Tag: plant-based

Five Favorite Foods: Bananas, Cauliflower, Japanese Sweet Potatoes, Popcorn, Olives

When is a banana not simply a banana? Which food (on my least-favorite food list) is an animalogy? How many ways can you eat cauliflower? Which olive was my “gateway olive” to loving olives? How (strangely) do I eat popcorn? Answers to these and many more questions, particularly, “what are your favorite foods?” can be found within. Grab some popcorn balls and take a listen, then let me know your food favorites and food quirks!

PLEASE SHARE AND COMMENT (especially if you eat popcorn balls!) 🙂

Turkeys Need You More After Thanksgiving!

Every year as Thanksgiving approaches, we’re bombarded by recipes for every means and method of stuffing, brining, and roasting turkeys. At the same time, vegetarians, vegans, and animal advocates desperately try to rise above the din and urge the public to leave the turkey off the menu in favor of plant-based sides and mains.

The problem is that by the time these well-intentioned campaigns begin, it’s already too late.

Not only do most people not want to forego their butter-basted bird, by October — and certainly by November — 45 million turkeys will have already been brought into this world, confined, de-toed, slaughtered, eviscerated, trussed, and frozen.

With another 22 million turkeys killed for Christmas and with an unnaturally short gestation-to-slaughter period of about 5 months, the time to start talking about behavior changes is long before the artificial insemination of turkeys begins (spring/summer).

BUT THIS IS WHERE I HAVE HOPE!

What we do today and the weeks and months that follow will have a direct impact on the animals we’re choosing not to eat tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

SO START NOW! Even if you eat turkey this Thanksgiving, make a pledge to leave turkey off your plate next year by starting today! (And let this be your message to friends and family this holiday season.)

[Tweet “Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything.”]

Hone your skills NOW and be prepared for the days ahead. Here are some tips to guide you:

  • Proclaim your pledge. Research shows that by simply stating your intention to do something new increases the likelihood that you’ll actually do it.
  • Recruit help. Tap into the knowledge and passion of your friendly neighborhood vegan, or take The 30-Day Vegan Challenge (the price is reduced for the online program, and a gift option is now available! (Alternatively, the book is a fantastic resource!)
  • Try some new plant-based products! Once you start looking, you’ll be amazed at what you see!
  • Practice new recipes nowWe all rotate the same dishes again and again! See what you make that’s already plant-based, make easy switches for others (plant-based milks and butter in place of dairy, for instance), and then try a couple new recipes. (You know I’m going to point you to my favorite cookbooks, right?)

As you commit to making this change for the coming days, may you find that this holiday is enhanced by creating food-based rituals that affirm rather than take life and that celebrate the fact that neither our values nor 45 million animals need be sacrificed in order to celebrate a single holiday meal.

It’s never too early to start planning for a compassionate future.

Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything.

The Last Thanksgiving Turkey

Every year as Thanksgiving approaches, it seems there isn’t a magazine, newspaper, or website that doesn’t feature recipes for every means and method of stuffing, brining, and roasting turkeys. And every year, vegetarians, vegans, and animal advocates urge the public (and their family members) to leave the turkey off the menu in favor of plant-based sides and mains.

The problem is that by the time these well-intentioned campaigns begin, it’s already too late. 

But there is hope. Try this, instead!

We’re veganizing the south of France!

Arranging incredible meals for all our vegan travelers is 10x easier in Rwanda than it is in France.

We have officially sold out of our December 2020 Botswana trip (where it’s ALSO easier to eat plant-based than France — especially rural France). Which is why…our Summer-in-the-South-of-France Vegan Trips in June/July 2020 are going to be off the hook!

Everything non-vegans eat vegans will eat BETTER! We mean EVERYTHING that is seasonal and regional, we arrange vegan versions of!

We also take over our very own 4-star villa. We visit the world-famous Lascaux cave to see the replicas of 17,000 years-old animal paintings!!! We have a special private visit the first European elephant sanctuary! Castles, river boat ride, wineries and vineyards, and so much more!

Our Summer in France trips are now starting to sell out, and I hope you visit the details on our website to see if you can join us. There’s one more month to sign up, and if the trip is not a go, of course you get 100% of your money back. It’s a win-win situation!

For the animals…CPG

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How Wildlife is Recovering After Genocide

The 1994 genocide against the Tutsis devastated this beautiful country, its people, its wildlife, and its wild spaces. But with vigilance, persistence, vision, courage, and strength, they are recovering.⁠ When Akagera National Park was created in 1934, it was one of the best wildlife reserves in all of Africa. ⁠

⁠Once spanning almost 1,000 square miles, sadly, in 1997, it was reduced in size by almost 50%. A large portion of the land was reallocated to refugees to Rwanda after the genocide. Before 1997, many refugees returning to Rwanda settled in the area, and the conservation area was harmed by poaching and cultivation. ⁠

⁠I so look forward to telling you more about the work they’re doing, the animals they’ve reintroduced, the conservation measures they’re taking, and the rhinos (!) who have just safely arrived from zoos in three different countries who will now live out their natural lives in the wild. ⁠

⁠On our first trip to Rwanda, we didn’t have the chance to visit Akagera, but we were so thrilled to make it part of our CPG Vegan Rwanda Trips. We saw zebra, warthogs, impala, cape buffalo, waterbucks, and many more mammals and birds. The highlight of the day was probably seeing a ⁠pod of hippos emerge from the water to the beach. ⁠

