HOW WE’RE TURNING OUR ZERO WASTE GOALS INTO COMMUNITY ACTION

How we're turning our zero waste goals into community action.

Every weekend we bring you a list of links that inspire, inform, and encourage. This week: It’s all about community. 

Our individual zero waste goals won’t change the world. That’s why at Zeroish we’re determined to turn our zero waste aspirations into community action.

Tomorrow the Zeroish team will be at the Nokomis Green Fair talking about easy steps you can make toward zero waste. We’re also launching two zero waste projects this spring to make sustainable living more accessible to everyone.

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HOW TO PACK DELICIOUS, AFFORDABLE ZERO WASTE SNACKS AND LUNCHES

How to pack delicious, affordable zero waste snacks and lunches. Read more at www.zeroish.org.

Nobody wants to be that creepy lady at the park, but I couldn’t stop staring at the family sitting at the picnic table next to me. What were they eating?

I had just started zero waste grocery shopping, and I was absolutely stumped on what to buy for my kids’ snacks and lunches. No more plastic bags of Goldfish crackers? No more applesauce pouches? There had to be something easier than homemade organic fruit leather that I could feed my kids, but I had no idea what it was.

And then there was that family. The kids were happily eating from strange stainless steel containers with lots of little compartments. There were no plastic baggies in sight. And it wasn’t just raisins and carrot sticks, either. They had variety! It looked pretty good!

Don’t be like me, stalking strangers’ food in public places.

Talk zero waste lunches with us.

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21 WAYS TO REUSE LEFTOVERS WHEN COMPOSTING ISN’T AN OPTION

21 Ways to Reuse Leftovers when Composting isn't an Option

In the world of zero waste, composting is generally considered a must. This can be done via a backyard compost pile or bin, vermicomposting, or a municipal organics recycling program.

We know that food waste is a huge problem, and accounts for a massive amount of the total waste and carbon emissions generated in the U.S. This rotting food, which does not compost due to lack of oxygen in a landfill, creates toxic methane gas, a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Plus, composting is nature’s perfected way to create rich, nutritious soil to put back on your plants or garden in lieu of toxic chemical fertilizers.

However, I also realize that composting is not always possible or accessible for people, despite their best intentions.

Maybe you’re moving and temporarily don’t have access to a compost bin (I’ve been there).Maybe you live in a small apartment with no yard or access to an organics recycling service (also been there).Maybe you’re elderly or disabled and composting just isn’t a physical reality for you.
Or maybe, right now in your zero waste journey, you just haven’t gotten to the composting part yet (been there, too).

Whatever the reason, I understand, and I’m here to give you some alternate ideas to utilize a portion of your food waste in a more eco-friendly way than tossing it all straight in the trash.

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WHY I’M NOT DEPRESSED ABOUT MORE DISPOSABLE PLASTICS AND WHAT MCDONALD’S HAS TO DO WITH MY OPTIMISM

Every weekend we bring you a list of links that inspire, inform, and encourage. This week: A boom of new plastics plants in the U.S. will create 40% more single-use, disposable plastics over the next decade, but I’m not down about it. (McDonald’s has something to do with my optimism.)

Plus, get on board with the anti-plastics movement by finding a zero waste store near you or ordering your plastic-free alternatives online.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WINTER COMPOSTING

What you need to know about winter composting

It’s January in Minnesota. I trudge up the snow covered (and slippery) hill in the backyard. In one mittened hand, I hold the handle of a bucket full of kitchen waste – carrot peels, orange skins, coffee grounds, and the like. Halfway up the hill I reach the plateau where our chicken coop and compost bins are located.

I open the hinged door of one of the compost bins and upturn the bucket onto a very frozen pile of older kitchen scraps and the straw that was cleaned out of the chicken coop last week. It’s below zero (F) and the pile is very, very frozen. Not a whole lot of actual composting going in this very cold compost pile. What I’ve just added on the top will be frozen solid in a matter of hours in these cold conditions.

So, just how are you supposed to compost year round in places with extremely cold winters?

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HOW TO SHOP ZERO WASTE WITH YOUR KIDS IN TOW AND SANITY INTACT

How to shop zero waste with your kids in tow and sanity intact

Prepping for my first zero waste grocery trip felt like planning a journey to a far-off country. And not in a good way.

What do I pack? What’s a tare? I don’t speak the language. Everyone’s going to stare at me!

Selecting our food felt hard enough. Throw in a toddler meltdown on aisle three, and zero waste grocery shopping seemed downright impossible.  

The first several times I shopped zero waste, I left the kids at home. But kid-free shopping is a luxury, and I knew I’d eventually have to figure out how to get groceries with my crew in tow. (Especially if we wanted to, you know, eat on a regular basis.)

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ZERO WASTE TRAVEL: HOW TO PLAN A TRIP THAT’S FUN, EASY, AND SUSTAINABLE

Zero Waste Travel: How to Plan a Trip That's Fun, Easy, and Sustainable

Travel and zero waste aren’t always natural bedfellows. If you frequently travel by air, your travel likely makes up a significant portion of the emissions you generate each year. Sometimes there are greener alternatives to air travel – trains, ferries, even long-haul bike rides. But, in many cases, especially in the U.S., these alternatives are not practical, or even present.

There are people who choose to give up air travel all together out of concern for their environmental impact. But, most people, including myself, aren’t willing to give up flying entirely. For me, one of the greatest things about the time in which we are living is the ease and speed with which we can traverse the globe. It is absolutely amazing to me that someone can wake up in France and be in New York by afternoon. Journeys that used to take weeks can be undertaken in a single day. Travel freshens our perspective, gives us a chance to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds, try new things, and speak new languages.

So, when we are traveling, how can we make our travel more zero waste?

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REAL LIFE: I STARTED A TOY LIBRARY

Real Life: I Started a Toy Library

This is one of our Real Life interviews, in which we talk to people who are doing good for the Earth.

Are you ever overwhelmed by how many toys your kids have? Does it seem your kids outgrow or lose interest in toys almost as fast as they receive them? Molly Stern, one of the founders of the Minneapolis Toy Library, created a community solution to solve these problems and decrease the number of toys winding up in the trash.

For those of us who don’t know, what’s a toy library?

A Toy Library is just like a library that lends books, only we are lending toys that are geared towards kids ages 0-5 years old. We have toys in many different categories that allow for learning and development to take place while children explore and play.

Tell us how the toy library began.

The library began when a friend of mine from college visited me during my maternity leave. She talked about how quickly her son’s interests were changing and how she’s drawn to the theories and practices of minimalist lifestyles. She said she had read about Toy Libraries and wished one existed. I saw an email come through from the Center for the New American Dream about starting a project in your community. We got to work and achieved our first matching grant. The call was put out to find more people to help us get off the ground and luckily for us Rebecca and Rosie quickly jumped aboard! They both bring a specific skill set to this organization, both in terms of being moms themselves, but also having expertise in inventory structure and passion for recycling. Fast forward three years later, now we are operating with myself, Rosie and Rebecca and an array of incredible volunteers that help us staff each lending event and promotional outreach events.

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