I thought I was going to write about the circular economy but it’s going to have to wait until next month. There is one particular part of a circular economy that I do want to write about: extended producer responsibility. It’s when the producer is responsible for disposing of the waste created by their product instead of the end-user being responsible. Our composting customer Village Farmstand has begun taking back their packaging, reusing what can be reused, composting what is compostable, and recycling. Do you know of any other businesses that do this? You might also recognize their name as one of the retail stores that host a food scrap drop-off program using our Neighbor Totes. Evanston ReBuilding Warehouse has also started one!

Earlier this month, I was watching a webinar called Moving Beyond Plastics: Restaurant Solutions put on by Shedd Aquarium that featured a company called Dispatch Goods, a California-based company that provides reusable to-go containers to restaurants. I’m intrigued by them because the containers are made from metal with silicone lids. I like that they are not plastic. I’d seen other companies that used plastic and though I was happy their product was reusable, I wasn’t thrilled that they were creating a market for more petroleum-based plastic. Dispatch Goods is hoping to break into the Chicago market. You can support their efforts by signing this petition. I would like to see a program like theirs in Evanston. If you think your municipality would support having this option for carry-out, I’m sure that Dispatch Goods would be happy to hear from you.

I’ve been very torn this year, as I’m sure many of you have been, in wanting to support beloved local restaurants but knowing that how I’ll receive the food (in plastic and styrofoam) does not align with my values. If they were using a reuse system like Dispatch Goods, I definitely would have ordered out more.

Sheila Morovati, founder of the non-profit organization Habits of Waste, also presented at that webinar. Using an email campaign, her organization convinced Uber Eats and Postmates to change the default so that plastic utensils were available only upon request. The organization is working on persuading others. You can help by going to their website and selecting the #CutOutCutlery campaign and they’ll help you send an email to other food delivery companies.

In her presentation on the webinar, Dispatch Goods Co-founder and Chief Sustainability Officer Jessica Heiges used the term “re-earth” to describe composting. Love it! Others have tried to replace the term for composting with one that fits better with reduce, reuse and recycle but the best they could come up with was rot. Re-earth sounds so much better!

Earth Month is Coming

Next month is Earth Month and I’ve been talking to others about what their online celebrations will look like. Have you taken any of the climate quizzes that are in the New York Times like this one entitled: Think You’re Making Good Climate Choices? Take This Mini-Quiz or this one: How Does Your Diet Contribute to Climate Change? The quizzes remind me of waste audits that give you a baseline of where you are now so you can discover where you need to go.

If you’ve aced those two, check out the website of Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN). This is some serious climate curriculum here. They have a Climate Literacy Quiz and an Energy Literacy Quiz.

Doing an actual waste audit or waste assessment is something you could do to celebrate the earth. There are step-by-step guides all over the internet. If you’d like to have the data but not actually do the audit yourself, our friends at Zero Waste Chicago would be happy to assist you. Make sure to order some buckets from us so that you can divert the food scraps from your audit.

You’re probably not going to believe me on this one, but the other day we finally made vegan bacon using organic banana peels, and it was good! The recipe we tried is from a food blog called It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken—such a funny name. I love eating parts of fruits and vegetables that I used to automatically compost. I pride myself on eating all the stems on vegetables like kale, Swiss chard and collard greens and will tell anyone who’ll listen. You chop them up fine if you’re going to eat them raw and if you’re going to sauté them, you can keep them bigger. I don’t eat everything. I know some people make carrot top pesto, but I’m not into that. I just found another new-to-me website called Fork In The Road that has some recipes for them that I’ll try, like this carrot top chimichurri. She suggests using carrot tops in place of parsley. After looking at her website, I’m going to consider sautéing radish greens which I find too prickly to eat raw. In fact, now I kind of wish I hadn’t composted carrot tops and radish greens earlier this week.

Spicing Things Up

Gneiss Spice (pronounced nice spice) is another new-to-me, woman-owned and-operated company. I rarely buy anything these days but I am considering buying one of their magnetic spice racks. They are so beautiful. You can buy jars filled with their organic spices or buy just the jars and fill them yourself.

They are striving to attain zero waste in how they fulfill their orders. They also sell other zero waste stuff like Swedish dishcloths and pepper grinders. There’s a lot to look at on their website.

Buy Nothing Project

I just joined a Buy Nothing Group. I know I just told you I want to buy something, but that doesn’t mean I actually will. Have you heard of the Buy Nothing Project?

I love how they describe themselves: The Buy Nothing Project is about setting the scarcity model of our cash economy aside in favor of creatively and collaboratively sharing the abundance around us. I love this statistic: As of January, 2020 the Buy Nothing Project has at least 1.2 million participants in at least 25 countries, led by at least 6,000 volunteers. I joined because I need a hair dryer and because I know there must be so many hiding in linen closets, waiting to be tossed when it’s time to downsize.

The Year of the Icicle

I assume that most of the readers of this blog are our customers in Chicagoland. We got a lot of snow this year, which created a lot of snow dams, in a lot of gutters, which created a lot of icicles. At least, I think that’s how that works. I know they can be dangerous when they fall but I think they are so lovely, particularly when the sun is shining through them. All those icicles reminded me of the documentary Rivers and Tides that showcases the work of British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist Andy Goldsworthy, who produces site-specific sculptures and land art situated in natural and urban settings. There are several trailers for the film but this one shows you some of the icicle art being made. Watching it would be another beautiful way to celebrate Earth Month.

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Zero Waste Consultant | Collective Resource, Inc.

Mary Beth strongly believes that, “It’s always better to be doing something rather than nothing.” If you’re thinking of composting at home, she can help you work out what your particular “something” can be.

She’s confident a solution can be tailored to fit anyone’s needs and ambitions. “Anyone who eats can be a CRI customer, whether you are an individual or a large organization. I want you to understand the advantages of composting, and I can show you how CRI can make it easy.” Mary Beth has successfully designed waste diversion strategies for individuals, schools, houses of worship and other communities. She’s received the governor’s Environmental Hero award for her work at her daughter’s school. Whether you’re starting with a backyard bin, a kitchen bucket, a worm farm, or large-scale commercial collection, Mary Beth can be your good-natured guide.