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#NoWasteChallengeSD: 7 Ways to Reduce Your Waste Before Earth Day

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Tackling food waste has been a hot topic of conversation in San Diego over the last few years. We are lucky to live in a city that is passionate about no-waste cooking, diverting food waste, composting, and supporting our local growers. And, if you’re like me, no-waste extends beyond food.

Have you seen the videos of the scientists pulling straws out of the sea turtle’s nostrils? (Warning, it is heartbreaking.) Or how about the sea horse that is latched on to a Q-Tip? It needs to stop and it can start with us. If we can all pledge to eliminate (or at least partially eliminate) single use items from our homes, especially plastic, we are off to a good start.

Plastic is the worst single-use item on the planet. Every piece of plastic that was ever created remains on our earth in some way today. In honor of Earth Day, let’s ban together and do our part to make our community a more sustainable one. Tell a friend that you’re taking the no-waste challenge and maybe they’ll try it too.

Don’t know where to start? We have eight swaps to get you started.

Ditch plastic wrap, and say hello to Bees Wrap

We LOVE our Bees Wraps. We wrap our cheeses and loaves of bread in it, cover bowls of leftovers with it, and can’t believe how versatile this plastic alternative is. You can purchase Bees Wraps directly online or visit our friends at City Farmers Nursery, who stock an assortment of different sizes.

Drop the Ziplocks, and say hello to Mason Jars

Jars literally come in all shapes and sizes. Small ones for dressings, medium ones for that extra half an onion, large ones for snacks or mason jar salads; when in doubt, throw it in a jar! There are also a ton of dishwasher safe lid alternatives that don’t rust. Pro tip: You can

Say no to plastic straws, and meet re-usable metal ones

They come in all lengths and diameters. We have short ones for cocktails, wide ones for smoothies, bent ones for pint glasses…you name it, it’s out there! Almost all of the packs of metal straws will come with a cleaning brush too. Have no fear, they’re super easy to clean. You can buy them online or at Collins & Coupe.

See ya, store bought cleaners, hello DIY cleaners

We have been making our own all-purpose house cleaner for six years now. I love doing this for many reasons: firstly, I know EXACTLY what is in each cleaner and all items are safe and chemical-free. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, chances are it’s not natural. It is also WAY cheaper to make your own cleaners than to buy them! The average bottle of cleaner at the store is approximately $4.00. It costs on average about $30.00 for all the ingredients in our all-purpose cleaner and I can literally make at least 25 batches out of it. To make our recipe from EpicureanSanDiego.com, you'll need: 8 cups hot water, 2 tablespoons Borax, 2 tablespoons Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, 1/2 cup Distilled White Vinegar, 1 tablespoon Tea Tree Oil, 1 tablespoon Eucalyptus Oil, and 1 tablespoon Lavender Oil. Mix all the ingredients in a large jug, and you're ready to go. Watch the video here if you want to see how easy it is.

Lose the paper towels, and embrace microfiber cloths

Moment of truth: This is one that we have not been able to completely eliminate from our house, but we have been able to tremendously reduced our usage. We have dogs and love to cook, so sometimes there are things that need to be wiped up that you’d rather just wipe and toss. But for most household chores, a microfiber cloth works even better than a paper towel. If you go to Costco, they have a huge pack of 36 microfiber cleaning towels for under $20.00.

Sayonara paper napkins, hello linen

Guilty as ever, we were using paper napkins (though I will say they were eco-friendly!), until we did a 30 day trial in our house to see how many cloth napkins we would use, how many extra loads of laundry we would do, and if switching to linen was still convenient for us. Turns out, it was easy! We weren’t doing any extra laundry, instead we were throwing our napkins in with our towels. I had a bunch of extra linen napkins from an event that we decided to retire into home napkins and I have honestly not looked back. You can find affordable packs of linen napkins at HomeGoods, Target and super cute ones at World Market.

Don't leave sustainability at home! Here are a few tips for taking waste-reducing practices with you:

  1. Ask for your drink without a straw.
  2. If you’re ordering food to go, let the establishment know that you do not need plastic silverware.
  3. When you are out shopping, bring your own reusable shopping bags
  4. Ditch bottled water and buy a double walled canteen!
  5. Return your berry containers, egg cartons, jars to your farmers market vendors.
  6. Shop less online! Support your local shop that has items you love. This will help reduce cardboard waste, reduce your carbon footprint and keeps shopping convenient and affordable.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
Stephanie Parker
Stephanie Parker is the founder and CEO of Epicurean San Diego, a local agritourism and events company. She is a committed locavore who serves as the Farm Liaison on the board for Slow Food Urban San Diego. In her free time you’ll find her outside with her dogs, cooking at home with her husband or dining out with friends.
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