By Emily Deanne
Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.
Conserve Heating and Cooling<p><a href="https://www.energystar.gov/sites/default/files/tools/DataTrends_Dormitory_20150129.pdf" target="_blank">Air-conditioning</a> packs the biggest punch for dorm power usage, and if your room has individual temperature control, you can set it a few degrees higher to help cut back on how much energy the cooling system uses. Never leave a window open when an air conditioner (or heater) is running, and on hot, sunny days, keeping the blinds or curtains closed will block many of the sun's warming rays. In the winter, this will help keep the cold out, too. Year round, report broken windows, cracks in doorways, or any damaged thermostat controls to the university maintenance department. </p>
Light Efficiently<p><br>Switch off your overhead light, desk lamp, and any other lights every time you leave the dorm. To take your environmentalism a step further, if the bulbs provided aren't LEDs, <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-shop-energy-efficient-light-bulbs" target="_blank">consider swapping some in</a>. LEDs are 85 percent more efficient than old-fashioned incandescents and last much, much longer. If you decide to decorate with that dorm room staple, a string of holiday lights, make sure those are LEDs too. (Find tips on how to shop for energy-efficient bulbs <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-shop-energy-efficient-light-bulbs" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p>
Unplug Everything<p>The average dorm room consumes 30.2 percent of its electrical energy while you and your roomies aren't there, according to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378778814010299" target="_blank">one study</a>. That's because appliances <a href="https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/energy-vampires-are-attacking-your-home-here-s-how-stop-them" target="_blank">continue to draw power from electrical outlets even when turned off or idle</a>. A power strip or surge protector helps avoid this: You can plug all your appliances and devices into it, then easily stop them from drawing power with one switch.</p>
Don’t Make Your Screens Work Too Hard<p>If you have a television, look for an energy-saving feature called Automatic Brightness Control. It automatically adjusts the picture brightness level to the amount of light in the room. Game consoles can be huge energy drainers if used to stream videos or if constantly left on. Instead, stream with apps already on your TV or with a streaming device (like Roku or Apple TV), which require <a href="https://www.energystar.gov/products/configuring_todays_game_consoles_use_less_energy_0" target="_blank">one-fifteenth the energy</a>. Keep the auto-power-down feature enabled so your game console doesn't consume power when you aren't using it.</p><p>Desk computers and laptops are college necessities, and as with your gaming console, you can typically program your computer to go into a low-power standby mode when you're taking a break. Look for an energy-saving or eco-mode.</p><p>Shopping for a new computer? <a href="https://www.energystar.gov/products/office_equipment/computers" target="_blank">Check out this website</a> to find one that is certified by Energy Star to be energy efficient. (Any printer or mini-fridge you buy should be similarly certified.)</p>
Reduce Water Use<p>If you have a dishwasher in your room or suite, run it only with a full load; the same goes for doing laundry. Wash clothes in cold water and consider using a drying rack instead of an electric clothes dryer, which <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/easy-ways-save-energy-home" target="_blank">often uses as much energy as a new refrigerator, dishwasher, and clothes washer combined</a>.</p><p>If you live in an apartment-style dorm, more bonus points to you if you add a faucet aerator to your sinks. Aerators can reduce water flow <a href="https://www.epa.gov/watersense/bathroom-faucets" target="_blank">to 1.5 gallons per minute or less</a> from the standard flow of 2.2 gallons per minute. They are inexpensive and easy to screw onto the nozzle of your faucet, and they <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/energy-efficient-home-makeover" target="_blank">save energy by reducing your hot water use.</a></p>
Save the Food<p><a href="https://www.nrdc.org/resources/wasted-how-america-losing-40-percent-its-food-farm-fork-landfill" target="_blank">An NRDC study</a> found that about 40 percent of food is wasted in the U.S., which leads to a lot of emissions from food rotting in landfills. (One such gas is methane, a greenhouse gas that is up to <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/natural-gas-industry-has-methane-problem" target="_blank">80 times as effective at trapping heat as carbon dioxide)</a>. Do your part to help keep food scraps out of the landfill. Don't pile a tray with more food than you can possibly eat at the dining hall and keep a set of reusable containers on hand, in case you find yourself with extra slices from your late-night pizza delivery. With leftovers you can't store, it's best to toss them into a compost bin if there's one on-site or nearby; some cities host farmers markets where you can drop off composted food for free. You could even start a composting club or, if your roommate agrees, make your <a href="https://nrdc.tumblr.com/post/118984184239/how-to-build-a-worm-bin" target="_blank">own composting worm bin</a>.</p>
Create a Movement<p>With communal spaces and shared amenities, it can be hard to regulate every part of your energy use. Talking with your resident advisor (RA) about ways to increase dorm energy efficiency is a great way to make meaningful change. You could also join—or even start—an environmental club or energy efficiency council on your campus. When you join together with other student activists standing up against climate change, your impact on greening college life will go well beyond those dorm room walls.</p>
There's nothing like firing up the grill, playing some lawn games and enjoying the long days of summer with some of your best friends or closest family. But, let's face it; burning charcoal, sipping out of Solo cups and noshing on disposable plates isn't the most eco-friendly way to enjoy summer. In fact, here's a mind blowing set of stats from the Department of Energy, July 4th cookouts release 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, burn the equivalent of 2,300 acres of forest, and use enough charcoal, lighter fuel and gas to power 20,000 households for one year.
