nourished Kitchen is offering an awesome ecourse on How to Cook Real Food. Learn to prepare wholesome, traditional foods easily with this online course.
Spied any awesome articles or blog posts this week? Share below.