5 Minute Fixes

 

We all enjoy doing effortless things. It makes life easier and simpler. Unfortunately, if we want to help the environment, it’s not going to be as simple as we want. But there are many things that take 30 seconds to 10 minutes. We all can fit at least ten minutes in our life and definitely can take an extra 30 seconds.
Start by saying no:

  • Styrofoam

Styrofoam contains possible cancer-causing chemicals that melt off into our hot drinks and food. Styrofoam also never decomposes, so it stays on earth forever. Try using reusable containers like Tupperware when you take out food.

  • Straws

Plastic straws are one of the most common items of waste found on beaches. Many of you have probably seen the video of a turtle with a straw stuck in its nose, this video started the project of going strawless. Going strawless is very easy. You can either stop using straws or buy steel, silicon or paper straws. Personally, I like steel straws. I got my 6 from Amazon for 8 dollars. They work great and are easy to clean.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=metal+straws&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

 

  • Six pack rings

Six pack rings are also very harmful to sea creatures. They can get stuck around sea creatures bodies and suffocate them, or the animals can eat them. The best thing you can do is not use them. Buy soda in cardboard containers instead. That way you can recycle all the materials for your dozen sodas. If you use six-pack rings though, cut each circle of the rings. That way animals can’t get stuck in the little rings.

  • Plastic bags

Plastic bags are also very harmful to animals and our earth. Animals can eat them and get stuck in them. The bags can also let off toxins that go into our ground or water. Reusing the bags are great, but you still eventually throw them away. Try getting reusable bags. You can probably find ones at different business for free, or you can buy them at various stores.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=reusable+grocery+bags&crid=29RBHT6U3UG7N&sprefix=reusable+grocer+%2Caps%2C253&ref=nb_sb_ss_sc_1_16

 

  • Plastic produce bags

These have a lot of the same concerns as normal plastic bags. But there are different ways to avoid using them. Buy mesh bags online or in stores like natural grocers. These are lightweight and are a very easy switch.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=mesh+grocery+produce+bag&crid=1WZUPQ0JL4YXE&sprefix=mesh+grocer+%2Caps%2C260&ref=nb_sb_ss_sc_1_12

 

  • Ziploc bags

Ziploc bags are also a very easy waste to fix. Reuse the current ones you have, then buy reusable silicone ones. I found some on Amazon, but I’m assuming you can also find ones at stores like natural grocers.

https://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Storage-sandwiches-Stationery-organisation/dp/B078NXVJ7M/ref=sr_1_4?crid=Z2UO6H0LZS0L&keywords=ziploc+reusable+bags&qid=1553038815&s=gateway&sprefix=ziploc+reu%2Caps%2C256&sr=8-4

 

  • Saran wrap

Saran wrap contains chemicals that hurt humans and the environment. It has similar effects as many other plastics. This can be fixed though. You can buy beeswax wrap or make it homemade. It works really well and is very useful! I use mine for wrapping sandwiches and snacks.

https://www.beeswrap.com/

Other easy eco-friendly tips:

  • Hang clothes

Hanging clothes rather than drying them in a dryer is a simple and rewarding solution. All you have to do is take your clothes out of the washer and bring them outside. You don’t need a clothing line, in my house we use our deck railing and it works great. It leaves a sunny smell to it that I personally prefer more than a normal dryer smell. Just make sure to check the weather before you leave your clothes outside!

  • Buy Rechargeable batteries

There are many harmful situations that batteries cause. One situation is water pollution. Batteries have many harmful chemicals like mercury, lead, and cadmium. When they are disposed of, these chemicals can get into water areas and pollute them. This can damage drinking water and animals living environments. The best thing to do is to buy rechargeable batteries and a charger.

  • Toilet Trick

The amount of water used per flush in an older toilet is 5-7 gallons. Now it’s much less water for newer toilets, but if you still have an older toilet, you might want to try this toilet trick. Put a plastic bottle with a couple of pebbles in it in your toilet tank. This reduces the amount of water that fills your tank, so less water is wasted when flushed.