1. Green Your Gear<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTYyODE3OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MTAzOTMyN30.qRWmQSiZAPEELt6sYTAK-H2CxlPatj-XivEZsX2pYvQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="14c42" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fb04b0b1a365285059eb1967b9aa48dc" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Pexels<p>Ditch the charcoal grill to reduce your carbon footprint. Propane, natural gas and electric grills all burn cleaner than charcoal. Remember, propane and natural gas are not renewable energy sources. So, if you really want to up your eco-grilling game, opt for a <a href="https://www.oneearthdesigns.com/" target="_blank">solar powered grill</a>. The technology has advanced so far that your grill is ready five times faster than charcoal.</p><p>If solar isn't happening for you this summer, <a href="https://greenerideal.com/food/0405-summer-is-coming-how-to-have-an-eco-friendly-bbq/" target="_blank">Greener Ideal</a> suggests a <a href="https://www.bbqguys.com/grill-dome/infinity-series-large-kamado-grill-black" target="_blank">dome grill</a> as an elegant and durable option. It traps and recirculates heat so effectively it will drastically reduce how much fuel is needed to cook your food.</p><p>If your motto is charcoal or nothing, shoot for a <a href="https://biggreenegg.com/product/100-natural-lump-charcoal/" target="_blank">sustainably sourced natural briquette</a> without chemicals that are made from local plants instead of wood from tropical forests. And, use a <a href="https://www.virtualweberbullet.com/using-chimney-starter.html" target="_blank">starter chimney</a> to eliminate the need for chemical-heavy lighter fluid.</p>
2. Ditch the Disposables<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTYyODIwMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5Nzc1MDIyMX0.xRPs6CKUSeaLGDLIjyF7HfiC8lKZ5GpE13YCW24p5Aw/img.jpg?width=980" id="d3b91" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bac8eaffcbe0364c7cc3054820a67a34" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
PxHere<p>Make sure you've <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/sustainably-sourced-products-2617388522.html">got the right reusable</a> grilling tools like this <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Extremely-Practical-Grill-Set-Waterproof/dp/B06XZCMVJH/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1523795403&sr=8-5&keywords=bbq+grill+set&linkCode=sl1&tag=greeidea0b-20&linkId=d9583d33fc64d890c30105a57b85f620" target="_blank">eco-friendly kit</a> that <a href="https://greenerideal.com/food/0405-summer-is-coming-how-to-have-an-eco-friendly-bbq/" target="_blank">Greener Ideal</a> suggests. It's got all your essentials — including a multipurpose flipper, basting brush, knife and hot mitt. Plus, a nifty carrying case means you're less likely to lose any parts.</p><p>Before setting up those Hefty bags to hold all those plastic plates and forks headed to a landfill, consider reusable plates, cups and cutlery. If you're thinking of using paper plates, don't. It's a waste of water. A single paper plate takes eight gallons of water to make. That's a lot of water when you consider how many plates you'll run through. By contrast, a dishwasher uses six to 10 gallons of water to clean a full load, <a href="https://joe.org/joe/2003february/rb3.php" target="_blank">research shows</a>. </p><p>Yet, if disposable is necessary, go for a <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Pure-Palm-All-Natural-Eco-Friendly-Compostable/dp/B073WKSL33/ref=asc_df_B073WKSL33/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=241948599983&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6571221719747402981&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1022219&hvtargid=pla-420328568874&psc=1" target="_blank">green alternative</a> to paper and plastic. Plates made from bamboo, palm or <a href="https://greenpaperproducts.com/biodegradable-compostable-fiber-plates-p005n.aspx?var=100ik=1760&gclid=CjwKCAjw0tHoBRBhEiwAvP1GFUWW3XhLpFtR7zo6ad7V-AoIc8c1jlqpivC1knW8lubTJfC7IChbCxoCHs4QAvD_BwE" target="_blank">plant fibers</a> are fully compostable. It's easy to go green with drinking straws. Try reusable <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Stainless-Steel-Friendly-Straws/dp/B07MTPCN3J/ref=asc_df_B07MTPCN3J/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=344058097101&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1539416287603245502&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1022219&hvtargid=pla-644890852222&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=68456165999&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=344058097101&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1539416287603245502&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1022219&hvtargid=pla-644890852222" target="_blank">metal</a> and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Ecological-Alternative-multi-usage-Bambaw/dp/B079LCSBBN/ref=asc_df_B079LCSBBN/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=242032081623&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4474977336390236256&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1022219&hvtargid=pla-454587319629&psc=1" target="_blank">bamboo</a> straws, or disposable straws made from <a href="https://www.haystraws.com/products/hay-straws-100-pack?variant=12335821881378&campaign=1643218284&content=315503607763&keyword=&gclid=CjwKCAjw0tHoBRBhEiwAvP1GFeG7f1m71OVQMmOdOMCPR-Je6n1lvODywy2vIZFI9IgGbVgv-Y1syRoCdRIQAvD_BwE" target="_blank">hay</a> or <a href="https://www.loliware.com/" target="_blank">seaweed</a>. And <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Barbecue-Skewers-Ring-Tip-Handle/dp/B000FQBJWW" target="_blank">reusable kebab sticks</a> are an elegant way to serve up all those local, grilled veggies. </p>
