Food waste is a huge problem in the United States. The U.S. EPA estimates that 30% of household waste can be composted, which is a great way to reduce the size of your trash. But food sent to a landfill eventually decomposes….right? Wrong! Organic materials like food, paper and yard waste get trapped under layers of garbage and lack the proper sunlight and air flow to break down. Instead, they create methane gas—a potent greenhouse gas that’s 25% more destructive than carbon monoxide. Adding a compost bin to your home helps keep organics out of the landfill and returns nutrients back to the Earth.
If your local curbside service doesn’t offer a green bin, consider starting one at home. If you lack backyard space, look for a local farmer’s market, community garden or find a drop-off through sharethewaste.com.
Lily Cameron in Wild Minimalist How to Start:
- Beyond food scraps. There are a number of household items, other than food, that can be composted like paper bags, pizza boxes, wood skewers and cotton balls. Always review local guidelines to see what items are acceptable.
- Find what’s right for you. Do some research to find what compost method works best for your household. There are so many to choose from—tumblers, vermicomposting (with worms), bokashi buckets, and even electric composters. I love my Vitamix FoodCycler.
Does it surprise you that recycling is one of the least effective ways to reduce waste? If we follow the previous 3 R’s of zero waste, Refuse, Reduce and Reuse, we will actually recycle less, not more. Recycling, while important, often just delays the process of sending a product to landfill. The key is to recycle smarter, following local guidelines carefully and not “wishcycling” things you’re unsure about. It’s estimated that 25% of all recycled items don’t belong in the blue bin, and this contamination can break or damage recycling equipment, slow down operations and cost taxpayers money. On a positive note, glass and metal can be recycled indefinitely without a loss of quality. By comparison, plastic can usually only be downcycled and turned into a lesser quality product before it ends up in a landfill. For example, a plastic water bottle will never be recycled into a new water bottle, but might be turned into carpet fiber or fleece. Ref: Wild Minimalist
How to Start: Recycle Medina County
Review guidelines: Always review local recycling guidelines which can vary city to state. Be sure to clean empty food containers—lots of grease and food residue can contaminate an entire bin or truckload of recyclables, sending them to a landfill.
Note: in Medina, only plastic shaped like a bottle or jug, with the neck smaller than the base, can be recycled.
Hard to recycle items: Before you toss something, see if you can find a drop off for items not accepted in your curbside recycling program, like, appliances containing refrigerant, batteries, fluorescent lightbulbs, computers, motor oil, and antifreeze Recycle plastic bags at local grocery stores and cell phones at the Sheriff’s office
RecycleMedinaCounty.com 8700 Lake Road, Seville, OH 44273 330-769-0289
Buy recycled. Support recycling efforts by buying items made from recycled products, especially plastics. It’s often cheaper to produce plastic products from virgin materials, so it’s important to show companies that there’s a demand for recycled products. Since the 1990s, the manufacture of polyester from petroleum (think plastic) has reduced the cost of clothing by 1⁄2. Therefore, we are able to afford to replace clothing long before it is worn out. We are replacing at a rate much greater than the need for used clothing around the world, resulting in huge piles of discarded clothing (plastic). Reuse before you recycle, or purchase clothes made from recycled clothes.
EARTH DAY FILMS TO ENJOY
The upcoming Earth Day Mini Film Fest (Apr. 18-24) is sponsored by the One Earth Film Festival, Chicago: Earth Day — One Earth Film Festival
Programming will be on-line; you must register to get a free ticket. This link provides access to a variety of short films that can be viewed online. The films include the following:
- Dangerous Neighbor Tuesday, April 19, 6:30 p.m. CDT
This film chronicles the battle against a polluting coal plant on the south side of Peoria, Illinois.
- Community Power Indiana: Beyond the Line Tuesday, April 19, 6:30 p.m. CDT
One of the largest, fully electric bus rapid transit (BRT) systems in the nation emerges in Indianapolis.
- Monty and Rose 2 Wednesday, April 20, 6:30 p.m. CDT
This tells the story of a pair of endangered piping plovers attempting to nest on a busy beach in Chicago. They became the first piping plovers, since 1948, to successfully nest within the city limits of Chicago. The documentary chronicles these unique birds and an unpredictable series of events, including a proposed music festival that propelled them to national headlines.
- The Ground Between Us Thursday, April 21, 6:30 p.m. CDT
Since 2017 Americans from both sides of the political spectrum have protested the shrinking of Bears Ears National Monument, oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the near privatization of Elliott State Forest in Oregon. This film presents these public lands debates along- side the day-to-day realities of three families who hold vastly different connections and perspectives on public lands. In a divided America, it shows that public lands can be a uniting factor.
- Ascension- Friday, April 22, 6:30 p.m. CDT
Nominated for the 2022 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, this film is an impressionistic exploration of the pursuit of wealth and the paradox of progress in the People’s Republic of China. Ascension examines what living the so-called “Chinese Dream” looks like today. In the film, we find a contemporary vision of China that prioritizes productivity and innovation above all.
- Eating Up Easter Saturday, April 23, 3 p.m. CDT
The iconic statues and sensationalized “mysteries” of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) have drawn the interest of the world for centuries, attracting curious visitors to its shores. Today, this tiny, barren is- land is experiencing an economic boon as tourism skyrockets. Yet the indigenous culture and the island’s fragile environment are suffering. In their own voices, these Rapa Nui reveal the reality of modern life and the actions they are taking to preserve their culture and environment amidst rapid development.
