Just because you’re heading out in the wilderness, doesn’t mean you have to eat poorly. It also doesn’t mean you have to throw your Rethink Waste lifestyle out the window. Don’t you find it frustrating when you see that little corner of someone’s Clifbar wrapper that fell out of their pocket along the trail? There are lots of ways to reduce your waste when thinking about what you’re going to eat on the trail. Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat well and keep thinking about waste reduction on the trail.

The two main takeaways:

  • Buy bulk and bring reusable containers to the store with you
  • Avoid purchasing foods in non-reusable or non-recyclable containers when you can
  1. DINNER:
    Curried Cashew Chickpea Couscous – for 2 hungry people on an overnight

    Place the following in a ziplock bag (I re-used one that had sunflower seeds in it from a Natural Grocer’s purchase):
    1 c couscous
    1/4 c cashews
    1 T curry powder
    1 t hot pepper flakes, or as you like it
    salt to taste
    some dehydrated veggies such as kale and scallions

    Boil 1.5 c water. Off the heat, stir in contents of ziplock and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and then stir in 1 can tuna (drained), 1 cup cooked chickpeas, and 1/4 c golden raisins.

    BONUS: Dehydrate your veggies using the heat of your car instead of an energy intensive food dehydrator! Solar power is free — kale, scallions, and morel mushrooms have worked great for me in Bend. (This only took 2 hours in my brown car parked in full sun from 12:30pm – 1:30pm on an 85 degree day).

  2. BREAKFAST:
    Oatmeal!

    Ok, so oatmeal isn’t very creative. And trust me — it has not always been my first breakfast choice. But it’s lightweight and versatile! I have come to find that my favorite oatmeal mix has dried mango, crystalized ginger, cardamom to taste, and pecans. You can add sugar if you like it sweet, but I think the mango and sugar from the ginger is enough. Just mix it all up in a reusable container of your choice. Boil water, pour in oatmeal and cook til done! Yum.

    All of those ingredients are available in the bulk section at Food for Less, Market of Choice, and Fred Meyer. You can have your jar tarred at the front register to avoid using the plastic bags. Or you can bring some old plastic bags from home that you have washed out. Boil water, pour in oatmeal ingredients

  3. SNACK #1:
    Trail mix from the bulk section

    Just pick out whatever you like, remembering to bring your reusable jars or bags from home, and mix! This way you don’t have to worry about mining because you will like everything you put in the mix. I like pecans, cranberries, chocolate chips, and crystalized ginger. Again, all available in the bulk section.

  4. SNACK #2:
    Make your own bars!

    By buying ingredients from the bulk section and making bars at home we can monitor what goes into our bars AND reduce the amount of packaging we bring home from the store. Even if we use the plastic bulk bags, at least we can reuse them the next time in the bulk section or, as I sometimes do, use them to clean up after my dog. After the bars are made, you can freeze them and then stack them in a reusable container. When you head out on the trail, you can wrap a few in a beeswax wrap any other reusable container.

 

Here is a great formula for building your own bars from the No Meat Athlete.

And here is a link for some homemade Larabar hacks.

What is your favorite reduced waste trail meal?

 

 

 

I’ve been reading a lot about spring cleaning lately. Maybe in part because Marie Kondo has become so popular in the main stream? It’s great that she has really encouraged people to downsize and get rid of all the stuff they have purchased that no longer brings them joy. However, it recently came to my attention that not once in her “Tidying Up” show has she even mention anything about the environmental impacts of owning so many things. Wouldn’t it be great if in the process of helping people clean their lives of unnecessary and unwanted stuff she talked (even a little) about how maybe buying less stuff in the first place could make an even greater impact on simplifying their lives? Maybe if they could slim their purchases they wouldn’t be in the predicament of being surrounded by overwhelming mounds of stuff?

But in the end, maybe the KonMari method of decluttering will have a happy side effect of helping decrease excessive consumerism. Who knows?

