This Earth Day, Go Near-O!

Earth Day is Wednesday. It’s the perfect time to take a step in the Near-O Waste direction. The words “Zero Waste” can be overwhelming, I know. That’s why I call it “Near-O”! If you’re interested in reducing waste, start small, and see where it takes you.

Below are 5 simple ideas to get you started. If you’re inspired to give one a try, leave a comment on my blog or Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win my “Near-O Waste starter kit” which includes a Quattro Stagioni jar, a handmade, organic cotton sandwich/burrito wrap, and a reusable produce bag.

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If you’re a seasoned zero-waster and already do these things (awesome job! and…), perhaps you could share an additional idea. You’ll still be entered to win 🙂

1. BRING YOUR OWN MUG. If you go out for coffee or tea, bring a travel mug (or even a regular mug) with you. We have Ball jars with Cuppow lids (and now mine has a handle too). Most shops give a discount for bringing your own, so you’ll be saving a cup, a lid, and a few cents!

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2. PACK A CLOTH NAPKIN. I always have a small bar napkin in my purse. I use it for meals and hand drying whenever I’m on the go. Paper towels and paper napkins? No, thank you! If you want to go the extra mile on this one at home, replace paper towels with cloth napkins and cleaning rags permanently. I just started using my “special napkins” every day at the kitchen table and cut up my oldest bath towel for cleaning.

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3. REPURPOSE A JAR FOR BULK. Wash a pickle, jam, or tomato sauce jar and bring it to the store for bulk items. Ask a cashier to give you the tare (weight) before you fill it up. Write it on a piece of masking tape along with the PLU code and pop it on the lid. You could also bring an empty spice jar and refill it with that same spice in bulk. I used an old jam jar for bulk tea.

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4. BRING GLASS FOR MEAT. If meat is on your shopping list, bring a lidded glass container to the meat counter. I like to say, “Could you put it in this please? No paper, no plastic.” I’m not sure how many grocery stores give a discount for this, but if you live in Santa Cruz, Staff of Life does!

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5. PREPARE A PLASTIC-FREE LUNCH. If you’re packing a lunch for yourself or your children, skip the plastic bags and plastic wrap. If you don’t have reusable containers, this might not be a realistic option, which leads me to my next segment…

If you’re willing to SPEND a little CASH, here are my favorite Near-O Waste items:

1. REUSABLE MEAL CONTAINERS. This was my biggest investment, but they are necessary for Near-O Waste, especially for school lunches. My favorites are here and here.

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2. REUSABLE PRODUCE BAGS. Reusable grocery bags are pretty standard these days, at least where I live, but reusable produce bags haven’t really caught on… and they’re awesome! I bought my supply here, but Staff of Life has a variety of (unpackaged) bags that I wish I would’ve noticed sooner!

3. JARS. Quattro Stagioni are my favorite because the lid is a single piece and they’re made in Italy. If you’re in the Santa Cruz area, Mountain Feed carries them, and they’re cheap! Fill them with bulk items at the store. And fill them with homemade lemonade for a picnic!

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4. WATER DISPENSER. I’m assuming you have a reusable water bottle, and with a 2-gallon water dispenser in your trunk you’ll always have a place to refill it if you run out.

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5. TO-GO WARE. This little set of bamboo silverware and chopsticks has grown on me. I bypassed it initially because the packaging didn’t say where it was made (ahem, China), but I couldn’t find any better options. When we spontaneously decided to go to sushi I gave them a chance, and I’m so glad I did. The utensils are beautiful, smooth, and light weight… much lighter than the real silverware I’d been toting around.

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I hope you’ll consider making a change this Earth Day. It might seem insignificant to bring your own chopsticks and cloth napkin to sushi, but what if everyone did it?

Remember to comment for a chance to win my starter kit! I will put your name in a hat and draw one winner on Thursday morning.

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7 thoughts on “This Earth Day, Go Near-O!

  1. Natalie April 20, 2015 / 1:20 pm

    Purchasing meat using glass container is definitely my next aim, as I’ve been doing the others on the list for a while! My hubby and I have also been refilling the remainder of water or tea from restaurant outings into our stainless steel water bottles that we carry with us everywhere, to not waste this precious resource. We felt a bit conscious at first, but quickly realized that we would rather feel awkward than condoning the wasteful practice of letting perfectly good water go to waste. We used to pour it quickly to avoid looks from other restaurant patrons, but have learned to be proud of our action and now, we do it with pleasure and actually want people to see and perhaps be inspired!

    I’m also planning on taking a large stainless steel pot to my local bakery for their delicious 9″ tiramisu for Mother’s day. Can’t wait for the surprised look on the bakery staff’s face! 🙂

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    • Near-O Waste April 20, 2015 / 5:19 pm

      Great job on the water, Natalie (and everything else)! Love the tiramisu idea. 🙂

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  2. Glen Stribling April 20, 2015 / 2:08 pm

    Like what your doing here. Especially the produce bag idea. Plastic is hard on wildlife. We reuse the plastic produce bags for dog waste pickup but not using them is better.

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    • Near-O Waste April 20, 2015 / 5:20 pm

      Well, at least you don’t also have to buy/use dog bags! Hope you get to enjoy some reusable produce bags soon 🙂

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  3. Jessica April 20, 2015 / 8:10 pm

    I am loving your blog! So miss living in SC where all this stuff is not only accessible but totally acceptable. We just got a whole food bulk place here and I’m so stoked! I have designated glass jars for everything in my pantry and herb cabinet. They all have tare weights on them and when they run out I put them into a cloth shopping bag and when I have a few that bag is my ‘list’ for the shops. I’m not sure any butcher here would give us meat in our own glass container, but gonna try! Also, I saw some awesome bags for buying in bulk at a market, but didn’t have cash at the time :(, so going to try and find those for produce and when I don’t have a jar for something yet. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

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    • Near-O Waste April 20, 2015 / 11:07 pm

      Jess! Thanks for the comment! I love that about the jars too, so easy to know what you need to fill up on. Good luck with the meat and enjoy the new shop 🙂

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  4. Jennifer M. April 22, 2015 / 10:10 am

    Great ideas! I carry my own cloth napkin, stainless steel straw and spork everywhere. Happy Earth Day!

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