Photo used under Creative Commons from Ace Solid Waste
Every year people get rid of billions of tons of trash. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces about 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of garbage a day, or a total of 29 pounds (13 kg) per week and 1,600 pounds (726 kg) a year. All of this garbage has to go somewhere and that somewhere is usually a landfill. We are running out of space!
Where does all this garbage come from? Most of the stuff that we send off to landfills comes from single-use products and product packaging. Our society is all about disposability- “use-and-toss” products are filling our garbage cans. Let’s face it, we are a trash culture. The only way to reduce the amount of garbage we contribute to landfills is to learn how to reduce our consumption of use-and-toss products.
Check out these 20 things you can do to reduce your trash:
Let me know which are keepers……..
Paper towels-try out a cloth that can be washed.
Paper plates and cups-use the real deal whenever possible or opt for reusable.
Silverware-metal is the way to go.
Plastic grocery bags-reusable bags are a great alternative.
Bottled water-reusable bottles will hold all sorts of drinks.
Individually packaged snacks-buy snacks in a regular sized bag and put single servings in reusable bags.
Disposable Napkins-try reusable.
Plastic baggies-replace with reusable bags that can be washed.
Garbage bags– try to reuse bags that are not messy inside by emptying the garbage out and reusing the bag.
Cotton balls-try using a cloth instead.
Printer cartridges-get the old ones refilled rather than buying new cartridges.
Batteries-invest in rechargeable batteries instead of disposable batteries.
Mail-opt to receive statements and bills electronically when possible.
Bubble wrap–Beth at Fake Plastic Fish suggests trying to reuse something you already have for packaging-try newspaper or old rags.
Plastic wrapand foil-use a container with a cover instead for food storage.
Aluminum foil-use a pot with a cover or for storage, use a glass container.
Razors-get reusable instead of single-use razors.
Liquid hand soaps in plastic containers-get a few reusable, decorative containers and refill them.
Disposable diapers-consider changing to cloth.
Juice boxes– although easy and convenient these boxes could take 300-400 years to decompose in landfills and they are not recyclable. Reusable bottles are the way to go.
Don’t forget to recycle. Such simple ways to make every day earth day!
Nutrition Keys will soon appear on the front of Food Packaging
Say hello to ‘Nutrition Keys’. The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute unveiled the industry’s voluntary Nutrition Keys that will display calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar content per serving on the front of food packaging. Some packages will also contain additional information known as “nutrients to encourage” such as potassium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron and protein.
The rational behind the new labels stems from a push from First Lady, Michele Obama, as part of her initiative to solve childhood obesity. The new labels are meant to give consumers a quick and easy reference to nutritional information and encourage healthier food choices.
Although voluntary, most companies have jumped on-board and will begin to add the Nutrition Keys within the next few months, but will also keep in place the required black and white nutritional information box usually found on the back of the packaging.
Will the Nutrition Key initiative really help with food choices?
Nutrition Keys don’t really provide us with new information. The mandated nutrition box on the back of the product already has this information plus much more.
The new labeling is a bit condescending towards the consumer. Are we as consumers too lazy to flip the product over and look at all the nutritional information.
When I decide whether or not to purchase a product I need to have all the information in one spot: ingredients and all the nutritional information. The Nutrition Keys don’t give us the full picture. Dr. David Katz gave a great example: “Diet soda has no calories, no sodium, no sugar, and no saturated fat, so by the Nutrition Keys criteria, it would look like a perfect food. Does anybody believe it is?”
I am undecided as to whether or not consumers will pay attention to this new form of labeling-or just ignore it. I guess only time will tell…..
If you’ve had a chance to check out The Nutrition Keys, the print is much larger than the nutrition box. Since I am constantly squinting to read the fine print in the nutrition box, the large print is a small plus.
This is the first time we have seen negative information about a product front and center on a product-usually it is hidden away on the back.
Continue to flip your products over and real the FULL version of nutritional information. This is the only way to make an educated decision about your food choices. It can be confusing-but have no fear there is an app to help you sort through it all- Fooducate.
Looking for more information? Healthy Child Healthy World has some great tips on how to avoid the food label lies.
What are your thoughts on this new labeling? Do you think Nutrition Keys will help in the fight against childhood obesity? Will they help you make better food choices?
If this post helped you, please share it. And please grab our RSS feed or sign up for free e-mail updates to get more Groovy Green info hot off the press! Thanks!
Is a gym membership in your future for 2011? Or maybe you’re already a dedicated gym rat? Whether your membership is an obligatory New Year’s resolution or already a daily obsession, try these simple green practices you can incorporate into your gym workout to reduce your carbon footprint and help the planet.