- Mottainai Kitchen Sunday, April 24, 3 p.m. CDT
A culinary road movie, tackling the issue of food waste and other environmental issues in Japan, and searching for sustainable solutions. The film follows filmmaker and food activist David Gross on a mobile kitchen as he discovers the fascinating Japanese concept of “Mottainai” or don’t waste anything that still has value. On his journey to finding solutions to Japan’s food waste problem, Gross meets local chefs, scientists and farmers while creating tasty recipes for a “Zero Waste Kitchen Revolution.”
Many daily items are designed to be used once before they’re thrown away. And, we can be quick to toss and replace belongings that become damaged or dirty. By reusing a product, even once, you reduce the waste that comes from manufacturing, transporting and packaging a brand new item. Reusing is simply extending a product’s usefulness before it’s recycled, composted or sent to landfill. It’s repairing clothing, shoes, furniture and electronics when they are damaged. It can also be finding creative new uses for items, like turning an empty pasta sauce jar into food storage, a vase or container to propagate plants. It’s buying secondhand items from the thrift store, borrowing from neighbors and renting versus buying. And, it’s switching to reusable products like unpaper towels, silicone sandwich bags and a safety razor, when you run out of disposables. By Lily Cameron in Wild Minimalist
How to Start:
- Rent a Dress. For the next special occasion, rent a dress or suit instead of buying something new. It’s a great way to score a designer item for the night and save money.
- Resole Boots. When your boots become worn, consider taking them to a shoe cobbler to get them polished and resoled. They’ll look good as new.
- Veggie Stock. Save veggie scraps like peels and ends to make a delicious homemade stock for soups, stews and sauces. And replant root ends of celery, green onions, garlic. They can be put in dirt or a small saucer of water.
- Make juice from fruit peels and cores or from fresh fruit that is beyond its prime, but still good, by placing these in water to sit until they impart their flavor to the water.
- Clean scissors by dripping lemon juice or white vinegar onto the blades. Sprinkle the blades with coarse salt and rub the blades into a cork.
- Clean tarnished silver. Dip lemon zest into a small dish of salt. Rub this onto the tarnish. Whiten linens. Fill a pot with water and add a few lemon slices. Bring this to a boil; remove from the heat and add the linens. Soak linens for up to 1 hour. Remove and launder as usual.
If we consumed nothing, there would be no waste. But the goal of zero waste is not to buy nothing, but to buy less and be more intentional before making new purchases. Shopping can give us an endorphin rush similar to sex or working out, and we can literally become addicted to the pleasure of buying something new. That pleasure is short lived and we are left with less money and items we don’t actually use or need, not to mention guilt.
Start by reducing the items you own. The process of decluttering is an incredibly helpful exercise for resetting our consumption patterns. You may discover unworn clothing with the price tag still on or five different cooking tools that serve the same purpose. When we own fewer things, we tend to take better care of our remaining belongings and we might think twice before making new purchases. (Ref: Lily Cameron in Wild Minimalist).
How to Start:
- Spending freeze. If you have the impulse to buy something, try waiting a week or even a month.
- Often, after some time has passed, you will no longer want it.
- Declutter: Go through each room in your home and gather items to donate, sell or recycle.
- Reduce footprint: Try to walk or bike instead of using the car for nearby trips, take shorter showers, and remember to turn off the lights when you leave a room.
- Reduce plastic packaging by making your own:
- Body Lotion: 1 part olive oil + 1 part coconut oil (both can be purchased in glass containers) heat in microwave to liquid form and store in glass jar. Experiment with ratio to get the desired consistency.
- Multipurpose Spray Cleaners: Partially fill a quart jar with white vinegar, leaving just enough space to add citrus peels left from oranges, lemons, etc. that you use in cooking. Add the citrus and let this sit for at least two weeks. When this is ready, dilute with a quart of water and add a few drops of dishwashing soap and, if desired, a few drops of essential oil for fragrance.
- Homemade Salad Dressing, (Thank you Mary Euse)
Strawberry Poppy Seed Dressing
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1⁄4 cup canola oil
2/3 cup diced fresh strawberries
2 1⁄2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Add all ingredients except poppy seeds to a blender. Process until strawberries are well pureed. Pour into a jar and stir in poppy seeds, cover and store in refrigerator.
Some items are easily found that are nontoxic and not packaged in plastic bottles (ones I like:) Laundry detergent (ex:TruEarth) Dishwasher detergent (ex: Grove Co.) Shampoo and conditioner (Grove Co.) Wool dryer balls for fabric softener Foaming hand soap (Blue Land)
The R with the biggest impact on waste reduction, REFUSE, is also very easy to implement with some preparation and practice. We are continuously offered free items in our daily lives— grocery and shopping bags, plastic straws, flyers, junk mail. We rarely need these disposable products, but we’ve been conditioned to accept them. Instead, keep a to-go kit handy when you’re heading out. Reusable bags for grocery and shopping trips, a reusable mug or water bottle to hydrate, cutlery and cloth napkin for dining out and a container for leftovers. In terms of freebies like business cards, swag, beauty samples, etc., get in the practice of saying “no thanks.” It may feel impolite or rude at first, but when we accept these disposable items we reinforce the demand for more wasteful products.
How To Start:
- Plastic straws: Request no straw when you’re dining out and consider bringing a reusable metal or glass straw when you’re on the go.
- Business cards and flyers: Take a picture of it on your phone.
- Dentist freebies: Let them know you don’t need free samples so they can use it for the next patient.
- Catalogues received in mail: call the number on the back and ask to be taken off the mailing list.
Ref: Lily Cameron in Wild Minimalist.