Posted in HOW TO

HOW TO: Not Use Plastic Utensils

When you think of barbecues and eating out, the last thing you want to think about is saving on plastic.

It’s so easy to just use that plastic McDonald’s fork in its plastic wrap, and to just throw it away when you’re done. But there is an even easier, plastic-free way.

Meet the Realtree Camper Tool. It’s advertised for camping use (hence the name), but I carry one in my purse for when I eat while I am out. It’s so handy, and people are actually really impressed with the novelty of it. It’s really funny to watch people get excited about this thing. I gave a presentation at my college about waste, and everyone was so amused by it. I’m not exaggerating. It was like a celebrity. This is also really handy when I get frozen yogurt or ice cream with friends, instead of using the plastic spoons they give you. I got mine from Boscov’s, but you can order yours online (see hyperlink above).

Posted in HOW TO

HOW TO: Bread? Yes. How to bread.

Those poor plastic bread bags. So misunderstood, so underappreciated. Nobody thinks to try to recycle these guys, and they’re plastic bags. For shame.

When you’re grocery shopping, try to aim for the artisan breads in the bakery. “What? Artisan?” You’re probably asking your computer (you really have to stop asking inanimate objects rhetorical questions), “that sounds expensive!” The loaves may be more expensive than the standard loaf-in-bag you normally buy, but most artisan loaves in the bakery don’t come in plastic bags. Try bringing your own cloth bag or clean pillow case to keep the bread fresh-maybe even reuse a plastic bread bag. Bakeries will also slice loaves of bread if you don’t want to sprinkle your house with bread crumbs while trying to cut the loaves. Making your own bread is also a viable option.

Posted in HOW TO

HOW T-Reeeeusable cups!

They’re so wonderful, right?

You can store hot and cold drinks in all different shapes and sizes of cups, and most are machine washable. Plus, you can use them to even buy drinks you wouldn’t normally think you’d be able to bring your own cup for. Some coffee shops and convenience stores will even give you a discount for bringing your own.

Posted in HOW TO

HOW TO: Stop Using Paper Entirely (Not really. I’m a writer, I can’t say that)

Once you become aware of how much paper gets wasted, your spidey senses will be tingling all over. Sorry about that.

But there are easy ways to reduce your paper waste.

Paper plates: Don’t use them if you can avoid it. When we have barbecues at home, I use a plate and utensils from inside the house.

Napkins: Find an old bandana or cloth you don’t mind rubbing on your face and use that instead. I carry one of those, folded up in the triangle style I used for plastic bags, along with my Realtree tool. You can wash these however much you want to keep it sanitary, and you can also clean up any spills.

Paper towels: Use the hand dryer if you can, or bring your own cloth towel in your purse or bag. You can also just wipe it on your pants.

Toilet paper: I know, I know, but hear me out. Not using toilet paper is doable, and in a very sanitary and healthy way. I’ll let this link explain it better than I can. Seriously, give it a chance. Stop making that face.

Posted in HOW TO

HOW TO: Kindle Your Burning Hatred for Sytrofoam.

Grrrr. I hate Styrofoam. It’s so hard to recycle, and people throw it away all the time without a second thought. It’s best to avoid these entirely.

When you’re at a restaurant and you ask for something to carry your leftovers in, try asking for foil instead, or some other container. You’ll get a lot of weird looks and responses, but eventually people will get used to it. Bringing your own container is a viable option if you know ahead of time that you are going out to eat, but don’t feel too stressed to always carry a container with you. Perhaps you can carry a manageably-sized jar with you or keep one in your car, maybe one left over from lunch (it makes a really good weapon, too, if anyone tries to attack you). You can also try to avoid having left overs entirely, but I’m not going to tell you to stuff your face with food even though you aren’t hungry.

When you are at the supermarket, a lot of products come on Styrofoam trays wrapped in plastic. Try getting all your products from the deli instead, and bring some jars to hold it all. Bea Johnson, creator of the Zero Waste Home blog,says that whenever anybody asks her about the jars she brings to the supermarket, she always just says she doesn’t have a trashcan at home. Totally check out her blog, by the way. She has tips to save on waste in every area of the home, along with lots of other delightful things. She also has a crazy awesome accent (she also has a book).

Posted in HOW TO

HOW TO: Overcome Your Fear of Food

Being vegan means that you have to alter some of your favorite American dishes, and that’s sad, but think about all of the new possibilities! You can try all new cuisines and take out, like Thai and Asian food, that have a lot of plant-centered dishes. Veggie stir fry, anyone?