Speaking of decluttering and spring cleaning, I’m in it. I’m going to be honest here and air out one of my personal short comings: I am a terrible housekeeper. While I don’t think I’m excessively messy, I’m just not great at cleaning. And, frankly, I don’t really enjoy doing it! Anyone else in this boat with me? But through the process of ridding yourself of things that no longer “spark joy”, I want to bring the cleaning closet to attention. We really don’t need all those products that the advertisements say we need — plus most of those cleaners are considered household hazardous waste. They are toxic to our bodies, our kids, our pets and our environment.

But we really don’t need all that stuff! Here is a list of 8 simple items that you need to keep your house clean. Two nice things about this list: most items are already found in your house and they are all non-toxic.

  • Vinegar – Removes grease and soap scum. Deodorizer.
  • Castile Soap – General cleaning agent.
  • Baking Soda – Mildly abrasive. Deodorizer.
  • Lemon or essential oils – Good for making your homemade cleaners smell good! But not necessary.
  • Salt – benign abrasive substance.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide – Disinfectant.
  • Rubbing Alcohol – Disinfectant, but very flammable. Use only in well-ventilated areas.
  • Elbow Grease

Here are a couple of easy DIY recipes for household cleaners:

  1. All Purpose Household Cleaner.
    Combine in a spray bottle:

    -1/4 cup  distilled white vinegar

    -1/2 teaspoon liquid soap

    -3/4 cup warm water

    Shake to blend.

  2. Abrasive cleaner #1 for surfaces
    Combine baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Apply with a rag.
  3. Abrasive cleaner #2 for surfaces
    Combine full strength distilled white vinegar with some salt. Apply with a rag.

To inspire you to do some spring cleaning of your own, here is my own endeavor of cleaning my stove. It’s a tough stove to clean, and as I already mentioned. It has glass that always shows smudges and huge troughs beneath each burner that are magnets for all the food bits I drop. I used both abrasive cleaner #1 on the left two burners and abrasive cleaner #2 on the right burners.

Here is my post-cleaning session stove! Isn’t it beautiful?

What I learned:

  • Abrasive Cleaner #1:
    • The baking soda worked well as an scrubbing agent.
    • The baking soda left a slight film on the glass and burner surfaces, but was easily wiped up with a rag after the main cleaning event.
  • Abrasive Cleaner #2:
    • The salt was a little tough to get all off of the stove, but was an excellent abrasive agent.
    • The vinegar mixture was better at removing more grease.
    • The vinegar mixture was also a better glass cleaner.
  • Elbow grease was an important ingredient with both mixtures.
  • Overall I would choose the vinegar mixture for my stove top in the future.
  • I think the best practice is to clean on a regular basis rather than wait for Spring Cleaning!

Check out this link for more recipes for DIY cleaners such as windshield wiper fluid and toilet bowl cleaners. Also, here is our blog about DIY Laundry Soap!

What are your DIY cleaning tips? What works best for you?

Just don’t put it in your curbside bin!

Plus: What do you think are the 3 very common contaminants in curbside recycling?

Recycling! It’s a buzz word. Often times what we think of as “recyclable” and “not recyclable” has to do with what you can and can’t put in your curbside bin. But just because it will contaminate your curbside bin, doesn’t mean it isn’t actually recyclable! (For curbside recycling info, check out this link here.) So you can become a recycling warrior and take it to the next level, here are 6 things that ARE RECYCLABLE in Deschutes County:

  1.  Corks!
    Cork is a precious resource that is harvested from trees: an amazing renewable resource that you can find great reuses for if you are feeling crafty. You can also drop them off at places like the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. But if you can’t find a reuse for it, Cork ReHarvest is a company that collects the corks and finds a way to recycle them. You can drop your corks off at the Whole Foods Market in Bend. Please note this recycling opportunity is only for real cork corks — not for the ones made out of plastic.
  2. Plastic Film
    Wait! You might think you already know all about this…you might be thinking, “I know! I always drop my plastic grocery bags off at the front of the grocery store!” Well, not so fast. First, in addition to your clean and dry plastic film grocery bags, you can put bubble wrap, case wrap, clean ziplocks, produce bags, 100% plastic mailers, shipping air pillows and more in that bin. (There is one in the front of Safeway, Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Target, Home Depot and more…click here for a complete list.) Even though the City of Bend has passed a ban on plastic bags, there is still plenty of plastic film in the world that can go in these bins. This film is turned into products such as Trex decking and Polywood outdoor furniture (the latter of which you can purchase at Powderhouse here in Bend!)
  3. Old Musical Instrument Strings
    Calling all musicians! Bend is a town full of them. Did you know they are recyclable? You can drop off your old strings at Central Oregon Recording: 61419 S Hwy 97 Suite N.
  4. PakTech 6-pack Holders
    Hold on to your hard plastic PakTech 6-pack holders and drop them off at Worthy, GoodLife or Cascade Lakes! I heard if you take them to Worthy, you might get a dollar off your next 6 pack or a pint.
  5. Paint!
     And Stains. There are several places around the county where paint can be recycled including most paint stores, ReStores, and Deschutes Recycling. It’s important to keep it out of the landfill because it is a household hazardous waste. There are lots of HHW types accepted at Deschutes Recycling at Knott Landfill.
  6. All Number 5 Plastics
    The Gimme 5 program collects #5 plastics and turns it all into Preserve brand toothbrushes, razors and more. There is a drop off bin at Whole Foods, right in the front of the store!

And here are the 3 most common culprits for curbside contamination. Keep these things out of the blue bin, THEY ARE NOT RECYCLABLE curbside.

  1. Coffee Cups – These are plastic lined and CANNOT be recycled anywhere in Deschutes County. The best thing to do is to Bring Your Own Cup!
  2. Plastic Clamshells – These are made of a low quality plastic that doesn’t have a buyer in the recycling market. They often hold muffins, spinach, and berries. The best thing to do is to avoid purchasing things that come in a clamshell.
  3. Plastic Film – Although this is recyclable at grocery stores and some other places of business, just keep it out of your curbside bin! READ: You can’t bag your recyclables! Just put them directly in the curbside bin and take the trash bag (as long as it’s clean) to be recycled at the store. Or better yet, don’t line your indoor recycling bin to begin with. Just make sure things are clean before you put them in there. It’s always best practice to bring your own bag whenever you can — this includes reusable produce bags that you can even make out of old t-shirts. But if you do have plastic film, reusing and then recycling is the best course of action.

And there is so much more that can be recycled. Check out our Find a Recycler or Reuser tool.

Everybody has an opinion and not everyone’s opinion is the same. I have the opinion that plastic is an amazingly versatile and useful substance. It is ubiquitous in our lives; but I am also under the opinion that we do not need to use it nearly as much as we do. I’m speaking specifically to single use plastics–that is defined as plastic packaging or containers or silverware or anything that is only used one time and is disposed up just after use. Humanity has made a lot of recent progress around reducing single use plastics, but there is a lot of work to be done.

So, what can you do? Today, rethink your bathroom purchases.

  • Do you really need to buy that item?
  • Can you choose a product that comes in a smaller amount of packaging? Or maybe no packaging at all?
  • Can you buy a product in bulk reusing containers you already have available?
  • Can you make it yourself instead?

Here are a few specific items you can think about while reducing bathroom plastic.

