Healthy Monday Tip #2: 8 Steps to Reduce Packaging Waste

Healthy Monday is a public health initiative founded in 2005 in association with Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, and Syracuse University. HM’s goal is to end chronic preventable disease in the U.S. by offering people and organizations a weekly prompt to start and sustain healthy behaviors, intentions, actions and initiatives. For most Americans, the week begins on Monday. Studies suggest we are more likely to maintain behaviors begun on Monday throughout the week. That makes Monday the perfect day to make a change for your health and the health of our planet.

Gaby’s comment from last week’s Healthy Monday gave me the idea for today’s post. I’m going to be running Healthy Monday indefinitely so if you ever have ideas for a Monday Tip just send them along.

Reduce Packaging Waste (food packaging or otherwise)

I buy a lot of things online, but sometimes I skip Amazon’s packaging in favor of something more eco-friendly. I’ve noticed more and more that I will order something and it comes with (unnecessary) bags of packing peanuts, or arrives in a gigantic box, or is contained within obscene amounts of plastic.

I’m a big fan of moderation, so I am not going to suggest anything that is difficult to implement or easy to forget for reducing packaging waste. Sustainability is all about just that – making changes that are sustainable.

Here are 8 quick and easy tips to reduce your packaging waste immediately:

  1. Buy food from bulk bins rather than individually packaged, if possible. (However, don’t buy in bulk if you have to buy more than you will need.)
  2. Avoid buying “single serving” packets of food (for example: buy 6 fresh cookies from the bakery that come in one paper bag instead of 6 individually wrapped cookies that come inside another wrapper).
  3. Don’t let cashiers double-bag your purchases unless absolutely necessary. (Or don’t let them bag them at all.)
  4. Bring your own grocery bags (re-use them).
  5. Try re-usable (travel) coffee mugs instead of new paper or plastic mugs each time you buy or make a cup of coffee or tea.
  6. Buy a loose piece of fruit instead of a bag of candy for your snack.
  7. Try eating less meat (it’s Meatless Monday today). Not *no* meat, just less. Meat is high up on the food chain so it takes more energy (and more waste) to produce than, say, a vegetable.
  8. *Buy Less Stuff In General*. Ohhh, snap. Yes I did just say that. Maybe we should all just cut back on how much we purchase. Is all of it necessary? Nope. Try going a week without buying anything non-essential. It’s hard. But it makes you realize how much you buy that you don’t really need.

Why Reduce Packaging Waste?

Because the earth will thank you. Have you heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s a massive area in the Pacific ocean filled with bits of plastic and crap that humans have tossed out irresponsibly.

Maybe if we just took a few of the steps outlined above the whirling gire of crap wouldn’t be quite so titanic.

What are your tips to reduce our trash production?

There are a lot I didn’t mention because they are (unfortunately) not that reasonable. People will balk at you if you ask them to stop eating out, make everything from scratch, and save their greywater to wash dishes in. To affect change you have to introduce change gradually. (Humans are bad at change.) That’s why I hope my 8 tips are not too crazy 🙂

What’s Up Saturday – 10.23.10

This week’s edition of What’s Up Saturday has lots of goodies (I think). I will not bore you with random musings today; without further ado here is my weekly link love:

Salad Round Up

Food & Recipes

Health Articles

  • Not all calories are created equal?! A new study might show that the source of the calorie might actually impact whether or not you gain weight from it. In other words, an extra 100 calories a day from candy might make you gain more weight than an extra 100 calories a day from peanuts. (From Fooducate.) I eat nuts like they are going out of style so maybe this is why I don’t weigh 300 pounds already.
  • Childhood obesity is running rampant because kids are eating utter crap. Apparently 40% of kids’ calories come from junk food (soda, sugary drinks, desserts, pizza, and whole milk). (Also from Fooducate. I love this blog. I do not agree that whole milk is junk, though – I am a big promoter of full-fat dairy!)

Linguistics Article & Other Random Things

Happy Saturday! Do you have any updates for me?