3. Think Local<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTYyODIzNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMTIzNDk0MH0.Znje15xwJdV2b_6Dwmn7Ya4qayX-XDTKdcL4Lwb70dQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="789b5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bb99a9b69b3b152c7c03a488d08f8b6d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Pexels<p>The bulk of any barbecue's greenhouse gas emissions is in food choices. The <a href="https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2015-4-july-august/green-life/5-ways-green-your-4th-july" target="_blank">Sierra Club</a> suggests shrinking your BBQs carbon footprint by buying local fruits, veggies and meat. Your local farmers market may even have a homemade potato chip stand. Buying locally grown foods cuts down on the energy required to store, transport and package food across long distances.</p><p>Buying at your farmers market will support your local economy and help build a relationship with the person who grew your food. Plus, as <a href="https://www.goodshop.com/blog/2016/05/27/green-your-bbq-10-tips-for-an-eco-friendly-cookout/" target="_blank">GoodShop</a> points out, during summer, local fruits and veggies are usually at their peak, so your BBQ will have that much more flavor. </p><p>Have fun serving up a sample of local wines and craft beers. </p>
4. More Veggies. Sustainably Sourced Meat<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTYyODE0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMjQ5NzQwOH0.QU_OIfBC3Ed01_POWQ2U9rSKOr2T6JDF-lwU4n2xlZI/img.jpg?width=980" id="b1d8e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="18ea251899b1e0a3319202abfe3e8303" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A veggie burger.
Max Pixel<p>While burgers and dogs usually take center-stage at a summer barbecue, an eco-friendly picnic should restructure that paradigm. Every pound of beef you eliminate from your barbecue makes a big difference in your carbon footprint. British chefs told the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/may/26/how-to-have-ethical-barbecue" target="_blank">Guardian</a> to reduce beef, pork and chicken and going for sustainable seafood like Arctic char, tilapia and squid. And, if red meat is necessary, go for lamb, which is almost always raised on grass pastures.</p><p>And, there are no shortages of meat replacements these days. <a href="https://www.treehugger.com/htgg/how-to-go-green-barbecues.html" target="_blank">Treehugger</a> suggests using portobello mushrooms or chickpea burgers. The <a href="https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2015-3-may-june/green-life/4th-july-throw-vegan-barbecue-even-meat-eaters-will-love" target="_blank">Sierra Club</a> has a recipe for a sweet potato black bean burger. And <a href="https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/the-beyond-burger/" target="_blank">Beyond Meat</a> burgers are available at most major grocery stores. </p>
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Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.
By Kayla Robbins
Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.
Reusable Straws<p>If you're someone who loves to sip sweet tea through a straw or slurp a breakfast smoothie during your commute, reusable straws are a great alternative for the disposal plastic variety that have been <a href="https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/04/plastic-straws-ocean-trash-environment/" target="_blank">catching so much flack lately</a>.</p><p>With more and more restaurants phasing out their plastic straws in response to customer backlash, having your own set to carry around is a good move if you don't want to give up that satisfying slurrrrp.</p><p>Reusable straws are becoming more and more mainstream and available in a variety of styles, colors, and materials. I love my stainless steel set, but there are also softer silicone versions for kids, glass straws that are like functional works of art in your cup, and even bamboo straws from <a href="https://donegood.ckmtrk.com/?a=2&c=5048&p=r&s1=influencer&s2=ecowatch&s3=ecowatch&s4=" target="_blank">bambu</a>!</p><p>Most sets come with a cute little brush to make it easy to clean the inside thoroughly. For use on the go, a quick rinse in the bathroom sink usually works just fine.</p>
Beeswax Wraps<p>Have you guys heard of these?</p><p>They're basically squares of cotton covered in a mixture of beeswax and resin. These simple ingredients combine to make a really awesome replacement for plastic wrap in your kitchen. You can use these wraps for covering bowls, wrapping up cheese, fruit, or that other half of your avocado. They can really do it all.</p><p>You can keep using and reusing them, rinsing with cool water in between uses. If they start to get a bit bare in places, you can even pop them in a low-temperature oven for a few minutes to redistribute the wax. Good as new!</p><p>They're way cuter than plastic wrap since they come in a variety of colors and prints. And once they come to the end of their useful life, they're fully biodegradable, and you can just pop them in your compost bin.</p><p><a href="https://donegood2.ckmtrk.com/?a=2&c=7153&p=r&s1=influencer&s2=ecowatch&s3=ecowatch&s4=" target="_blank">Earth Love</a> has some cute ones to get you started!</p>