Cleaning Your Pearly Whites

  • Toothbrushes are made of single use plastic and they come in a single use plastic container. There are some greener options for this. Apparently it is tough on your gums to use biodegradable bristles, so the best options all seem to have synthetic bristles. I would love to be told otherwise about this! Here are a few I found available locally:
    • Senza Bamboo – available at Market of Choice. Bamboo handle (a variety not eaten by pandas). Boasts 100% compostable packaging. Offers a tip on how to remove plastic bristles before tossing the handle in your yard debris bin.
    • Woo Bamboo – available at Safeway and Natural Grocers
    • Preserve – available all over! Handle is made from old yogurt cups. After you’re done using it, you can toss it into the Gimme 5 recycling bin at Whole Foods Market. According to the package, the case that the toothbrush comes in is also recyclable in the Gimme 5 bin.
  • Dental Floss is plastic string that comes in a plastic case. There are some alternatives you can find in town such as floss made from 100% silk and cases that are paper or metal. Another option is an electric water flosser: reusable over and over again!
  • Mouthwash is one of those things that we often tend toward after flossing. It rinses those bits away and leaves your mouth feeling fresh and clean. But what is actually in it to make your mouth fresh? Ever read the ingredients on the back of those bottles? Anyway, there are some pretty simple mixtures that you can try out. Just take a gander at some DIY recipes. HumanKind has some mouthwash tablets,
  • Toothpaste comes in a single use tube that is not recyclable that always comes inside of a cardboard box that is recyclable, but what’s the point? There are a few options here. Here is a pretty good review of some plastic free options.
    • Toothpaste that comes in glass jars. I’ve seen a couple options here at grocery store.
    • Toothpaste tabs! Although I haven’t found any of these available in Bend, there are lots of online options. Some come with more packaging than others, but you can do some research.
    • DIY toothpaste!

Deodorant!

This is a tough one for a lot of people. I, for one, have had a hard time finding a good-for-you (i.e. without aluminum) deodorant that actually works. I tried the crystal, I tried the all natural Tom’s of Maine and others similar… I didn’t have a lot of luck. But I just tried a new one: Armpit Armor from Bohemian Peddler. And I have to say, I’m a big fan. And you know what else? It’s made in Madras, Oregon. And it comes in a paper tube! Check it out at locavore.

Another option that a friend just told me about is DIY deodorant. It has similar ingredients to the Armpit Armor, so I would like to try it out!

There is a company called Myro that offers refillable deodorant stick. That is definitely something to try, too! The refillable tube is plastic, but at least it’s refillable. HumanKind does refillable deodorant, too.

Everyone has a different body pH, so something that works for some might not work for others. I would love to know more about what works for different folks.

Bar Soap

This is probably the easiest thing to switch to to eliminate some plastic from your bathroom. Here is a great article about the benefits of bars.

There are SO many local bar soap options that come in minimal or no packaging. Just stop by locavore to discover your options! Steena’s Suds makes some great ones including a Shampoo Bar — of which I am now a convert. It works great and feels good in my hair after washing. It leaves a little squeaky feel to it, but only at first. I really recommend it.

Bottom Line

Really, it’s just important to stop and think and notice what you are buying and what you are bringing into your house. Again: do you need it? Can you find an item with less packaging? Can you make it yourself?

You choose with your dollar. I would like to reduce the use of single plastics in my house. What about yours?

What do you do with your old clothes? There are lots of ways to make more space in your closet without throwing clothes in the trash. According to the Oregon DEQ, Americans throw away over 32 billion pounds of textiles a year, but over 90% of clothing and shoes are recyclable. Textile recovery is an important issue. So let’s keep those clothes out of the landfill and make sure they are used to their full potential!

Here is a list, in order of importance, about how to deal with your textiles:

  1. First, think about your clothing purchase to begin with. Do you really need that?
  2. Now, if you DO need it, think about HOW you’re buying it:
    • Can you get a used item rather than a new one?
      — Get it from a thriftstore like ReGroup or the Humane Society Thrift Store, to name a couple in Bend.
      — Shop a consignment store like GearFix or Bag Ladies.
      — You can shop for used clothes online, too, and some even have a personal stylist!
      The Renewal Workshop: a company that fixes and resells outdoor clothing
      And We Evolve: a personalized style company with secondhand clothes
      ThredUP: a consignment store where you can shop by item
    • Can’t find it used and really do need it? Think about the quality of the item you are buying. Textiles that are cheaply and poorly made don’t last as long on your body. Since making clothing is resource intensive (1,500 gallons of water to manufacture just one T-shirt and pair of jeans!), it’s best to get all you can out of every article of clothing.
    • The importance of sustainable clothing choices — something related to waste prevention, but not really discussed here — is also worth learning about. Check out this podcast from Big Closets, Small Planet: A Crash Course in Sustainable Fashion. In 13 minutes, learn a little bit about the environmental and social impacts of the apparel industry. You can stay up on all textile news with Ecotextile News and learn more about textile recovery from RRS.
  3. Take care of the clothes that you buy!
    • Only use the dryer when you have to. It is hard on clothes.
    • Wash your clothes inside out and in cold water.
    • Don’t wash them unless they actually need to be cleaned! You don’t need to wash your pants every time you wear them. Sniff test anyone?
    • Bring it to a Repair Cafe! There’s one coming up in Bend: April 2 at the Gear Fix.
  4. If you are actually done with some of the clothes in your closet — yeah I know! tastes and fashion changes — what can you do with them?
    • DONATE THEM! Are the items still good to wear? Not too many holes or stains? There are many thrift stores that accept donated clothes in town. This way, someone else can wear them. Plus, thrift stores are typically non-profits that earn money based on donations to help good causes. Find the thrift store whose cause you care about.
    • Is it a Patagonia product? Drop it off at the Patagonia store here in Bend!
      • If the item is usable, you can get credit for it because they will resell it online through Patagonia Worn Wear. They will fix what is broken (like a zipper or patchable hole) and make it usable again.
  5. Ok — sometimes clothes really are at the end of their life as a piece of clothing. But there are still things you can do with them.
    • Re-purpose it!
      • Change that old sweater into a hat from the good bits.
      • Holes in the knees of your jeans? Cut-offs are always in style. Don’t like cut-offs? Hem them up! Then, make a dog toy from the legs!
      • There are SO many blog posts for DIY upcycled sewing projects. Google it or check out Pinterest.
      • Have an old t-shirt you LOVE but it’s just time to go? Or an old hole-y flannel shirt? It’s winter outside, y’all: how about a handkerchief? Here’s a cool reversible one.
    • If it’s no longer usable, you can still recycle it.
      • Is it a Patagonia product? Take it to the Patagonia store!
        • If the item is no longer usable, Patagonia’s Common Threads Initiative will recycle it: break it down and recycle it into new fiber or fabric or repurpose what can’t yet be recycled.
      • Turn old jeans into home insulation! Blue Jeans Go Green recently celebrated recycling over 1 million pieces of denim.
      • Do you have towels and blankets in decent condition? You can donate them to the Humane Society!
      • Some thrift stores may accept old unsellable clothing. Call ahead to double check.
      • Get a TerraCycle Box and recycle it through the mail.
      • Here are 10 household textiles you might not have known can be recycled (thanks to TerraCycle’s Make Garbage Great book):
        • Stuffed Animals
        • Entire bedding sets
        • Halloween costumes
        • Boots
        • Cloth napkins
        • Purses and handbags
        • Pillows
        • Curtains and drapes
        • Belts
        • Athletic jerseys
  6. The only time fabrics should head to the landfill is if you have already used them to clean off all the greasy bits from your bicycle chain or automobile. Last resort.

Take home: keep those textiles out of the landfill!

Want to learn more about the textile industry, the importance of preventing textile waste, and how to get involved? Check out these great resources from Resource Recycling Systems.

Rethink Waste Project Goes Full Time!

