As a country, we’ve learned the importance of being eco-friendly. Most of us recycle, some compost, and others seek out items packaged in biodegradable materials. We take the time to do this in order to help sustain and protect our environment. But there are so many other practices we can incorporate into our everyday lives to ensure that we’re doing our best for our community and for the world overall. In Bend, the Rethink Waste Project is dedicated to making sure we know how to do just that and more. “Rethink Waste is an Environmental Center program where we believe that local change can have an impact on the whole earth,” says Ani Kasch, the project’s program manager. “Each individual's actions are visible to those around them and that can be particularly impactful in a tourist destination town like Bend. Waste management looks SO different across the world, and it’s up to each community to get it right, but we can lead by example.” There are many ways we can reduce our carbon footprint and be more mindful of cutting down on waste in our households.
FIVE WAYS TO REDUCE WASTE:
1. Save Money. The average household ends up throwing away 1/4 of the food they bring home. That's 25% of your food budget in the trash. The easiest way to waste less food is to buy only what you know you will eat and make sure to eat what you buy.
2. No Waste and No Waist. Not wasting food doesn’t mean you have to overeat and increase the size of your waist. Instead, use a smaller plate, design a “leftovers night” into your menu plan, and make good use of your freezer for what you don’t finish.
3. Shop Local! Shopping locally is a great way to help reduce waste AND help our community’s economy. By purchasing locally grown food and supporting local shops, we can reduce the amount of unnecessary packaging, not to mention the reduction in fuel from transportation. (Did you know the average produce travels 1,500 miles before it gets to the store?)
4. Gift Wisely. Think outside of the box when it comes to gifting: give a gift of experience like a rock gym punch card or a membership to the High Desert Museum; give a dozen homemade cookies; wrap your gift in an old ski map instead of using new, virgin paper that will just get tossed.
5. Choose to Reuse. Instead of using single-use disposables, try reusable dish rags; buy a reusable coffee cup and water bottle; bring a reusable container to the restaurant for your leftovers. When you get takeout, say no to single-use silverware and condiment packets if you don’t need them.
For more eco-friendly ideas and tips, or to learn more about the Rethink Waste Project, go to EnviroCenter.org/Programs/Rethink-Waste-Project.