Julie Cross: saving the planet from home

Julie Cross: saving the planet from home

Climate change, dear reader, is real. What can we do? While it’s clear that many of the drivers of this change are beyond our individual control, that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything! Collective action is a remarkable thing, and there are a number of small actions each of us can take to help. A few of mine focused on home economics are listed here.

Some readers are no doubt already doing some of these things. Others of you will look at this list and think each item is just too heavy – in that case, please choose the one that has other benefits that interest you (saving money is always preferred) and commit. you to try it for a month. Everyone has to start from where they are, but at this point everyone really gotta start!


* Choose your coffee wisely! Ethically sourced shade-grown coffee may seem like overkill, but your support of companies like Pachamama and Equal Exchange can have far-reaching environmental and socio-economic effects in other countries. This is one of the places where we can use our privilege to benefit everyone.

* Change your coffee pod. K pods and Nespresso pods are technically recyclable. Nespresso has a mail-back program for its pods, which are aluminum and therefore quite desirable in terms of recycling. K-pods need to be disassembled so you can throw the plastic into recycling, and recycled plastic sales are pretty bleak now.

If you have a Nespresso machine, order a mailbag and move on. If you have Keurig, consider switching to a reusable pod, which will also save you money and allow you to use your choice of coffee.

* Back to drip coffee. When it’s time to use your next coffee machine, consider retiring from machines, which tend to break down quickly. A properly sized drip filter and thermos combo will deliver great coffee for decades. Paper filters with the grounds can go straight into your compost bucket.

* Take your coffee with you instead of buying it. If you stop every day for a coffee at the Giant Coffee Shop on your way to work, you will end up generating a lot of landfills. You’ll also spend around 30 hours a year waiting in line, and who has that time? Fill up this travel mug and get 10 more minutes of sleep!

food waste

*Buy in bulk, for coffee and whatever else you can. Not only do you save on packaging, but you can get exactly the amount you need to avoid waste. Both Nugget Market and the Co-op have great bulk food sections. Davis Refinery has a huge selection of cleaning and beauty products as well as some fantastic household items, and they will deliver to you.

Next time you’re in Sacramento, check out Of Land and Sea Co., which has a great selection of bulk items as well as plenty of sustainable options, and The All-Spicery, which has an absolutely amazing line of spices, of teas, dried vegetables and more.

* Invest in a vacuum sealer and reusable bags. We have a tiny one that charges via USB and we’ve thrown away exactly 1 bag in the 16 months we’ve used it. The twelve kinds of cheese in the cheese drawer are stored in vacuum sealed bags, and we no longer need to stir the cheese because it is moldy.

Opened crackers, cookies and cereals are sealed so they never perish; leftovers and excess fruit are frozen then sealed to prevent freezer damage. As a bonus, they are sous vide bags, which means leftovers can go in a pot of hot water to reheat.

* Check the temperature of your refrigerator. Use a thermometer and check several areas. A fridge that is too cold can freeze and spoil food (alas, the poor lettuce). A fridge that’s too hot means milk goes out before its expiration date, or even food poisoning. Aim for 36-38 degrees.


* We are incredibly lucky to have the Davis Farmers Market. There’s nothing better for the environment (or your mouth) than buying directly from local farmers. An hour spent on a Saturday morning can net you bread, all the vegetables and fruits you could hope for, locally raised meat, and untold side effects of happiness. Again, this is a place where we can make the best use of our privilege – the more people buying at the market, the more profitable it is for the farmers, the better they can supply us.

* We are also extremely lucky that local restaurants are booming and new restaurants are coming online. Local restaurants have a vested interest in using local produce, buying from local farmers, and keeping local money. Hikari Omakase opened its doors recently with a real commitment to sustainable seafood and fantastic cuisine. Bones Craft Kitchen is also new to the Davis scene and offers regular Farmer’s Market items as well as vegan options.

Mabel’s Farm Box, found at the Saturday Market and Thursdays in the Davisphere, does a fantastic job of sourcing picnic boxes locally with increasingly sustainable packaging – even going so far as to manufacture handmade wooden cutting boards. (Advanced work: Carry a container in your backpack for leftovers when you go out.)

* When you go to the grocery store, think about the packaging. For example, conventional milk cartons can be used to hold compost waste and go straight into the compost; plastic milk jugs can go for recycling; glass milk bottles can be returned for reuse; aseptic cartons must go to landfill.

* Sometimes the most sustainable choice is to buy nothing. Yolo County has several Buy Nothing Facebook groups where people donate items they can no longer use. It’s a friendly way to share abundance instead of filling the landfill. I managed to offer a couch and an abundance of food that my cats couldn’t eat.

Choice of food

* See which processed foods you can eliminate. The more a food is processed, the more harmful it is to the environment in terms of factory emissions, transport and packaging. Most of us aren’t going to cut out processed foods, but maybe we can bake cookies instead of buying a tube.

* Reduce meat in your diet. Reduce it a lot. Not only is it healthier for you, it’s also healthier for the planet. Try not to replace it with “meat alternatives” which are (all together, now) processed foods. Beans and whole grains are fantastic protein sources loaded with nutrition. Eggs and cheese are less sustainable, but good shopping choices can make them viable sources of protein.

* Date your remains. We keep tape and a pen near the fridge. Take-out or restaurant leftovers should be consumed within two to three days. Foods you prepare at home are usually good for a week if refrigerated quickly.

* Learn to cook. Or at least develop some recipes that use leftovers. A friend of mine uses leftover french fries as a potato component in breakfast tacos. Small chunks of cheese can make a fantastic mac and cheese, and you can also add leftover broccoli or cauliflower. A quiche or frittata consumes all kinds of leftovers.

Use energy wisely

* Now that it’s almost done, consider refilling the oven every time you use it. Why waste perfectly good heat when you can cook potatoes (twice-baked potatoes, gnocchi), roast vegetables (toss with dressing for a salad, stuff enchiladas), cook rice (fried rice, arancinini), etc. ?

* I work in a large building, and I’m always shocked when people run the water while they’re washing their hands. Get in the habit of turning off the water whenever you’re not using it. It’s simple and increasingly critical. Advanced work: google Navy Shower

* Turn off the lights. Put on a sweater. Stop idling your car online for coffee. Get on your bike. You have this!

— Email Julie at jacross@dcn.org Where visit him on Facebook at The New Home Ec.

#Julie #Cross #saving #planet #home

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