  • Ecosia

Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees per search. You can download it on your phone or put it on your computer. To put it on a computer you search Ecosia. Then a little note pops up saying “Add to Chrome”. If you click on that it will lead you to adding it as your search engine. Note: this may vary depending on computer brands. I know that it works on Apple products, Windows, and Google products, but I’m not sure for other companies.

https://www.ecosia.org/?c=en

 

Resources:
Polystyrene Foam Is Bad For Your Body and the Environment
Richard Bruno – https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-styrofoam-bill-20170216-story.html

Because You Asked: What’s So Bad About Plastic Straws?
https://livegreen.recyclebank.com/column/because-you-asked/what-s-so-bad-about-plastic-straws

Batteries and Their Effects on the Environment
EcoFriendlyLink – http://www.ecofriendlylink.com/blog/batteries-and-the-environment/

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Zero Waste Snacks

I eat granola bars almost every day. Even though they don’t have much packaging, I still hate throwing away the wrapper. So I decided to make zero waste granola bars. Along with the bars, I made peanut butter energy bites and peanut butter cups, all zero waste. Living in a small town, there really aren’t many options for buying things zero waste. This made the challenge of zero waste snacks very difficult.

Once I found a few zero waste recipes online, I decided to start shopping at our local health food store, Sundrop Health Foods. I brought multiple glass jars to fill up with my ingredients. When I went in there, I explained to the workers that I’m trying to make some foods zero waste. To my surprise, they didn’t sell bulk, so I couldn’t fill up my jars without using plastic. Being the nice workers they are, they decided to make an exception. They said I could open the bags of prepackaged ingredients and scoop out the amount I needed and they would refill the rest of the bag for other customers to buy. It took about 30 minutes to weigh, fill, then weigh the jars again. But eventually, we got everything measured out. Since they didn’t sell bulk honey or peanut butter, I bought them in glass jars. We can’t recycle glass here but I plan on reusing the glass for more zero waste recipes and drinking out of. Glass is great because it doesn’t have any dangerous chemicals that release into the contents of whatever is in your jar.

Granola Bars

Link to recipe: https://tinytrashcan.com/homemade-granola-bars/

The granola bars turned out very tasty, but I think I added too much honey so they fell apart whenever I tried picking them up. I’ll try again and see how they turn out, but overall, the bars were very delicious. I used all of the same ingredients as the recipe told, but instead of ground flaxseeds, I kept them whole. Mainly because I don’t mind them whole and didn’t want to ground them up.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup pistachios

1/3 cup cranberries (or other dried fruit)

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1/2 cup honey

Peanut Butter Balls

Link to recipe: https://chefsavvy.com/5-ingredient-peanut-butter-energy-bites/

I have made the peanut butter balls a few times before, never zero waste though. It was just as easy as not zero waste and tasted just as good. Same as the granola bars, I kept the flax seeds whole.

INGREDIENTS

⅔ cup creamy peanut butter

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup old fashioned oats

½ cup ground flax seeds

2 tablespoons honey

Peanut Butter Cups

Link to recipe:

https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/healthy-peanut-butter-chocolate-squares

Peanut butter cups are my personal favorite candy, but they include an abundance of useless plastics and wrappers. So I decided to make them myself. The health foods store does not carry cocoa butter, so I just used ½ cup of chocolate chips, and melted them with the coconut oil. The cups are very rich so I used small heart silicone molds to make the cups in.

Ingredients

1/2 Cup of Cocoa Butter

1/2 Cup of Coconut Oil

1/2 Cup of Organic Cocoa Powder

1/4 of Honey

1/4 Cup of Melted Peanut Butter

Overall, this project was very interesting. It was frustrating to see how little options there are for zero waste lifestyles here, but there are ways that you can work through the little options. By simple asking the employs questions and doing a little bit of research, you can find ways to become even a little bit more zero waste. I’m excited to try out more zero waste recipes in the future!

What’s so important about food waste?

In the USA, the most wasted material is food. Food waste isn’t a material that will stay on earth for hundreds of years, for it decomposes unlike non-biodegradable elements like styrofoam.  So the overall question is, what’s so bad about it?