Cloth Napkins<p>Put aside the paper napkins and paper towels. Cloth napkins are softer, prettier, and more eco-friendly than their paper counterparts. And they really require no more care than simply throwing them in with your next load of laundry.</p><p>Brands like <a href="http://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=888130&u=1337650&m=66802&urllink=&afftrack=" target="_blank">Ten Thousand Villages</a>, <a href="https://donegood2.ckmtrk.com/?a=2&c=4662&p=r&s1=influencer&s2=ecowatch&s3=ecowatch&s4=" target="_blank">Mayamam Weavers</a>, and <a href="https://donegood.ckmtrk.com/?a=2&c=196&p=r&s1=influencer&s2=ecowatch&s3=ecowatch&s4=" target="_blank">Fair + Simple</a> have tons of great options to choose from.</p><p>Buying a quality set of cloth napkins is an investment up front, but will save you money in the long run. Plus, you'll never have to scramble to make your table look presentable when you find out you'll be hosting some unexpected dinner guests!</p>
Tea Strainers<p>Now, you may be thinking, "<a href="https://www.compostthis.co.uk/tea" target="_blank">aren't tea bags biodegradable</a>?" and for the most part, they are. However, some tea bags can have little pieces of plastic holding them together that are obviously not great additions to your compost pile.</p><p>Also, if you buy loose leaf tea in bulk, you can avoid a lot of the excess packaging that comes with tea bags. I've seen some before that were individually wrapped and sealed in a plastic bag that of course went inside a cardboard box that was itself wrapped in a thin layer of plastic. It's ridiculous.</p><p>Loose leaf tea typically comes in ONE bag, or even better, a reusable tin.</p><p>It really doesn't take any longer to brew, and once you get the hang of it, it can become quite a pleasant morning ritual. </p><p>You will need a little bit of equipment, though, and that's where the tea strainer comes in.</p><p>If you're making more than one cup, it usually makes sense to brew it in a teapot by putting the tea and the water right in together. To prevent leaves getting into your cup, just top your mug with a tea strainer before you pour the brewed tea. <a href="https://donegood.ckmtrk.com/?a=2&c=5070&p=r&s1=influencer&s2=ecowatch&s3=ecowatch&s4=" target="_blank">Mountain Mel's</a> stocks a cute stainless steel strainer with a cutout moon and star pattern.</p><p>If you prefer to make it by the cup, the mug infuser from Mountain Mel's might be a better choice. Whichever method you choose, don't forget to compost your leftover leaves!</p>
By Coda Christopherson (11) and Lea Eider (15)
Growing up in a plastic-free home, I was sheltered from the plastic waste crisis. I (Coda) went to a very progressive school that had vegan lunch items, farm animals and ran on solar power. My mom produces zero-waste events and my dad is a sailor, so we're very passionate about the ocean. When I was nine years old, we moved back to Manhattan Beach, California and I started 3rd grade in a public school. This was the first time I really understood that plastic-free living is not the norm; single-use plastics were everywhere, especially in the cafeteria. Once I recognized this problem, I knew I had to make a difference.
Jeff Gritchen / Orange County Register<p>I knew that in order to succeed in eliminating plastic straws at schools I would need to educate and enlist my friends and they would need to educate and enlist their friends — just like how social media works. After talking with my friends, I met with my principal, Nancy Doyle, at Grand View Elementary School. I participated in a water assembly (my school is really cool!) to raise awareness and joined the Manhattan Beach Sustainability Youth Council. I created social media channels and began asking people to take the Strawless School Pledge to eliminate plastic straws in schools. I emailed the director of nutrition for my school district and she email me back, approving my request to eliminate plastic straws. It's not that hard to make a change in your community! Now, I'm planning how to eliminate plastics in other school districts in California.</p><p>Last year, I attended the 2018 <a href="http://oceanheroes.blue/" target="_blank">Ocean Heroes Bootcamp</a>, a global youth summit co-founded by Lonely Whale, Captain Planet Foundation and Point Break Foundation. The bootcamp equips participants with tools to develop campaigns to fight plastic pollution in their communities.</p><p>Ocean Heroes Bootcamp has been a great resource and I've learned many important things, especially the power of mentorship and the importance of communication. You need both to succeed and the past six months are proof that I could absolutely not run this campaign by myself. I am so grateful for the mentorship, leadership and support that I've received from Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, my school and my community. Something else I've learned from my experience, is the power of collaboration.</p><p>I hope to expand my campaign to other areas of California and the West Coast, impacting as many schools and people as possible. I think it's smart to work with others because you can create a bigger impact and reach a larger audience — plus, it's fun to work with others!</p>