Use a reusable water bottle. Break your disposable bottle water habit and switch to a reusable water bottle. Breaking the plastic disposable bottled water habit reduces the use of fossil fuels and toxic greenhouse gases that come from manufacturing plastic bottles. By using a reusable water bottle you are also helping reduce the number of plastic bottles that end up in landfills, sitting for years while they try unsuccessfully to decompose. I am hooked on Klean Kanteen.
Don’t use plastic bags for your sweaty gym gear. My gym offers plastic bags to carry my sweaty work out gear home. In 2011 I am going to try to BYORB (bring your own reusable bag) for that sweaty work out gear. You’ve heard me say it over and over. plastic bags are bad, bad, bad.
Gear up in green ware.Replacing your entire workout wardrobe with eco-friendly duds isn’t realistic. As you need to replace old, worn out tops, bottoms and shoes think organic, hemp or non-synthetic. Buying organic clothing reduces pollution, saves energy and water, and helps reduce the amount of junk added to landfills. When buying new, look for companies with sustainable business practices like REI and Patagonia.
Join a human powered gym. More gyms are using specially designed equipment to capture the energy you create while sweating and pedaling, turning it into useful electricity. Last year The Green Microgym opened in Portland, Oregon and has been able to reduce its carbon emissions by 60%.
Mix it up and use the great outdoors.On a beautiful day don’t waste the energy required to run a treadmill or stationery bike when the whole world is at your finger tips. Go for a run, bike ride or walk and breath in the fresh air.
Photo used under Creative Commons from Colin Davis
Bring your own towel.I have to admit, I love the towel service at my gym. There is nothing like walking in, taking as many towels as you need and then conveniently dumping them in a bin on the way out. However, many times the towels are washed in harsh detergents, bleaches, and disinfectants. Bring your own towel and you will be saving water and protecting yourself from potential toxins. This one will be a tough one for me to give up.
Advocate for the use of green products at your gym.My gym has an entire page on their website dedicated to environmental sensitivity, outlining all the green initiatives they have implemented. Check in with your gym-what are their green plans?
Do they recycle?
Do they use CFL or LED bulbs?
Do their televisions automatically turn off when not in use?
Do they use natural cleaning products?
Are toxin-free soaps available for use in the showers?
Do they use chemical free detergents to wash the towels?
Have they installed water-conserving shower heads or filters on their shower heads?
Here’s to healthy beginnings in 2011. Happy New Year.
Disclosure: If you buy any of the items in this post through one of the Amazon links it will put a few pennies in my pocket-no pressure!
*Top photo used under Creative Commons from Neeta Lind
I love Trader Joe’s for many of the same reasons this guy is singing about in this quirky, unauthorized commercial for TJ’s.
Hopefully the tune is now swimming around in your head, as it is in mine (misery loves company). But today my love for TJ’s was tossed aside and all I felt was anger. While opening my newly acquired bag of brussel sprouts, I noticed that the plastic bag was labeled “Microwavable Bag –Ready in 3 Minutes”. In fairness to TJ’s, similar bags of sprouts and other veggies are sold at other stores, but the TJ’s label happened to be on this particular bag.
I’m angry because those simple words on their bag are misleading-they are telling people that it is OK to cook their food in a plastic bag. IT IS NOT OK. The truth is IT ISN’T KNOWN how much risk there is in low-level exposure to plasticizers or chemicals in plastic containers and bags.
Beth says : ” Stop heating plastic. Period. Do not put it in the microwave. Do not put it in the oven. Do not put it in the dishwasher, even on the top rack. Heat causes plastics to leach more readily. If you must eat food from plastic containers, please hand wash them with warm (not hot) water. Do not serve hot food in them ever. And, if you’re still buying bottled beverages (you’re not, right?), never store them in the hot trunk of a car.”
A few years back the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tested 10 plastics labeled “microwave safe”. All 10 products were found to release “toxic doses” of Bisphenol A (BPA) when heated in a microwave. The study found that the amounts detected were at levels that scientists have found cause neurological and developmental damage in laboratory animals.
Just because your food packaging says “microwave safe” it may not be. The term is not regulated by the government and has no certifiable meaning.
Take the safe route and avoid putting any plastic in the microwave. Stick to glass or ceramics.
BTW-I still love Trader Joe’s…….once I vent I don’t usually hold a grudge.
Many food products in our homes are tossed although they are still safe to eat. Thanks to those “Sell by” and “Best if Used By” dates stamped onto our food we are given permission to prematurely toss. A new website seeks to help curb our hasty decision to chuck food-Shelf Life Advice. The site shows us that in many instances food product dates encourage food waste. Shelf Life Advice is chock-full of information on: how to store food properly, understanding those stamped dates, correctly freezing food, recall information and handling food safely.
