Don’t Be Useless. Use Less.

In my own household, I can be considered a stickler for frivolous waste. My family finds it rather annoying that I refuse to throw food away if it is still good (I’ll eat leftovers for days straight if I have to). I will squeeze the very last drop of toothpaste before I consider tossing it. I have a battery tester that will tell me how much juice is left. Yea, I’m “that guy”.

Food waste is one of my biggest pet peeves and now there are some restaurants taking cue as well. In the United States, food waste and packaging account for nearly half of the material sent to landfills. Furthermore, food waste accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. To help this environmental concern, zero-waste restaurants and food businesses are on the rise and we can all learn something from them.   

One example is Rhodora, a restaurant and wine bar located in Brooklyn, NY. Some of the unique aspects of this restaurant is that it does not have a single trash can. This is simply because they do not generate anything to throw away. They also don’t allow any type of single-use plastic. A shredder is used to turn cardboard wine boxes into compost material. Corks are donated to an organization that uses them to make sustainable shoes.

If you’re local to the Seattle area, there is the Seven Coffee Roasters Market & Café; Seattle’s first zero-waste café. Nothing in Seven Coffee Roasters, from the compostable cups to the recyclable milk jugs, will end up in a landfill. It’s only things like chip bags and cookie wrappers that go in the trash. In fact, the café was able to downsize their waste from a 96-gallon bin being collected every two weeks to just a 32-gallon bin collected monthly.

What are some concepts we can learn from these restaurants? Here are a few ideas:

  • Compost, compost, compost! This may be the single most important way to combat waste in the kitchen. So much of what we use when cooking – from ingredient leftovers to the packaging our products come in – can be composted. It takes a little extra time and prep to figure out what can or cannot be composted, but once you get the hang of it, you can make a huge difference.
  • Buy reusables and recyclables as much as possible. So much of the waste we create from home comes from the way food and other kitchen products are packaged. When shopping, try to look for packaging that can be easily recycled.
  • Make a meal plan. Being an efficient shopper can be key to sustainability at home. By making a meal plan, every ingredient has a purpose, and you can then consider leftovers into the meal plan. If you can buy groceries for the week and the fridge be nearly empty on that last night, you’re doing your part to combat waste.
  • Eat leftovers! Personally, I love leftovers. Then there are those that think leftovers are gross and/or boring. The thing to consider is that you don’t necessarily have to eat the same thing two or three days in a row. If you grilled steaks over the weekend and you have some leftover, try incorporating it into steak burritos one night. Leftover vegetables could be used for pasta toppings for lunch the next day. Even before you toss that squeezed out lemon, consider making your own lemon oil or throw it in a pot of boiling water for homemade aromatherapy.

Here at the Stump Farm, where White Raven Financial is located, nothing that is pulled from the garden goes to waste. If it’s not eaten, it is thrown into compost, and then reused in the garden for more plants. The circle of life at its finest.

Thanks for reading!

Austin Hunt

Meet the Author:
Austin Hunt

Austin Hunt is the lead founder & SEO consultant at Mumarkt Co. as well as the "digital face" of White Raven Financial. He is also an avid advocate for human connection as well as being a steward of the land. Austin enjoys writing for his blog, dancing west coast swing, and, as always, spending way too much money on a good cup of coffee.