Working Toward Zero Waste

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I had a nice exchange on Facebook the other day with a friend of a friend about how to reduce the amount of trash we generate. It was in response to an NPR story in which we heard that the average American generates seven pounds of trash PER DAY. That’s such a shocking number, it almost doesn’t seem possible.

I commented on the FB post about my recent efforts to get a little bit closer to Zero Waste at home, and thought I’d share our current strategies here as well, for anyone who’s interested.

1) Buy secondhand. (No packaging!) Clothes, bags, linens… I buy all of these secondhand. (Well, except for undies, bras, socks and swimsuits.)

2) Don’t use disposables. No plastic or paper plates, cups, straws, take-out containers, etc. I bring the following with me when I leave the house (yeah, I carry a big bag):

–cotton napkins and/or bandana

–stainless steel water bottle *or*

–stainless steel coffee mug

–stainless steel fork and spoon

If I’m going out to eat and I think I’ll have leftovers, I try to remember to bring a stainless steel tiffin or an older piece of Tupperware (I don’t buy new plastic, but still use some older plastic storage containers). If I forget to bring a container for leftovers, sometimes I’ll ask for my leftovers to be wrapped in aluminum foil or a paper container, as these can be recycled or composted. I no longer take any plastic disposables at all.

3) Don’t bring home plastic bags with your groceries. Not only do I bring my canvas bags for carrying my groceries, but I use small canvas draw-string and mesh bags for all of my produce, bulk grains/beans, nuts, dried fruit, etc. I have even started buying the following in bulk: sugar, flour, salt, nutritional yeast, oil, maple syrup, peanut butter, and dish soap. I’ve tried to eliminate as much plastic from my grocery shopping as possible — but it hasn’t been easy. There are a lot of things I haven’t been able to find in bulk yet — like pasta, olive oil, and pretzels.

It’s an ongoing journey, but it’s fun and I feel good about the changes I’ve been able to implement with just a little foresight and planning.

Resources:

Zero Waste Home

My Plastic Free Life

5GYRES (founded by our friend Anna and her husband Marcus)

Zero Waste Alliance

No Impact Project

Photo Credit: X

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Vegan Discoveries at the Farmers Market

The Hollywood farmers market treated me to two new vegan delights today! The first is NoMoo Non-Dairy Wise Cream. All vegan and soy free, some are even processed sugar-free (sweetened with dates and maple syrup). We taste-tested peanut butter chocolate fudge (OMG), a date-sweetened vanilla, and a date-sweetened banana. All were super yums.

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The second treat of the day was The Ridiculous Baking Co. Ridiculous is correct, as we indulged in a breakfast pocket with tofu, almond cheddar cheeze, and some kind of yummy, savory “facon” crumble, and bought a chocolate croissant to take home with us. Low-cal? No. Delicious? Yes.

photo 2We bought fruit and veggies too, I promise.

Banana Pancakes

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Sundays are usually big breakfast days around our household. I get up early, make pancakes or waffles, scramble or biscuits and gravy, and have a leisurely start to the day. My kitchen gets the early morning light from the east, and it just feels so good to get up and make first thing in the morning. Later on we walk to the farmers market and get fruit and veggies for the week. Sundays are pretty much my favorite days.

This morning I made whole wheat banana pancakes.

  • 1 1/4 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sunflower oil (or any neutral oil; coconut is amazing)
  • 1 1/2 c. almond milk (adjust at the end to get the right batter consistency)
  • 2 Tbsp. sweetener of choice (sugar, maple syrup, or agave)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 bananas, sliced

Gently mix together your ingredients. Preheat your skillet (I use my trusty cast iron pan). Pour about 1/2 c. of batter into a nice circle, and while it cooks, place about 5 slices of banana into the top of the batter. After bubbles appear on the surface, check to see if the bottom is nicely browned. If so, flip! The banana side will cook more quickly, and the bananas themselves will become caramelized. You may need to oil your pan in between flips if you’re not using a well-seasoned pan (or sometimes even if you are). Stack the cooked pancakes on an oven-proof plate and place in a warm oven until you’re ready to eat. Top with pure maple syrup (or a fruit syrup or compote – yum!) and dig in!

Note: this recipe is infinitely adaptable. Want blueberry pancakes? Add 1 cup of blueberries to the batter. Want cinnamon pancakes? Add 1 tsp. of cinnamon. Want vegan nog pancakes for the holidays? Use nog instead of almond milk, and top with a dusting of nutmeg. You can’t go wrong.

Enjoy!

Gracias Madre

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We celebrated my sweet friend Marissa’s very belated birthday last night at Gracias Madre. It’s my second time at this new, plant-based Mexican restaurant in West Hollywood. I’ve never been to the one in S.F., but now it’s on my “to go” list next time I’m up in the Bay Area. The decor is lovely, with small touches that really make for a great experience, and the food is delicious. They make their own cashew crema and spicy nacho cashew cheese, and they offer a few dishes with mole, which I love. We had a great server last night, who was very attentive — she recommended the brussels sprouts and she was not wrong. They were amazingly indulgent. As were the flautas, El Plato, ginger ale, and pineapple guava juice.