Lessons We’ve Learned for Earth Day

by Rona Berg

One thing I’ve been hearing over and over throughout the pandemic, from folks around the nation, is how they are learning not to waste anything. Another lesson worth celebrating, especially on Earth Day: the realization that we don’t “need” as much as we think we do.

Here are a few tips and observations that may qualify as a “silver lining,” or “lessons learned” from this terrible moment in history that we are all living through.

No one is wasting food.

The other day, I made two batches of chicken stock from the same chicken carcass, and both were delicious. You can also use vegetable scraps, stems, peel and heels to make a tasty veggie broth. Planning meals in advance helps to work toward zero-food waste. “I find that I am really thinking more about the food I purchase,” says Gina Preziosa, Senior VP Sales and Marketing, Shankara. “I know that it has to last a certain amount of time, and I don’t want to waste anything. Since there are no restaurants open, we are eating home and being more conscious of not throwing anything away.”

With paper towels in short supply

 I’ve been using--and reusing--cloth rags to clean surfaces that I would have cleaned with paper towels in the past. Now, when I’m finished with a rag, it goes into the wash, and I reuse it repeatedly. I also look for rinse-free products, like Shankara’s new  Pure Clean Hand Gel. You save paper towels, because there is no need to dry your hands, and save water. 

Reuse your sponges

When your kitchen sponges get too dirty, instead of tossing them, you can throw these into the wash, too. 

Rinse out Zip-Loc bags

As much as I am not a fan of plastic bags, these do come in handy when we’re throwing away outer packaging, as we are these days, and need to store the contents: flour, grains, berries bound for the freezer. When this pandemic is over, it will be easy to revert back to glass jars and compostable containers that may be difficult to source right now. Meanwhile, you can get a lot of mileage from just a few bags, if you turn them inside out when the contents are used up, rinse them out, leave them in the sun to dry and reuse. 

Compost, compost, compost

“We became fanatical about composting,” says Jenefer Palmer, founder/Chief Seaweed Officer,OSEA. “We even bought a larger composter and finally planted a garden.” Coffee grinds are especially great for the garden, she adds.  

Plant, and re-plant 

As people realize they can become more self-sufficient, long-term, by growing their own food, more are starting to plant a Victory Garden, which is ”a vegetable garden, especially a home garden, planted to increase food production during a war.” In some cases, people are “re-growing,” i.e., putting the heel of a head of romaine lettuce or the roots of green onions in water, and watching them sprout new life. Palmer has begun sprouting green onions: “you cover the green onion roots in water, change water every couple of days and within seven to nine days you have more green onions”! 

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