Wondering if you buy a gallon of milk by its sell date how long you have to drink it? Once you open a jar of sauce does the expiration date apply? What does “Best if Used By” really mean? All these answers and more can be found on Shelf Life Advice. So before you pitch those fruits and veggies that have been hanging around for a while, or the salad dressing and dips that are hiding in the back of your fridge-turn to Shelf Life Advice for guidance.
Photo used under Creative Commons from Alby Headrick
After writing my last post about meat labels, lots of questions came flying in about where to buy that healthy, antibiotic and hormone free Thanksgiving bird. So I thought I would supplement the label info with some insight on where to find your turkey.
Remember: the best organic food is what is grown or raised closest to you.
Local Harvest allows you to type in your zip and a list of local, organic farms will appear. This site can also be used to find CSA’s, farmers markets and restaurants in your neck of the woods.
Support your local, independant markets. Check to see what types of turkey they are offering before heading to the big box stores. They might carry locally raised organic turkeys.
Your Local Whole Foods Market-Before buying your turkey be sure to check where your bird flew in from. These birds may have traveled far to get to you. My local Whole Foods is selling turkeys from farms in Pennsylvania and California. That’s a lot of gas and pollution to get that Turkey to your table. Try to find a locally raised turkey.
GrassFed Traditions Something seems a little strange about buying your turkey online-but this site offers that convenience. Again, if the turkey had to travel far to reach you it seems to be negating the organic intent-but that’s for you to decide.
I was shocked to find an endless supply of online options for buying your turkey.
So where is my turkey coming from? I am off the hook this year. However, if I were in charge of the turkey I would use Local Harvest to find a local, organic turkey farm. Buying local almost guarantees my turkey will be fresher than anything in the supermarket, which means it will taste delicious and have more nutrients. There is nothing like supporting the locavore movement-eating food from local producers. One of the ways I do this is by supporting a year round CSA. You can’t beat the fresh veggies and fruit.
So….where’s your turkey coming from? Would you buy a turkey online?
With Thanksgiving just around the corner it is time to start thinking about where that big ol’ bird is going to come from. It would seem to be a simple task-pick out a turkey for dinner- but the labels on meat products make it overwhelming and confusing: natural, organic, free range, grassfed- to name a few. What do these terms really mean? Here are some definitions that can help you decide which turkey and other meat products to choose for you and your family.
Photo used under Creative Commons from Tim Psych
If a meat product has a USDA Organic stamp on the label it means the farm where the animal was raised followed the standards of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program. The livestock must be raised from birth organically-without antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones added to their 100% organic, vegetarian, pesticide and herbicide-free, non-GMO feed. The animals must also be allowed access to the outdoors. Unfortunately the USDA doesn’t have a detailed definition of “access” and this could mean a variety of things.
The meat was prepared according to Jewish dietary laws. Salt is added as part of the koshering process.
Photo used under Creative Commons from Tuchodi
Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. So this label won’t be seen on poultry or pork unless it is followed by a statement that says “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”
The “no hormones” label can be used on beef if it is shown that hormones were not administered.
The livestock hasn’t been treated with ANY antibiotics. This has to be verified by the USDA.
The livestock has access to the outdoors most of the year. As in organic meats-what does “access” really mean? Also-just because an animal has access doesn’t mean they actually go outside.
This term is not allowed to be used on a label.
According to the USDA “natural” indicates a product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. The label must explain the use of the term natural (such as – no added colorings or artificial ingredients; minimally processed.) It does not prohibit growth-promoting hormones or antibiotics.
The USDA’s definition of grassfed says that the animals diet has to be a 100 percent foraged diet. However, it does not say where that forage has to be fed. It also doesn’t address the use of hormones or antibiotics. Along came the American Grassfed Association and they took the USDA definition and added stricter guidelines which say the animals are not to be confined and are will not be treated with antibiotics throughout their lifetime. You can find the AGA logo on meat that adheres to these strict guidelines.
Food for thought: issues with “access to the outdoors” in the meat industry
If a meat product is labeled as free-range or free-roaming, organic or grassfed, the livestock is required to have access to the outdoors. However, this does not mean that the animal actually went outdoors. The farmer is obligated to leave the door to the coop or barn open briefly each day. Not all farmers take the requirement this literally -but there is a risk that the animal you are eating didn’t breath the outdoor air, even if it is labeled free-range or organic. Not a very humane way to treat animals. Is this enough to make you a vegetarian?
Now you can pick out your Turkey Day turkey with a little extra knowledge. Another option-Tofurkey. Have you tried one?