earth day foods

We’re diving Right in to the first week of Earth Month with seven days of bite-sized goals for the kitchen!

Eco-chic lifestyle expert, Ashlee Piper of The Little Foxes, helped us launch our month-long Eco-Challenge last Friday with simple goals to drive less, tech less, and connect more. Who knew going green could be so deep?

For the next seven days, we’re taking the challenge into the kitchen with daily tips that will get you thinking about earth friendliness without knocking your week out of whack.

Go back and check out last weekend’s first round of tips if you missed them, then join with us this week through the end of April as we all look for small, workable ways to do our part for the planet.

Let us know which of the daily tips end up sticking with you and your own favorite ways to make greener living an easy reality!

Monday, April 4th: Refuse Refuse
Did you know that the average American throws away around 6 pounds of trash a day, and only about 15% of that can be or gets recycled? Imagine carrying that around all day! Most of that waste is preventable. Today, focus on ways you can refuse unneeded items. Just say no to straws, plastic cutlery, and that mountain of napkins at your favorite restaurant. Pass on plastic bags and paper receipts. Be like a celebrity diva and turn your nose up at crap you don’t need. After all, it’s for a good cause. It may be April Fool’s, but we ain’t joking!

Tuesday, April 5th: B.Y.O.B.
Not just for wine anymore, bringing your own bottles and cups is a big planet saver. Each day, 60 million plastic water bottles alone are thrown away each day. Opt for a chic reusable bottle (I am a sucker for bkr’s trendy glass bottles) and bring your own reusable mug to your favorite coffee shop. Some will even give you a discount for bringing your own. The perks? You’ll stay better hydrated with sippage at your fingertips (hello, dewy skin!) and you’ll help spread awareness when your favorite barista asks you about your cute new mug habit.

Wednesday, April 6th: Create a Portable Eco-Arsenal
It carries your gym shoes, laptop, lunch and various other items, but if you’ve got a few lightweight reusable basics in your bag at your fingertips wherever you go, you’re much better equipped to refuse disposables. Outfit your daily bag with the following: A set of bamboo cutlery, a collapsible reusable shopping bag, small cloth bag (to hold sandwiches, produce, or snacks), reusable water bottle (S’well is nice because it can hold hot or cold bevvies), stainless steel straw, and a cloth napkin. These items take up little space, but will help you eschew hundreds of pounds of waste each year.

Extra credit: If you eat out and take home leftovers consistently, bringing your own stainless steel bento box in lieu of Styrofoam, plastic, and paper takeout containers.

Thursday, April 7th: Go Meatless
Go meatless for a meal, for a day, for the month, for your whole dang life. Whatever works best for you. Eschewing meat is one of the most eco-friendly things you can do, and with so many tasty options (be sure to peruse The Chalkboard’s tasty plant-powered recipes or try my Pan-Fried Avocado Tacos with Pickled Onions), it’s easier than ever. One pound of beef requires 1,900 gallons of water, not to mention all of the rainforest clearing and CO2 emissions that go along with animal agriculture (the U.N. ranks it one of the leading causes of environmental distress; worse than all transportation industries combined. Yikes!).

What’d you make/nosh for your tasty meatless meal?

Friday, April 8th: Shop the Farmer’s Market
Few things are as fun as a trip to a sunny, brimming-with-fresh-goodies farmer’s market and it’s the perfect complement to your tech-free 24 hours. Bring your reusable tote bags and buy as many package-free provisions as you’ll need for the week. From loaves of fresh bread, to veggies and fruits, to gorgeous plants, homemade jams, and even soaps, discover your local market, get to know the sellers, and enjoy the fruits (literally) of your visit by making a dope meal from your purchases. You’ll save money, support local businesses, eat more healthfully and help the planet by eschewing the package- and energy-heavy superstore.

What did you get at the farmer’s market?

Saturday, April 9th: Shift How You Shop
With a few small habit changes, you can make a trip to the grocery store more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly. Firstly, use your phone to create a list that maps to the store and stick to it. Then, bring a kit of reusable grocery bags, mason jars (for items that would usually be packed in plastic containers like olives, pre-made foods, bulk spices, coffee), and smaller cloth bags (for produce and bread). Then, shop the perimeter of the store where most items are less packaged and opt for bulk bins wherever possible. You’ll not only save money (generally bulk items are 20% cheaper), but you’ll cut down on unnecessary packaging.

Bonus: Less packaging often means you’re eating more healthfully, and we dig that. We love Zero Waste Home for guidance on how to create your own green shopping kit and where to find stores that sell a host of items in bulk.

Sunday, April 10th: Consider Compost
You reuse. You reduce. You recycle. Now it’s time to consider composting! You see, organic matter (i.e. food scraps) in landfills break down anaerobically (without oxygen) and produce methane gas, a greenhouse gas 21 times more harmful than CO2. It doesn’t matter if you live in a giant metropolis or a small town, composting options are available to all and chicer (and less smelly) than ever. From freezing your food waste and bringing it to the Farmer’s Market (many vendors will gladly accept it to add to their compost heaps) to backyard and compact kitchen composters to services like Chicago-based Healthy Soil Compost, which provides bins and picks up waste weekly via bicycles, there’s an option that makes sense for your lifestyle and schedule.

Do you compost?

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