Crepes du Nord Review (NYC)

A Very Crêpe-y Dinner

Last night I met up with a good friend from college. I gave him three options and we ended up at Crêpes du Nord down by the World Trade Center. Crêpes du Nord is a French Scandanavian Crêperie and Winebar – the French part is the crêpe and the Scandinavian parts are the “super fresh” ingredients.


One review said, “Expect vibrant implosions of herbs and delicate wisps of flavor, joining together for a cohesive marriage of zest and texture.” I don’t think the crêpes were quite that descriptive, but they were definitely out-of-this-world delicious! They were also incredibly reasonably priced, and it was a great atmosphere for chatting.

I got the Vegetarian Ratatouille Crêpe ($8) – a savory crêpe made with organic buckwheat flour and wheat flour. It was stuffed with ratatouille vegetables (squash, mushrooms, herbs, spinach, etc…) and the most amazing ricotta. I adore ricotta. (I even eat it for dessert.) The crêpe was topped with ricotta as well. I told myself I wouldn’t eat it all but then I did.

Chris got the signature crêpe, the Crêpe du Nord ($10) – it was the some whole wheat crêpe batter but it was filled with scrambled egg and “dill crême” (?); topped with smoked salmon.


Do you like crêpes? How often do you see your friends?

My Lunch in 20 Years

…Will probably be a macro plate. But that is not what this post is about! (If you do want to see another yummy macro plate read yesterday’s post.) Last night I watched part of “The Future of Food“, a documentary on Netflix streaming.

(My lunch in 20 years)

(A McDonald’s lunch that is 20 years old – kidding, but this is probably what it would look like: completely and totally the same. The preservatives will keep it fresh. Maybe it will be a little dry. Source.)

The Future of Food: Some Simple Facts About The Food Industry’s History

Today’s facts are not even so much about the future of food, but of the past (I’ll cover the future in a later post, perhaps). I’ll start with a basic question – where are the farmers?

History of the Farming Labor Force

  • Currently (2010) less than 2% of the U.S. population are farmers.
  • In 1790, 90% of the population were farmers.
  • In 1840, 69% of the population were farmers.
  • In 1900, 38% of the population were farmers.
  • In 1940, 18% of the population were farmers.
  • In 1960, 8.3% of the population were farmers.
  • The numbers decline quickly after that, leading to today’s number (<2%).
  • (Source.)

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the fact that fewer of us make a living working on a farm – it is just an interesting trend to follow. Obviously most of us work in offices nowadays. Onto more facts.

History of Agriculture

  • 12,000 years ago people began to plant and save seeds
  • Agriculture led to a huge boom of civilizations. Not having to spend our days hunting and gathering freed up our time to think, create, and develop complex social systems. Agriculture allowed us to discover wonderful things like calculus and to pursue the arts.

History of Food Variety

  • In China, they used to grow thousands of varieties of rice.
  • There used to be over 5000 varieties of potatoes worldwide. (Today there are 4 main varieties.)
  • There were over 7000 types of apples grown just in the U.S. in the 19th century.
  • About 97% of the varieties of fruits and vegetables that existed at the beginning of the 20th centry are now extinct.

This is another interesting trend. When there are fewer and fewer varieties of a type of plant, that plant becomes more and more susceptible to catastrophes. For example, the potato famine in Ireland killed 1 million people because they only grew a few varieties of potatoes. That same potato blight hit in Peru, but they did not suffer nearly as much because they had more varieties of potatoes and many were resistant to the blight. The blight only affected a few of the crops, and people did not starve.

My Farming History

My family used to be farmers. We still have the farms! But we don’t farm anything anymore. Sometimes I wish that I would have had the choice/opportunity to work on a farm (or even run one). My sister works at an organic farm. I wish I had that job when I was in high school (I worked at a video store instead, and then a restaurant).

Have you seen The Future of Food? What did you think? What do you think about the trends in agriculture currently – fewer and fewer farmers, more and more genetic modifications (more on this later), less variety, and so on…?