Lea Eider.<p>Ocean Hero Lea is also working to eliminate single-use plastics in California. I (Lea) am scared for the future of the planet. I don't want to see the oceans ruined in my generation or my children's generation — we can only fix plastic pollution if everyone is conscious of the problem and working together to fix it.</p><p>I began targeting local businesses in Arcata, California by sending a poll to local restaurants. I asked the employees of each restaurant if they dispensed single-use plastic straws and if they gave out straws by request. After the word spread, the mayor of Arcata reached out and we arranged a meeting with her and another member of the Arcata City Council. After that, I spoke to the city council at public comment, asking them to ban single-use plastic straws. At the time, the city was forming a Zero Waste Task Force and felt that any future ordinances pertaining to straws and other plastics should be proposed by the Task Force. I applied and got appointed to Arcata's Zero Waste Task Force, and I'll definitely be bringing up the issues of single-use plastics in California. At the end of 2019, we'll be suggesting legislation to the city council and it is my hope that all restaurants in the city will eliminate plastic straws. Unfortunately, it is isn't happening as quickly as I hoped — changing legislation is a lot harder than I'd imagined!</p><p>While that process is taking place, I'm working on a curriculum to educate elementary students about reducing their plastic waste. I want to promote reduction and reuse, so a big focus will be on the flaws of the system. As cliche as it sounds, my generation is going to inherit the world, and we should know how to take care of it. I didn't fully realize the impact of single-use plastics, like plastic water bottles until I attended <a href="http://oceanheroes.blue/" target="_blank">Ocean Heroes Bootcamp</a>. I immediately convinced my parents to get me a reusable water bottle and it was an easy transition that can have a huge impact on our planet. I want to help kids in schools make the same change I did, and if I talk to them while they're young, maybe I can teach them healthy habits that they can continue throughout their whole lives.</p><p>I wouldn't have been able to start my campaign if I hadn't gone to the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp. With their support and guidance, I learned how to put together a pitch, which guided me when talking to the Arcata City Council, and I was connected with resources and experts that offered help with my campaign.</p><p>Collaboration is a skill that I want to further develop. I know that a group can accomplish more than a single person, but I'm used to working alone. I'd like to hear other Ocean Heroes' ideas and thoughts. If we share our effective strategies for eliminating plastic waste, we can help each other with our campaigns, even by simply supporting other campaigns through social media.</p><p>It's important to have kids act as voices of our generation — we're going to inherit the world, and we want a say in the world we're going to get. I (Coda) think youth activism is important because kids are the future leaders of the world. Kids are more passionate, imaginative and optimistic than adults, so why can't change come from us?</p><p><a href="http://oceanheroes.blue/" target="_blank">Ocean Heroes Bootcamp</a> 2019 is quickly approaching. I (Coda) am hoping to learn more leadership and communication skills, as well as opportunities for collaboration. Ocean Heroes Bootcamp 2018 was the first time I ever spoke publicly! I had no idea that I was capable of doing that but the experience gave me the confidence to step up as a leader and create my own campaign. I never want to stop learning, so this next bootcamp cannot come soon enough. I (Lea) hope to learn more ways to utilize social media as a tool for my campaign to increase awareness. I also want to learn how to work with others to make the greatest impact in California. For example, I'd love to expand my campaign but I live in a pretty rural and isolated area so this can be difficult. If I had someone else to help expand it and spread the word, I could accomplish more outside of my community.</p><p>The 2019 Ocean Heroes Bootcamp is open for registration <a href="http://oceanheroes.blue/" target="_blank">here</a>. The three-day event is free to attend, including room and board, for accepted youth ages 11-18 and their chaperones.</p>
- How We're Collaborating to Eliminate Plastic in Washington DC ... ›
- Trader Joe's Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics Nationwide Following ... ›
- Whale Dies After Swallowing 88 Pounds of Plastic Bags - EcoWatch ›
- Straws Made of Seaweed Could Replace Their Plastic Nemesis ... ›
& 9 Tips for Using What You Have
By Jazmine Velasquez
My family's defining motto is "Siempre usa como lo que tienes." ("Always use what you have.") Mom and grandma have used the expression so many times, I hear their voices every time I want to get a $15 poke bowl after class but have leftovers in the fridge at home. I hear them when I have the urge to buy new clothes that I don't need or get a nice notebook when I already have too many. This impulse becomes even stronger when I cook, because for my family, food is love and not to be wasted.
- The 18 Best Healthy Foods to Buy in Bulk (And the Worst) - EcoWatch ›
- Is the Future of Grocery Shopping B.Y.O. Container? - EcoWatch ›
- zero waste ›
By Jeff Turrentine
If you think this is going to be yet another column admonishing you for not doing enough to curb the amount of single-use plastic in our waste stream, you can relax. You don't need a lecture at this point.
