Reduce food waste with your new best friend Meal Prep Mate

March 15, 2019 by  
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In a world filled with convenient fast-food wherever you go and a focus on instant gratification, it can be a serious challenge to eat healthily and keep your food waste to a minimum. For many of us, our busy lives cause us to make daily food decisions that fill our diets with highly processed foods, which are often wrapped in single-use packaging. But there is a way you can not only eat  healthily , but you can reduce food waste while saving time and money, too. The answer is meal prep. In an effort to reduce food waste, the Save the Food campaign has launched Meal Prep Mate, a free online program that helps with meal prep no matter if you are brand new to prepping meals or a seasoned pro. Save the Food Back in 2016, a public service project called Save the Food began after the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) partnered with the Ad Council. The goal was to reduce food waste with a print ad campaign featuring close-ups of different foods that have the label “Best if used.” The ads also included food waste statistics. Now, the campaign is going further with Meal Prep Mate , a free, online resource that helps with every step of the meal prep process: meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking and portioning. The new Meal Prep Mate website “walks you through step-by-step guides of ‘what to know,’ ‘what to have’ and ‘what to buy,’ and it allows you to choose pre-designed plans or build your own plan.” No matter which route you take, you can plan your meals for up to five days each week and up to three meals each day. Meal Prep Mate The new website offers four different pre-designed plans that include a variety of dishes from meat-based to vegan  and everything in between. Once you choose how many days you want to plan for and how many meals and snacks you want to prep for each day, the website will give you recipes, a shopping list and nutritional information. There is a bit more work involved if you want to build a customized meal prep plan. You start the same way that you would with the pre-designed plans by choosing how many days and meals you are prepping for. Then, you must select proteins, produce and grains for each meal before getting your shopping list and ingredient quantities. To further reduce food waste, the website also includes ingredient storage tips, ideas for scraps and leftovers  and recipe suggestions. Portion control Meal prepping can definitely help with eating healthy meals each week, but one of the biggest challenges is portion size. Meal Prep Mate aims to help with that by suggesting portion sizes, so you don’t buy too much or too little at the grocery store and prep too much or too little food. Because everyone’s nutritional needs are different, Meal Prep Mate’s suggestions could be too large or too small. The first time you use the tool, be aware of how the portions work for you, and make any necessary adjustments. Getting started with meal prepping Have you seen those Instagram food prepping accounts that look like they prep 21 meals plus snacks every Sunday? They make it look so beautiful in the pictures and seem so easy in the captions. But these posts really just give many people visions of a time-consuming grocery shopping excursion on Sunday morning and hours of hard work over a hot stove. Food prepping shouldn’t be intimidating; you just have to start small. There is no need to prep every single meal and snack for an entire week. Instead, try just two or three days each week and aim for one or two meals each day. Katie Lolas, the expert food prep Instagrammer behind the popular Lady Lolas page, said that when you get started with prepping , think about what gives you the most trouble. “Pick your problem areas,” Lolas said. “For example, if you don’t have an issue cooking dinner, but always seem to make unhealthy snack choices, or you skip breakfast , then spend your time prepping options that will make those times easier for you.” If unhealthy snacks are the biggest problem in your diet , then focus on prepping those. If you always find yourself in a drive-thru after work or ordering take-out every night, then consider prepping a few dinners on Sunday. Yes, meal prep is important for healthy eating and reducing food waste, but it should make your life easier, not harder, said Lolas. The environmental impact of food waste Every year in the United States, Americans waste 40 percent of their food, according to NRDC . That is equal to 400 pounds per person. To make things worse, many Americans toss everything in the garbage, which means the food winds up in a landfill and releases methane. The great thing about food prepping is that it not only helps you live a healthier lifestyle while saving you some cash, but it also is a big help to the environment by greatly reducing food waste. + Meal Prep Mate + Save the Food Via NRDC Images via Shutterstock

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Reduce food waste with your new best friend Meal Prep Mate

Earth911 Podcast, Dec. 3, 2018: Let’s Go Sustainable Holiday Shopping!

December 3, 2018 by  
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Earth911 Podcast, Dec. 3, 2018: Let’s Go Sustainable Holiday Shopping!