Forty percent of the food in the USA gets wasted. Not only is that terrible for the economy, but it’s dangerous and can severely hurt the environment. This food ends up in the landfills, rots, smells bad and lets off methane gas. If you don’t know, methane is a lead causes of climate change, because it is a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases are gases that block the heat that comes off of earth. This warms the atmosphere. Methane in some cases can be produced into energy, but still is a very harsh chemical that we want to lessen, in order to help our environment.

So as an average American waste about 225-290 pounds of food each year, we need to do something to help. Doing simple things like, eating everything on your plate can help. I wish I had more statistics for you guys about how much doing these things can help, but I don’t.

Maybe you need more ideas…

Don’t throw away your food if it just expired.

Some people think they will get sick if they eat food that supposed to be sold two days ago. Not the case. Food stays safe a lot longer than that. A lot of those dates you see on cans and bottles are for the stores to know when they need to sell them by or simply a guess towards the expiration date. But make sure to not eat super old food. If it smells bad or looks even worse it might be best to dispose of it. Then next time you have that item, try to use it up before it goes bad.

 Don’t overbuy.

Instead of getting a bag of chips or some fruit while you’re at the store, try and remember what you have at your home. Then use all those foods. This way you will be less likely to waste old food and you will save money.

Leftovers!

Leftovers are probably the easiest thing to do. You can eat your dinner from last night for lunch the next day. Or make it into some new. Example: If you had mashed potatoes for dinner and have some leftover, make it into a shepherds pie for dinner.

Find the right proportions.

Whether you’re cooking for yourself, or a few others, you don’t need to make food for 6 people if there is only 2 of you. Or maybe you’re dishing up food for your plate, don’t go overboard. This will help with your overall waste at the end of the meal.

Composting!

Composting can help take a lot of food scraps and make them into something new and really helpful. Composting can be complicated and time-consuming at times, but once you have everything figured out, it will eventually improve your gardens health and save you money on fertilizer! If you don’t have much of a yard, you can easily get compost bin from a hardware store or use an old garbage bin. This doesn’t take up a lot of space and doesn’t carry much of a smell. Depending on where you live, you can find areas in your city that compost, or even give yours to a friend! Composting can take a while (around 12 months) for it to be rich enough for a good fertilizer that you can put in your garden. But the longtime effect on your garden and the amount of food waste you make will be changed for the better!

Simple plants.

Plant things like parsley, basil or other herbs. This way you can use however much you want and not have to throw away the moldy, gross parts. It can also save a lot of plastic from the containers the herbs come in. You don’t need a whole garden for it, just a small container and good sunlight works great!

No beef is best!

Cows take up more land, use more water, and let off a poop ton of methane from their manure than any other livestock. Overall, cows aren’t good for the environment. The best thing you can do is eat less beef. Try only eating it once a week, and then only on special occasions. You will be more eco-friendly and healthy by eating less beef.

 

 

Works Cited:

“5 Ways Wasting Food Hurts the Environment (and 5 Ways You Can Fix It).” Business Connect World, 12 Oct. 2017, businessconnectworld.com/2017/07/12/5-ways-wasting-food-hurts-the-environment-and-5-ways-you-can-fix-it/.

Harris, Richard. “Methane Causes Vicious Cycle In Global Warming.” NPR, NPR, 26 Jan. 2010, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122638800.

Platt, John. “What Is Methane and Why Should You Care?” MNN – Mother Nature Network, Mother Nature Network, 5 June 2017, http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/energy/stories/what-is-methane-and-why-should-you-care.

Troitino, Christina. “Americans Waste About A Pound Of Food A Day, USDA Study Finds.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 23 Apr. 2018, http://www.forbes.com/sites/christinatroitino/2018/04/23/americans-waste-about-a-pound-of-food-a-day-usda-study-finds/#4ebdb3fc4ec3.

“What Product Is Taking up the Most Space in US Landfills?” What Is the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965? – Wastes – Frequent Questions, waste.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/212349687-What-product-is-taking-up-the-most-space-in-US-landfills-.