1. Dried Beans and Lentils<p>Dried <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthiest-beans-legumes" target="_blank">beans and lentils</a> are one of the most shelf-stable foods.</p><p>The term "shelf-stable" refers to foods that can be stored at room temperature for an extended period before going bad.</p><p>Though storing beans and lentils may lead to degradation of certain nutrients over time, some studies have shown that some beans remain edible for 10 or more years (<a href="https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1062&context=facpub" target="_blank">1</a>, <a href="https://extension.usu.edu/foodstorage/howdoi/dry_beans" target="_blank">2</a>).</p><p>Beans and lentils are high in <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/why-is-fiber-good-for-you" target="_blank">fiber</a>, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, making them a healthy bulk shopping choice.</p><p>What's more, they can be added to a wide variety of dishes, such as soups, curries, stews and salads.</p>
2. Frozen Berries<p>Though delicious and nutritious, fresh berries can be expensive and highly perishable.</p><p>Thankfully, frozen <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-healthy-berries" target="_blank">berries</a> are similar in nutritional value to fresh berries and can be purchased in bulk at lower prices (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25526594" target="_blank">3</a>).</p><p>Harvesting then quickly freezing berries prolongs shelf life and maintains the nutritional content of fresh berries (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4632771/" target="_blank">4</a>).</p><p>According to the USDA, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables" target="_blank">frozen fruit</a> like berries can be safely stored in the freezer for up to six months (<a href="https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/foodkeeperapp/index.html" target="_blank">5</a>).</p><p>Adding berries to your diet can benefit health in many ways, including lowering your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes and mental decline (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25781639" target="_blank">6</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4804301/" target="_blank">7</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5687726/" target="_blank">8</a>).</p>
3. Frozen Meat and Poultry<p>Because fresh meat and poultry spoil quickly when stored in the refrigerator, freezing them is an excellent way to avoid food waste.</p><p>According to the USDA FoodKeeper app, frozen meat like steak can last in the freezer for up to 12 months while <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-in-chicken" target="_blank">chicken breast</a> can last up to nine months.</p><p>Freezing protein sources immediately after purchase can extend usability so that you don't have to run to the store every time you need meat or poultry for a recipe.</p>
4. Frozen Vegetables<p>Like fresh berries and other types of fruit, fresh vegetables tend to spoil quickly, even when properly stored.</p><p>For this reason, stocking up on frozen vegetables like spinach, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-broccoli" target="_blank">broccoli</a> and butternut squash is a good idea, as most can be stored in the freezer for up to eight months.</p><p>Vegetables are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/14-healthiest-vegetables-on-earth" target="_blank">packed with nutrients</a>, which is why diets that include both fresh and frozen vegetables have been linked to numerous health benefits.</p><p>For example, people who have higher vegetable intake have a lower risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes than those who consume small amounts of vegetables (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649719/" target="_blank">9</a>).</p>
5. Honey<p>Although honey is often thought to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/does-honey-go-bad" target="_blank">stay edible indefinitely</a>, some factors can impact its quality and decrease its shelf life.</p><p>Storage conditions, including heat and humidity, can affect the aroma, texture and flavor of honey, making its shelf life hard to determine (<a href="https://www.bjcp.org/mead/shelf.pdf" target="_blank">10</a>).</p><p>Because there is no way to define an expiration date for all types of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-honey" target="_blank">honey</a> due to differences in storage, the National Honey Board recommends storing honey for up to two years.</p><p>This is still an amazingly long shelf life, making honey the perfect item to buy in bulk.</p>
6. Oats<p>Not only are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-benefits-oats-oatmeal" target="_blank">oats</a> a versatile and healthy grain, but they also happen to have a lengthy shelf life.</p><p>The FoodKeeper app states that fresh oats can be stored for up to four months in the pantry.</p><p>Freezing oats in airtight containers can further extend their shelf life, tacking on another four months to their expiration date.</p><p>Oats are high in B vitamins, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-magnesium-benefits" target="_blank">magnesium</a> and zinc, as well as a particular type of fiber called beta-glucan, which may help lower cholesterol, reduce blood sugar levels and increase feelings of fullness (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5508646/" target="_blank">11</a>, <a href="https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5708/2" target="_blank">12</a>).</p>
7. Dried Fruits<p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dried-fruit-good-or-bad" target="_blank">Dried fruit</a> is highly nutritious and contains an impressive amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21229417" target="_blank">13</a>).</p><p>What's more, it's a healthy pantry item that has a much longer shelf life than fresh fruit.</p><p>Dried fruits like mangos, cranberries and apricots can be stored for up to six months. After opening, storing them in the refrigerator will allow them to last another six months.</p><p>Keep in mind that dried fruit is higher in calories and sugar than fresh fruit and should be eaten in small amounts. Choose unsweetened dried fruit whenever possible to limit <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sugar-the-worst-ingredient-in-the-diet" target="_blank">added sugar</a>intake.</p>
8. Nuts in the Shell<p>Nuts in the shell last much longer than shelled nuts, making them a great choice for long-term storage.</p><p>In most cases, purchasing nuts in the shell extends their shelf life.</p><p>For example, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-proven-benefits-of-almonds" target="_blank">almonds</a> in the shell will keep for up to six months when stored at 68℉ (20℃), while shelled almonds only last four months when stored at the same temperature (<a href="http://ucanr.edu/datastoreFiles/234-2753.pdf" target="_blank">14</a>).</p><p>Purchase nuts like almonds, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-walnuts" target="_blank">walnuts</a>, peanuts and pecans in the shell and crack them with a nutcracker as needed.</p><p>An extra benefit of nuts in the shell is that it takes more time and effort to prepare them than shelled nuts, which may slow eating and lead to a reduction in calorie intake.</p>