Amazon’s Christmas trees are hurting the environment

November 29, 2018 by  
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Earlier this year, Amazon announced it would be selling and shipping fresh, full-size Christmas trees this holiday season. But there is an environmental issue with the e-behemoth’s new plan — the shipping process will leave a giant carbon footprint. Back in September, Amazon said that it would be shipping 7-foot-tall live Douglas firs, Fraser Firs and Norfolk Island pines to customers’ front doorsteps, a process that is extremely eco-unfriendly. Char Miller, professor of environmental analysis and history at Pomona College said that Amazon’s new Christmas-Tree-in-a-Box program will bring some unwelcome surprises because of the fossil fuels required to get the tree from farm to front door. The long-haul trucking will result in a major carbon footprint, plus there could be more waste in landfills because of the box and packing materials required for a tree of this size. On the positive side, Amazon will most likely get the trees quickly from farm to home, and that means they could last longer. The company said that it will ship the trees within 10 days of cutting them down — maybe even sooner — and the trees will have no trouble surviving the trip. Amazon started selling the trees this month, with some qualifying for Prime free shipping, making the deal more enticing. Customers can also pre-order their trees and select their desired delivery dates. According to the Associated Press , last year the company only sold trees shorter than 3 feet, but it did have some other merchants selling bigger ones on its platform. Amazon decided to jump into the market itself, because the full-size trees are popular with customers. The Amazon holiday preview book revealed that the 7-foot Fraser fir option will come from North Carolina and costs $115. It also offers $50 wreaths and $25 red-leafed plants with a decorative candy cane. While the deals might be intriguing, don’t forget the impact of shipping and packaging this program has on the planet — plus, what better way to celebrate the season of giving than by supporting your local pick-your-own farms? Via AP and TreeHugger Images via Annie Spratt and Kieran White

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Amazon’s Christmas trees are hurting the environment

Introducing ReTuna, the world’s first secondhand shopping mall

November 29, 2018 by  
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The reusing and upcycling trend continues to gain steam in countries all over the globe. Now, there is a shopping mall that is full of secondhand stores only. ReTuna, a two-story complex in Eskilstuna, Sweden, is located about 70 miles west of Stockholm and offers a wide selection of shops with upcycled, reused and recycled goods. Sales at the mall have  quadrupled in its first three years . ReTuna has  been around since 2015 , and it was designed to tackle Sweden’s problem of rising consumption. It is the first mall in the world that focuses on sustainable shopping, and the company wants to make it easier for people to find valuable, pre-loved goods by putting secondhand stores under one roof instead of consumers having to search for thrift stores throughout the city. “I think it’s fun to find something that people have used, and we can use further,” said Cato Limas, a ReTuna customer. “If you look at the things they’re selling here, they’re almost new. So actually, why bother buying new stuff?” During their first visit to the secondhand mall, Limas and his girlfriend spent about $7 and came away with a bag full of toys and keepsakes for their newborn baby. Nearly every item on sale is from public donations, which are dropped off at the mall’s drive-thru depot. The mall’s 11 stores include a vintage furniture outlet, a bookstore and a bicycle shop. Stores that sign a contract with ReTuna must also commit to zero-waste . More than 50 people work at the complex, and it has played a role in generating employment for immigrants in the area. Many of the stores take part in a Swedish national program that subsidizes salaries of new residents for up to two years. ReTuna also offers adult education courses that focus on design-based recycling . Sweden has been a longtime leader when it comes to sustainability. More than 99 percent of the country’s ordinary household waste is recycled, and separating trash for recycling has been a common practice for Swedes since the 1980s. The country has also passed legislation to reach its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. + ReTuna Via Huffington Post Images via ReTuna

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Introducing ReTuna, the world’s first secondhand shopping mall

