Where to Start
These days, everywhere we go, we are faced with waste. The grocery store, the corner shop, coffee shops, parties, restaurants, school events - single-use packaging is all around us. Knowing what to do in the face of so much waste - and often with so few options for reusable, refillable, or unpackaged - can be overwhelming.
You did not create this problem. Big corporations produce single-use packaging, wrap it around our food, water, and personal care products, and then invest millions in marketing them to you. They are the ones largely responsible for our worldwide waste crisis. However, there are steps you can take to push back - individually and collectively. To help prevent waste in your community and in your life, consider our ten suggestions below.
Lack of information can be the biggest roadblock to a waste free community.
Asking a business what their waste practices are does not just inform you. It also alerts them that their customers care about their practices.
Ask local businesses to carry "no straw” lids, reusable cups and silverware, and compostable to-go boxes.
look and Ask for naked groceries
Naked groceries are items that have no plastic packaging. Buying unpackaged items goes along way.
Buy your food items in bulk. Don’t forget your own bags or jars to fill up!
Skip the plastic bag for your fresh fruits and vegetables. Buying fresh produce can greatly reduce your waste. Shop for fresh produce at Crescent City Farmer’s Market or the Co-op. Opt for a reusable bag or no bag at all.
Purchase other household items in bulk. Items such as shampoo, soap, and laundry detergent are sold in bulk at many stores. Bonus: a lot of times this way is cheaper!
Don’t forget your ask! Ask grocers to carry the things you need most without packaging.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some businesses in Orleans Parish that sell in bulk:
support good policy
equity, access, waste prevention
be a smart shopper
Shop second hand. Purchase second-hand items, such as clothes, pans, and furniture at your local thrift store, on Craiglist or social media, or at great local stores like ReStore. Save money and reduce waste at the same time.
Borrow. If you only need something once or for a short time, see if your neighbor or family member has one you can borrow. Or use a library - today, there are libraries for so many things, not just books! The Green Project.now offers a tool library.
Buy less. The next time you go to buy something, check in with yourself. Ask, "do I really need this?" If the answer is no, try not buying this time around.
These days, items we purchase come from all over the globe. When businesses commit to selling local items, less oil and less packaging is used to get those items into your household.
Purchasing local also promotes community health, keeps local monies in the community, and creates stronger bonds in our city.
Here are some businesses who have committed to purchasing on a local scale:
take the bus
or ride your bike
rethink your food
While one in eight people go hungry in the United States, forty percent of food here is never eaten. Here are some ideas to help prevent food waste in your home:
Learn to love leftovers.
Cook with food scraps. Try grilling or adding broccoli, mushroom, and carrot stems to a soup or pasta. Combine leftover vegetable scraps to make a delicious veggie broth. Still have lots of food leftovers after eating or using what you could? There is almost always some leftovers. Most people are not going to eat an eggshell or used coffee grinds. No worries! You can always:
Compost. Start a compost at your home or contribute your food scraps to Compost NOW. Get started here: https://www.compost-now.org/
Try to plan ahead. If you can, purchase fresh food on the day you need it. Otherwise, a little planning for meals can go a long way to prevent waste.
Grow your own. Even if you can't keep a whole fresh garden, maybe 1 or 2 potted vegetables or a small pot of herbs by the window means less waste for just for one sprig of herb.
look around the house
shampoo, soap, cleaners, using felt instead Swiffers, etc.
parties - collect mardi gras cups, plates from thrift stores, etc.
do all of “the r’s”
(when all else fails) recycle - [link to info page on recycling]