9. Certain Whole Grains<p>Certain <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-benefits-of-whole-grains" target="_blank">whole grains</a> such as farro, spelt, wild rice, quinoa and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/amaranth-health-benefits" target="_blank">amaranth</a> have surprisingly long shelf lives.</p><p>For instance, according to the FoodKeeper app, uncooked quinoa can last for up to three years when stored correctly in a pantry.</p><p>Whole grains make excellent additions to any meal, providing a hearty source of fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and powerful plant compounds that all benefit health (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4908313/" target="_blank">15</a>).</p><p>Another reason to stock up on whole grains is that they are among the most versatile of all ingredients and can be added to breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.</p>
10. Popcorn<p>Whole <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/popcorn-nutrition-and-health" target="_blank">popcorn</a> can be purchased in bulk and stored for up to two years at room temperature.</p><p>Unlike packaged instant popcorn that contains unhealthy ingredients like harmful additives and unhealthy fats, whole popcorn is entirely natural.</p><p>Not to mention, preparing your own popcorn is fun and allows you to control the ingredients you consume.</p><p>Plus, popcorn is high in fiber, phosphorus, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/manganese-benefits" target="_blank">manganese</a>, zinc and polyphenol antioxidants, making it a healthy snack when consumed in moderation (<a href="https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/snacks/5356/2" target="_blank">16</a>).</p>
11. Dried Pasta<p>Unlike fresh <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-pasta-healthy" target="_blank">pasta</a>, which needs to be cooked within a few days, dried pasta can be stored for up to two years.</p><p>Whole wheat pasta makes a better choice than refined white pasta since it is lower in calories and higher in certain nutrients, including fiber, manganese and magnesium (<a href="https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5784/2" target="_blank">17</a>).</p><p>For those who can't tolerate the gluten found in wheat-based pasta, brown rice pasta and pasta made from <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-gluten-free-grains" target="_blank">gluten-free grains</a> are healthy alternatives with similar shelf lives.</p><p>Different types of pasta can be found in the bulk section of grocery stores and are typically offered at discounted rates.</p>
12. Coconut Oil<p>Many fats can't be stored long-term due to the risk of oxidation, which can lead to spoilage.</p><p>However, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil" target="_blank">coconut oil</a> has a much longer shelf life and is more resistant to oxidation than other vegetable oils (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325013" target="_blank">18</a>).</p><p>Plus, unrefined virgin coconut oil contains powerful antioxidants that are thought to help protect the oil from spoilage (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6060898/" target="_blank">19</a>).</p><p>Storage times can vary depending on temperature and light exposure, but the FoodKeeper app suggests that coconut oil stored in a cool, dark place should last up to three years.</p><p>Coconut oil can be used in cooking, baking and skin care.</p>
13. Chia Seeds<p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds" target="_blank">Chia seeds</a> are often referred to as a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/true-superfoods" target="_blank">superfood</a> due to their impressive concentration of omega-3 fats, fiber, magnesium, calcium and antioxidants (<a href="https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2" target="_blank">20</a>).</p><p>While chia seeds are nutritious, they also tend to be expensive.</p><p>Thankfully, chia seeds purchased in bulk are usually lower in price than chia seeds bought in smaller quantities.</p><p>What's more, chia seeds have a long shelf life of around 18 months when stored in a cool, dark location.</p>
14. Peanut Butter<p>With its creamy texture and satisfying taste, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-peanut-butter-bad-for-you" target="_blank">peanut butter</a> is a staple item in most people's pantries.</p><p>Buying peanut butter in large jars is more economical since bulk peanut butter is sold at a discounted rate.</p><p>Peanut butter is an excellent source of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-for-vegans-vegetarians" target="_blank">plant-based protein</a>, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals and can be used in many ways (<a href="https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/589823/2" target="_blank">21</a>).</p><p>Natural peanut butter is healthier than processed brands that contain added sugar and hydrogenated oils.</p><p>Keep unopened natural peanut butter in the fridge to keep it fresh for up to 12 months. After opening, expect your peanut butter to last about three to four months in the refrigerator.</p>
15. Greens Powders<p>Getting in enough greens can be a challenge for some people.</p><p>What's more, fresh greens need to be used within a few days before they start to degrade.</p><p>Greens powders are nutritional supplements made from dried, pulverized greens like <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-kale" target="_blank">kale</a>, spinach and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/wheatgrass-benefits" target="_blank">wheatgrass</a>.</p><p>Not only are greens powders highly nutritious, but most brands will also stay fresh in the refrigerator or freezer after opening for up to two years.</p><p>Buying greens powder in bulk sizes will ensure that you have a long-lasting supply of this healthy product to add to smoothies, yogurt and other recipes.</p>
16. Protein Powders<p>High-quality <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-protein-powder" target="_blank">protein powders</a> can be costly.</p><p>However, most companies offer larger containers of various protein powders at cheaper price points.</p><p>Since most people who use protein powder do so on a regular basis, buying large amounts at a lower cost is a smart way to save money.</p><p>Some of the most popular protein powders, including <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-whey-protein" target="_blank">whey</a> and pea protein, typically expire around 8–18 months after purchase (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26778305" target="_blank">22</a>).</p>
17. Apple Cider Vinegar<p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-proven-health-benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar" target="_blank">Apple cider vinegar</a> is a multipurpose ingredient that can be used both in food and as a natural cleaning agent.</p><p>Because of its versatility, apple cider vinegar can be used up quickly, especially by those who rely on it as a cleaning agent.</p><p>Thankfully, apple cider vinegar is sold in large containers that can last up to five years when stored at room temperature (<a href="https://bragg.com/products/acvFAQ.html" target="_blank">23</a>).</p><p>What's more, apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties and has even been shown to reduce blood sugar and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/apple-cider-vinegar-weight-loss" target="_blank">promote weight loss</a> (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19661687" target="_blank">24</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17712024" target="_blank">25</a>).</p>