6 tips to reduce your foodprint while dining out

November 1, 2018 by  
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When you eat at home, it is relatively easy to make choices that will lower your ‘foodprint,’ because you are in charge of the shopping, preparation and disposal of all the food. But when you eat out at a restaurant or grab takeout, it is much more difficult to eat sustainably. To make it a little bit easier, we have put together six tips to help you eat green while dining out or grabbing something to go. Ask questions Ask your server about the restaurant’s sources. What farms do they buy from? Is this dish in season? If the server doesn’t know, they can ask the manager or the chef. If the restaurant has a philosophy of incorporating seasonality into the menu, the workers will be more than happy to share the food’s origins, and the menu items will change with the seasons. Do your research to know what is in season where you live and what local restaurants embrace seasonality. When you are looking over a restaurant menu, also keep in mind your location and what is in season locally. If you are in a landlocked area, ordering ocean fish isn’t smart, because it certainly isn’t local. If you live in Missouri and it’s the middle of winter, tomatoes are not in season. Get a box American restaurants are famous for the extra-large portions of food that they pile up on plates, making it nearly impossible to finish the meal in one sitting. According to Sustainable America , the average restaurant meal is eight times larger than the standard USDA and FDA serving sizes, and 55 percent of leftover restaurant food doesn’t get taken home. Related: 5 simple ways to reduce your food waste right now Big meals mean even bigger waste. Instead of leaving behind food and letting it go straight to the trash, ask for a box. It will help cut down the food waste, and it gives you an instant lunch for the next day. If you don’t want to take leftovers home, consider splitting a large appetizer or entree with your dining partner. Choose farm-to-table Farm-to-table is one of the most popular buzzwords of the moment, and many restaurants have been more than willing to capitalize on the trend. More chefs have started to incorporate local and seasonal items on their menus, and some restaurants have even started growing their own food. Eating at a restaurant that locally sources its ingredients results in a major downsize of your foodprint, because there is no need to ship the ingredients across the country. Just make sure that the restaurant is truly farm-to-table — that’s when asking the right questions becomes important. Just say no If you don’t want that basket of rolls or chips they automatically put on the table, just say no. Tell your server not to bring it, so it isn’t wasted. The same thing goes for items on your entree. If you don’t want onions on your burger, tell your server to leave them off it. If you don’t want that side of coleslaw, ask for a substitution or tell them to skip it completely. Watch buffet portions To reduce your food waste at a buffet, use smaller plates. People who use large plates waste 135 percent more food than those who use smaller plates. Watch your portions when enjoying a buffet, or avoid going to one. Decline takeout bags, utensils and condiments When you order takeout, reduce your carbon footprint by bringing your own coffee or water cups, saying no to straws and plastic bags and declining plastic utensils and napkins. You can bring your own reusable container and see if the restaurant is willing to use it. Say no to extra condiments and seasonings. All of these to-go items might seem convenient, but they often end up in the trash. Instead, just grab the food, and use the cutlery, condiments and seasonings that you have at home. If you really do need some of the extras like sauces or condiments, only take what you need. When you dine out, you can eat sustainably by keeping these tips in mind. Just remember to choose the right restaurants, ask questions and minimize your food packaging and waste , and you will be doing your part to reduce your foodprint. Via Foodprint and  Sustainable America Images via Steffen Kastner , Thabang Mokoena  and Shutterstock

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6 tips to reduce your foodprint while dining out

A treehouse made from sustainable wood hides a luxurious interior

November 1, 2018 by  
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The sustainable builders at ArtisTree are known for creating some seriously beautiful and green structures. The company has just unveiled a charming treehouse located in a remote eco-retreat in Texas. Perched 25 feet in the air between two cypress trees, the Yoki Treehouse is an exceptional example of the company’s artistry and deep respect for nature. Located in central Texas, the Yoki Treehouse is Austin’s first treehouse resort at Cypress Valley. Designed to be a luxury retreat, the  treehouse sits 25 feet above a creek, which served as the inspiration for the design and name (Yoki is the Hopi Native American word for rain). According to Will Beilharz, founder of ArtisTree, “Water is life — one of our most precious resources, and ArtisTree treehouses are designed to let people experience nature’s resources more intimately.” Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home — and you can stay overnight Built with sustainable woods such as elm, cypress and spruce, the treehouse holds court high up within the tree canopy.  The retreat is comprised of a 500-square-foot suspended treehouse and a separate bathhouse, which sits on solid ground. The two buildings are connected by a 60-foot-long suspension bridge with various platforms to provide plenty of open spaces for enjoying the surrounding nature. In the main house, this strong emphasis on nature is apparent at every angle. The entrance is located on the roof, which doubles as an observation platform perfect for enjoying the lush green forest views and the babbling brook. There is also an open-air porch where the branches grow through the floor, further connecting the structure into its environment. Inside, the walls of the treehouse are clad in a warm birch wood, creating a cabin-like aesthetic. Again, an abundance of windows, including an all-glass front wall, allows guests to reconnect with nature. The interior design and furnishings were inspired by Japanese minimalism, while touches of Turkish decor add a sense of whimsy. The separate bathhouse was built with solitude in mind. It features a spa-like atmosphere, complete with a large Onsen-style soaking bathtub. Ample floor-to-ceiling windows offer guests a serene spot to enjoy a bit of bird watching or stargazing. + ArtisTree Via Dezeen Photography by Smiling Forest via ArtisTree

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A treehouse made from sustainable wood hides a luxurious interior

Survey Results: Read Labels for Ingredients and Recyclability Info?