The Rethink Waste Guide was launched in 2011 as a one stop shop print resource, as a place for Deschutes County residents to go to find information on ways to prevent and reduce waste, as well as manage materials through the online Find a Recycler/Reuser database. Shortly after its launch, the guide became the Rethink Waste Project (RWP) and expanded to include education and community outreach. At that time, I (Denise Rowcroft) took over managing the RWP, in addition to our Kansas Avenue Learning Garden. Since then our community has grown, and along with it our programs here at The Environmental Center have grown as well. So it is with great excitement that I announce that we beginning this January, Ani Kasch, our Rethink Food Waste Campaign Coordinator (and LED program scheduler extraordinaire), will be taking over the Rethink Waste Project full time. This is exciting, because for the first time since its launch the RWP will have a staff dedicated just to that one project. This will also allow me to focus on our growing Garden for Every School initiative, of which our on-site learning garden is just one of 5 strategies.

For the next 6 months I will be working alongside Ani as she takes on this project and learns all its ins and outs, and contributing to special projects like focusing on what we can do as a community to reduce tourism related waste and educate our visitors on how we treat our community. (And if you play a role in our tourism industry, or have a perspective to lend, please get in touch with Denise to find out how to get involved.) We will also be co-presenting on waste prevention through the Deschutes Public Library Know Less (Waste) events this February at various branches, come say hi! We’ll be in East Bend, Sunriver, and Sisters.

I am excited to see the larger impact that a program can have when there is a single focus of its manager, both for Ani and myself in our new respective programs, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside Ani and to continue to be a resource for her and you moving forward. On the horizon, you can look forward to seeing an updated Rethink Waste print Guide to include developments over the past 8 years and to be released later in the year, integrating the Rethink Food Waste campaign into the RWP existing program offerings, creating shorter single topic presentations to be made available to the community, and continuing to assist Deschutes County think through the future of our landfill and our waste stream. And of course, I plan to help out at our next Repair Cafe at The Gear Fix on April 2nd.

In a meeting recently I heard about a wonderful gift idea. A jar filled with 365 slips of paper, each with it’s own memory, given to a parent. It turns out, memory jars are really popular projects on Pinterest and have a variety of applications. It’s too late in the month for me to realistically carry out such an idea, but it made me wonder, what are other gift ideas like this, that are really meaningful, require very little in the way of cash, maybe more of a time input? Dear reader, I’ll buy you a Hydroflask cup of your choice if I like the idea. We’ll be sharing them on our Facebook page over the next week.

In the meanwhile, here are some other ideas along those lines, the most of which can be found on the website New Dream.

What alternatives to traditional gifts have you come across? Let us know in the comments or email denise today! (really, we’ll enter you to win your choice of Hydroflask cup!)

 

In the past we’ve written about 10 things to do other than shop on Black Friday. 4 years ago REI started their #OptOutside campaign, and began closing its doors on Friday to make a pretty bold statement about using this day as an opportunity to choose being outdoors over our cultural push to just keep.buying.more.stuff.  Oregon State Parks recently announced that once again they are waiving all entrance fees as a way to encourage people to make Black Friday a Green Friday.  Almost every year I do my best to celebrate Buy Nothing Day, which is easy when it means don’t go to a big box store (that technically opened on Thanksgiving…thanks corporate America). But this year I’ve been thinking about how I’m in the minority on this topic, and most of our society is just going to go ahead and buy.more.stuff. So if you insist on shopping on Black Friday, consider adopting one of these 3 standards to guide your spending and use your hard-earned dollars in a way that strengthens our community and prevents future waste.

  • Buy Local: Yes there’s also Small Business Saturday, but hey, you can’t hit every local store in one day and many have sales the whole weekend, so spread that love around! For instance, Pine Mountain Sports is donating half of all sales that day to Family Access Network, allowing your money to go even deeper into our community.
  • Buy Energy Efficient: It seems that Black Friday is not just about holiday shopping for others, but about scoring big deals for yourself. So, if you find that you are using Black Friday as a day to stock up on appliances, use this opportunity to buy ones with an Energy Star rating. Check out this article and resource on Energy Saving 101 with appliances from The Energy Challenge, (another program of The Environmental Center).
  • Buy Quality: The one thing that sales are good at (other than getting our dopamine all jacked up for getting a good deal on crap we don’t need) is allowing our money to go further by allowing us to buy a better product at an amount we can afford. This may be in the form of a gift, for your home, or for yourself. Think Quality Over Quantity. Do your research and read reviews so that you buy something that will not break within 6 months, is made to last for years, and is made with repairability and source materials in mind.

