5 Reuse Wins for Earth Day (and How to Not Feel So Disempowered When Everything Seems Out of Your Control!)

No doubt about it, we are going through a time that feels – and for the most part, is – out of our control. While we experience this on many levels, one way it hits home for a lot of us is in sourcing what to feed our families, and the way in which we go about doing it.

Bringing our own bags and containers for bulk shopping has gotten harder and harder. You may be ordering more food online and buying more pre-packaged stuff at the grocery store than you did before, and your options now feel limited and constrained.

We’re right there with you.
And to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we’ve got five ideas to help you feel a little less overwhelmed by waste and more empowered navigating what used to be the simpler act of feeding your family.

  1. Take a deep breath, and forgive yourself. We’ve all got a lot to deal with right now, and sometimes (or, often), it’s just too much. Prioritize doing what you need to do to take care of yourself and your loved ones. Reduce, reuse, and repurpose whenever possible, and look forward to a waste-free future we can co-create together.
  2. “BYO” at your car. If your grocer isn’t allowing reusable bags, request your groceries be placed back in the cart “naked” after checkout. Then pack your own bags at your vehicle or bicycle.
  3. Start a buying club. Miss stocking up on staples in your own reusable containers? Gather some neighbors and friends (virtually), and place a bulk order online. You can order herbs and spices, plus staples like grains and nuts, in larger quantities than you may use or be able to afford on your own. These products will still come in packaging, but less than if you bought smaller quantities individually. Plus, you’ll save money. Be sure to devise a pick-up/drop-off method for distribution that respects social distancing.
  4. Grow something. Even if it’s just a little something, like some herbs on your windowsill. You’ll save money and packaging while adding some flair to your home-cooked meals. Plus, there’s a lovely morale boost to seeing some green shoots reaching for the sun.
    Did you know? You can take the bottoms of celery and scallions and place them in a container with a few inches of water in a sunny spot, and they will re-grow fresh shoots.
  5. Buy fresh, freeze it yourself. Not only is frozen food hard to come by right now, it adds up to a lot of single-use plastic bags. Fresh produce is more readily available, and some of it you can still buy loose. See what you can find that is packaged “in its own skin,” like pineapples, apples, and winter squash, or what you can find with less packaging, like banded bunches of asparagus, kale, or carrots. Then, scrub or peel as necessary to clean it, and prep for freezing (think applesauce and squash puree, blanched veggies, or simple frozen fruit pieces.)

For more tips, tricks and resources on sustaining a reuse lifestyle while sheltering in place, visit our dedicated Reuse Resource page. And please sign up for email updates, ask questions, and share your own tips by dropping us a line at info@upstreamsolutions.org.