September 19, 2018 by  
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Thanks to those of you who responded to last week’s … The post Survey Results: Read Labels for Ingredients and Recyclability Info? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Survey Results: Read Labels for Ingredients and Recyclability Info?

Earth911.com Quiz #15: Shopping for Sustainability

June 14, 2018 by  
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Making smart sustainable choices requires practice. Earth911’s weekly sustainability quiz … The post Earth911.com Quiz #15: Shopping for Sustainability appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911.com Quiz #15: Shopping for Sustainability

Give goods, find goods, and do good on National Thrift Store Day

July 31, 2017 by  
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If you’re the type of shopper that lives for finding hidden gems in vintage stores, mark August 17th on your calendar. That’s when National Thrift Store Day returns to encourage everyone to support their local thrift stores and score secondhand goods. New York City is taking this initiative a step further by bringing awareness to the day’s charitable component and reminding us why it would do a world of good if we went the thrift store route instead of buying brand new. Through its donateNYC program, the New York City Department of Sanitation helps New Yorkers “give goods, find goods, and do good” for their community – and they’re making it really easy for everyone to do their part. Read on for 10 great things you can find on Thrift Store Day – and where you can go to pick them up. Thrift stores have long been a place where anyone can hand off items that are no longer wanted or needed instead of throwing them in the trash. In this way, others who can’t afford these items at their original prices have a chance to own them at a lower price. Necessities like clothes, housewares, books, electronics and furniture are just some of the goods people can buy. Oftentimes, these thrift stores are run by charitable organizations that use the money collected from purchases to fund initiatives that further help those in need. Goodwill , for example, backs “programs that provide education, skills training and career development that help people earn jobs in communities nationwide.” Not to mention, this practice of donating, upcyling, and buying secondhand goods reduces the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills, the energy and resources consumed by waste management, and the amount of money flying out of our pockets. It’s a win all around. If you’re not sure where to drop off your unneeded goods, donateNYC eliminates that hassle for you. A directory of participating shops and a map of your nearest drop-off locations can be found online, as well as through the free donateNYC app for Apple and Android . The program is part of NYC’s 0X30 initiative , which aims to send zero waste to landfills by 2030, and it’s an excellent resource on National Thrift Store Day and every other day of the year. Below are some of the cool items you can find in thrift stores around NYC, courtesy of donateNYC. Vintage Clothing St. Luke’s Thrift Shop Council Thrift Shop Vintage Thrift Housing Works Goodwill The Salvation Army Handbags Housing Works Purses for Nurses Goodwill Vintage Thrift Bicycles Recycle-A-Bicycle Building Materials/Appliances Big Reuse Rebuilding Together NYC Salvage Store Habitat for Humanity NYC ReStore Electronics Lower East Side Ecology Center Jewelry CancerCare Arthritis Foundation Vintage Thrift Housing Works Hour Children Goodwill Textile Scraps FABSCRAP Furniture Refoundry Housing Works Habitat for Humanity NYC ReStore Big Reuse The Salvation Army Vintage Thrift Hour Children Housewares/furnishings St. Luke’s Thrift Shop Council Thrift Shop Vintage Thrift Housing Works Goodwill The Salvation Army Hour Children Habitat for Humanity NYC ReStore Books/Records Big Reuse Goodwill The Salvation Army Hour Children Housing Works Council Thrift Shop St. Luke’s Thrift Shop Cancer Care + donateNYC Images via Depositphotos and donateNYC

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8 thoughtful Mother’s Day gift ideas for the eco mama in your life