For most of us, our time is exchanged for money. So when you spend your money, you are essentially trading your time for that item.
Was it worth it?

 

 

On Thursday, October 18, 2018, it was exactly nine years since Martine Postma organized the very first Repair Café in Amsterdam. Today there are over 1,600 Repair Cafés in 33 countries on six continents. Here in our own backyard, The Environmental Center’s Rethink Waste Project organized the first local event five years ago at Pakit Liquidators, which has since transformed into the shared maker space, DIY Cave.

Repair Cafés are events that connect people with broken stuff, with people who like to fix stuff. Over the past five years, over 400 items have been repaired through 15 local events with different host partners including The Gear Fix, DIY Cave, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, Deschutes Public Library, Central Oregon Community College, and more.

“For us, Repair Cafés fit into the mission of the Rethink Waste Project by preventing tangible waste through repair instead of replacement,” said Denise Rowcroft, Rethink Waste Program Manager with The Environmental Center. “But the really cool side effect of having repair events is less tangible – it’s about connecting people to their stuff in a way that gets them thinking about how they consume and the purchases they make, which is ultimately where we have more impact.”

Repair Cafés are free and staffed by volunteer fixers. Volunteers bring their own tools and variety of expertise, and will often troubleshoot difficult-to-repair items together or share tools. They have expertise in small appliances and electronics, clothing, outdoor gear, jewelry, and small furniture. Rowcroft added that volunteers receive a lot of satisfaction in keeping things out of the landfill, and attendees often really enjoy their interactions with volunteers and learning more about repair.

“It’s exciting to be a part of a global network of people, helping each other out by fixing stuff. It’s building community and resilience, and it’s just really fun.”

Shortly following International Repair Café Week, October 13 -21, the next local Repair Café will be on October 30, 2018 at the Redmond Public Library from 5:30 -7:30 p.m. People can bring in multiple items for repair, but are asked to sign up for one at a time so as not to dominate one volunteer for the whole evening.

“Repair café events are a perfect fit for Library programming,” said Liz Goodrich of the Deschutes Public Library. “These fun, community-based events provide opportunities for the volunteers to share their skills with participants.”

Back to school means school lunches! In our house we have a 5 year old Food Hero (she’ll try it, but she often just doesn’t like it), whose tastes are not reliable. When I took these photos she decided she didn’t like yogurt covered raisins anymore (cause raisins are on the outs, at least for now). With her finicky ways, I’m trying to get her more involved in preparing her own school lunches in the hopes of reducing packaging waste and preventing food waste.

10% of what you pay for a product is packaging. So if you’re grabbing the individually bagged snacks you’re paying more, creating more waste, and have less actual product.  Buy in bulk to sample new things (like yogurt covered raisins) that way you can dial in something they love – at least for now – then buy a full jars worth in the bulk aisle next time. They can help the night before scooping the snacks into small reusable bags, saving you time in the morning and building up their independence.

I recently found Bumkins reusable snack bags, and they were well made, easy to clean and relatively affordable. You can also sew your own reusable snack bags or fuse plastic bags to recycle disposable products into a waterproof fabric to turn into snack bags.

It’s not a zero waste lunch. I still put in individually wrapped fruit leather, because the only way around that is to make my own, (I plan to try this soon while fruit is dropping off trees all over my neighborhood!).  And often food comes back uneaten and goes into the trash, to the dog, in the compost, or to future smoothies. (Example A: apples).

What are your zero waste school lunch tips?