18. Nutritional Yeast<p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/nutritional-yeast" target="_blank">Nutritional yeast</a> packs a powerful dose of nutrients and is especially popular with those following plant-based diets.</p><p>Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-benefits" target="_blank">vitamin B12</a>, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, magnesium, zinc and protein (<a href="https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/1323565/2" target="_blank">26</a>).</p><p>It has a savory, cheese-like flavor and can be added to dishes for a nutrient boost.</p><p>Nutritional yeast can be purchased in bulk at lower prices than smaller containers and has a shelf life of up to two years.</p>
Worst Foods to Purchase in Bulk<p>It's a smart choice to purchase some foods in large quantities to save money. However, the following foods are more perishable and should only be purchased in small amounts.</p><h3>Fresh Fruits and Vegetables</h3><p>If you regularly buy fresh produce, chances are you've found a rotten veggie or fruit in your fridge that hadn't been used in time.</p><p>While there are exceptions, many fresh fruits and vegetables, such as berries, zucchini and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/leafy-green-vegetables" target="_blank">greens</a>, have a shelf life of less than a week before they begin to rot.</p><p>When buying fresh fruits and vegetables, only purchase what you know you will use within the coming week to avoid food waste.</p><h3>Oils</h3><p>While saturated oils like coconut oil and palm oil store well, other oils should not be purchased in bulk.</p><p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-vegetable-and-seed-oils-bad" target="_blank">Vegetable oils</a> that contain high amounts of polyunsaturated fats like safflower, soybean and sunflower oils are more susceptible to oxidation, especially when stored in clear glass or plastic containers (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3722409/" target="_blank">27</a>).</p><p>Oils high in polyunsaturated fats should only be purchased in small quantities and stored in cool, dark locations to prevent oxidation.</p><h3>Eggs</h3><p>Large discount stores often sell <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-health-benefits-of-eggs" target="_blank">eggs</a> in bulk at discounted prices.</p><p>If you have a large family that eats eggs daily, then buying in bulk may be economical.</p><p>However, those who rarely eat eggs and those with small households may not be able to finish a few dozen eggs before their expiration date of three to five weeks (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22417448" target="_blank">28</a>).</p><h3>Flour</h3><p>To avoid spoilage, white, whole-wheat and nut-based flours should not be purchased in bulk.</p><p>Whole-wheat flour has a shelf life of as little as three months, while white flour can start to spoil after six months.</p><p>Certain nut-based flours are even more susceptible to spoilage and should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.</p><h3>Spices</h3><p>Because <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-healthy-herbs-and-spices" target="_blank">spices</a> are used in small amounts, it's best to avoid buying bulk containers.</p><p>Spices can lose their potency over time and should be replaced as often as every 6–12 months for optimal flavor.</p><h3>Prepared Foods</h3><p>Don't be tempted to stock up on your favorite prepared foods when on sale unless you plan on eating the items quickly.</p><p>Dishes like egg salad, chicken salad and cooked pasta only last a few days in the fridge.</p><p>What's more, eating prepared foods past their expiration date can put you in danger of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-cause-food-poisoning" target="_blank">foodborne illness</a> (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3774461/" target="_blank">29</a>).</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>While it makes sense to buy some items in bulk, foods like oils, eggs, fresh produce, flour, spices and prepared food should only be bought in small quantities.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>Many healthy foods can be purchased in bulk at discounted prices.</p><p>Dried beans, oats, frozen poultry, peanut butter and frozen fruits and vegetables are some examples of nutritious items that have long shelf lives.</p><p>These foods can be stored in the pantry, freezer or fridge for many months, which is why purchasing them in bulk is a smart choice.</p><p>However, buying perishable products like fresh produce and eggs should be avoided to cut back on food waste and avoid consuming spoiled foods.</p><p>Stock up on nutritious, non-perishable bulk items to ensure that you always have ingredients available to make healthy, delicious meals and snacks.</p>
By Meredith Rosenberg
Disposable items have become so ingrained in our daily habits that we may not realize all of the small, everyday actions that are adding to the amount of disposable waste that ends up in oceans and landfills. Here are five lifestyle changes you can make today to ditch the disposables and reduce your environmental impact.
By Meredith Rosenberg
In early October, the United Nations released a climate change report forewarning of global catastrophes (severe flooding, wildfires, droughts) that could begin by 2040 unless drastic changes are made to reduce greenhouse gases. It might seem like a daunting task, but here are five lifestyle changes you can make right now to start reducing your carbon footprint. If you really want to help the planet, follow the next-level suggestions to make the biggest impact.
If you wear bras, chances are you haven't thought too much about their environmental impact. But bras can be made from a variety of unsustainable materials, from water-intensive cotton, to spandex, to petroleum-based polyurethane foam for padding. So once they're tossed, these synthetic fabrics will sit in landfills and take forever to disappear.
It's no wonder Australian lingerie designer Stephanie Devine launched The Very Good Bra, the world's first zero-waste bra.
By Marlene Cimons
How often do you swap out your old smartphone for a new one? Every two or three years? Every year? Today, phone companies make it easy with deals to trade in your old phone for the newest version. But those discarded phones are becoming a huge source of waste, with many components ending up in landfills or incinerators.
When a cell phone gets tossed, only a few materials get recycled, mostly useful metals like gold, silver, copper and palladium, which can be used in manufacturing other products. But other materials—especially fiberglass and resins—which make up the bulk of cell phones' circuit boards, often end up at sites where they can leak dangerous chemicals into our groundwater, soil and air.