May 9, 2017 by  
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Finding the perfect gift for the eco-conscious Mama in your life is a little more labor intensive than just running out for generic cards or super-market flowers at the last second. You want to find something that shows you really care – about her and about the planet. We’ve made your life a bit easier this year with a roundup of eight thoughtful gift ideas we think will appeal to the earth-loving mama in your world. 1. Ladies-only outdoor adventure Adventurous outdoor Moms will love REI/Outessa’s three-day retreats , where they can dabble in rock climbing, yoga , paddle boarding, and more while being treated to chef-prepared and locally-sourced meals. After a weekend spent with other nature -loving women, Mom will come back ready to tackle parenting and life with feeling connected and rejuvenated. 2. Jewelry Andrea Bonelli ’s gorgeous handmade jewelry (like the above pink sapphire necklace ) incorporates recycled and ethically mined stones and metals. Bonelli is also a member of Ethical Metalsmiths and gives back through the Toolbox Initiative, which provides jewelers in West Africa with tools and supplies to encourage their ability to work autonomously. If the sky’s the limit for the Earth Mama in your life, gift her with a premium piece from Monique Pean , beloved among the eco-celeb set for her sustainable and unique pieces, who counts former First Lady Michelle Obama as a fan. 3. Books Whether purchasing a physical book or the e-version, you have plenty of choices that will expand Mom’s reading horizons. A few of our hot picks: Phenomenal , which has readers join a new mother as she traipses across the planet in search of migrating butterflies in Mexico and lightening storms in Venezuela and  Lab Girl , the bestselling and intriguing memoir of geo-biologist Hope Jahren. Others may enjoy How To Read Water , which provides insightful instructions for forecasting the weather by looking at waves or using puddles to figure out directions. If the Mom you’re gifting these books to has little ones, earn bonus points by also gifting her some time and a quiet space to actually read them. RELATED: 11 Eco-tastic gifts for Mother’s Day 4. Ceramic breakfast bowl These hand-painted and hand-thrown Moroccan bowls  from Raven & Lily are wonderful mood boosters for Mom when she’s throwing down a bowl of cereal amidst the before school morning chaos or snacking on some dried fruits and nuts for a midday break. It’s no coincidence they are also perfectly sized for use as a chai or latte “mug”; the bowls also come in a mini size  and are pretty enough to corral rings, change, keys, or perhaps chocolate chips. 10 percent of sales goes towards an after-school program in Morocco that provides academic support, life skills mentoring, and leadership coaching. 5. S’Well water bottle We probably all have a reusable water bottle (or five) at home, but somehow they manage to migrate to kids’ backpacks or end up on spouse’s desks. S’Well ’s sleek BPA-free stainless steel water bottles are triple wall insulated to keep beverages cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. The limited edition Terra bottle is decorated with lush flora and fauna; we’re also loving the Elements collection, inspired by natural beauties such as pearls and marbled stone. A portion of S’Well’s sales go towards supporting clean and safe water supplies in vulnerable communities. Staying hydrated, whether Mom’s adventures take her on a hike or to the carpool line, never looked so pretty. 6. Flowers No sad, tired, on-their-last-stem arrangements here: Bouqs partners with local artisan florists around the country and sustainable farmers around the world to provide vibrant custom bouquets. In certain areas of the country, a “bouq” can even be delivered on demand within hours, a lifesaver for spouses and children who perhaps procrastinated a bit too long. All the vendors in this “farm to table” arrangement approach practice sustainable farming that minimizes waste. Want to give Mom the gift that keeps on giving? Consider gifting a living plant that can provide beauty (and clean air) to her space for years. Any potted plant will do nicely, but if you’re looking for an easy, low-maintenance gift idea, moth orchids (phalaenopsis) , in particular, are beautiful, usually easy to find at your local market, extremely low-maintenance (you barely need to water them), and great indoor-air cleaners . RELATED: 7 indoor plants that purify the air naturally 7. Edible goodies INNA Jam ’s jams , shrubs, pickles, and salts are next-level delicious. With a focus on organically grown produce from a 150-mile radius of the company’s California kitchen and a strict seasonal sensibility, Moms and anyone who gives these treats a try will fall in love with the flavorful, jewel-toned, single-origin jams as well as the game-changing shrubs (basically a fruit/vinegar/sugar syrup). Other ideas? Try hand-crafted, non-GMO pickles in flavors including Maple Bourbon Whiskey Sour from Brooklyn Brine  or a 111-year-old dehydrated sourdough starter . 8. Art Adjusting to life with kids often means mamas have to modify their travel and adventure expectations. If she can’t lay her eyes on a far-flung island or peak in real life for the time being, playful and cheerful wall art that brings to mind her love of nature may be a temporary salve. Printed on FSC-certified or recycled paper,  options from Graphic Anthology  include abstract geometric trees or mountains , Scandinavian design-inspired fish , and a sweet reminder to all to Go Outside and Play  and would make also great additions to a nursery, kitchen, or family room. You can even pick up a gorgeous Mother’s Day card while you are browsing the site. Lead image © REI/Outessa

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