⁠People can heal. Animals can recover. Land can be restored. Rwanda teaches this lesson better than any other country I’ve seen. ⁠

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*Birds, waterbuck photos by Julie Morgan
*Hippos, zebra, impala, and alligator photos by Lynda Kluck
*Hippos, zebra, impala, and elephant photos by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

My Husband Wasn’t Vegan When I Met Him

No, my husband wasn’t vegan when I met him. I was pescatarian on the verge of vegetarian, and he was a meat-eater. If I hadn’t dated David because he wasn’t vegan, I would have missed out dating and then marrying the most giving, generous, compassionate, kind, patient person I know (25 years ago). Because of those qualities, he became vegan a few months after I did. ⠀

Don’t let someone “being vegan” to be your barometer for getting to know them or for dating them. You will narrow down your pool considerably. Let character, integrity, compassion, and openness be your barometers. And, likewise, be as open, compassionate, and full of integrity as you expect others to be.

The Animals Among Us

The wild animals who live among us are part of our communities; they’re residents and contributors — not outsiders or intruders. Our assault on them can be viewed as harbingers of our larger environmental destiny. If we can’t attend to the animals in our own backyards, the long-term chances for biological diversity in the rest of this world are bleak.⠀

Every animal whose space we share in our neighborhoods — from the diurnal deer (like Atticus here!), squirrels, bees, and birds to the nocturnal foxes, skunks, rats, raccoons, mountain lions, and opossums — face challenges that threaten their very survival every day: noisy leaf-blowers and unleashed dogs, speeding cars and light pollution, rampant habitat loss, and a human species so hostile to their existence we install non-native landscapes they can’t eat, delicious plants they love but are hindered from or punished for eating, and fences that inhibit their ability to travel freely to find food, water, or shelter. ⠀

Biological diversity is declining at alarming rates, and since the underlying cause is easy to identify (human behavior) the underlying solutions are equally apparent. ⠀

A few changes can make all the difference. We can:⠀

*Give plant-eaters a break. Newly planted trees and shrubs WILL be tested by hungry deer, but just keeping new plants protected for the first few years means they can withstand a little nibbling once they’re more mature. ⠀

*Stop poisoning rats. If not because there are more humane ways to deal with uninvited critters in our homes, then because rat poison hurts everyone in the food web. ⠀

*Create wildlife corridors to allow animals to move freely through our yards without risking the dangers of the road. ⠀
⠀⠀
Everything we do has an impact on something or someone else. It’s not that we CAN make a difference in this world. It’s that we DO make a difference. The question is: do we want that difference to be negative or positive?⠀

What are you doing today to make a positive difference?

The Vegan Police: How to Speak Up for Animals without Talking Down to People

A small subset of opinionated, passionate, well-intentioned people perpetuate the stereotype of the angry, self-righteous, perfection-focused animal rights vegan when they spew invective at anyone who is not “vegan enough” in their eyes. They are otherwise known as The Vegan Police.

Of course I’m very well aware of how judgmental people can be — we’re all guilty of it — and nothing tastes better than sweet self-righteousness, especially when it exists in the name of justice. But self-righteousness,  arrogance, and meanness are just ugly regardless of what inspires them. And of course I’ve been keenly aware of the existence of the perfectionist vegan for as long as I’ve been vegan — probably since before I was vegan.

But I’ve been seeing it so much more invective on social media – not much of it directly because I won’t venture into territory that is filled with self-righteousness and piety and name-calling.  But I’m hearing about it a lot more because my audience comes to me and tells me what they see and hear, and frankly…forgive my naivete,  I find it shocking. I’m shocked at the things people say and how they say them. These comments are filled with so much scorn and unkindness, and I have to believe that the people writing it aren’t aware of how toxic it is for everyone — including for the animals.

As I see it, this toxic self-righteousness is coming from two groups — and this is a broad generalization, but there seems to be:

  1. some well-intentioned ethical vegans who are concerned that veganism as an ethical way of living is watered down by the media and celebrities who position veganism as a temporary, trendy diet. Hooked on the ideology, the badge, the label, the purity, this is the group that acts as if veganism is the end rather than the means to an end. 
  2. some well-intentioned health-oriented plant-based eaters who excoriate the consumption of oil, sugar, flour, wheat, gluten, or soy.  This is the group of dietary purity that scorns anyone as a “junk food vegan” who doesn’t fit their prescribed notion of what vegans should eat (and look) like. 

I bring up both of these groups because I see policing on both sides. It’s really more than acting like the police; it’s also playing judge, jury, and executioner. Today, I’m going to talk only about the first category and save the second for an upcoming podcast episode.

In the first category, those folks attack:

  • Vegetarians who are not yet vegan.
  • People who identify as vegan but who “cheat” or eat animal products occasionally.
  • People who identify as vegan but who have stopped eating animals and animal products for health reasons. The feeling is that if they’re not doing it for the animals, then they shouldn’t call themselves vegan.
  • People who don’t identify as vegan but who have stopped eating animals and animal products for health reasons and thus call themselves “plant-based.” The feeling is that if they’re just “plant-based,” then it’s not about the animals and they’ll still be contributing to animal exploitation.
  • Non-vegans (including celebrities) who have vegan companies or sell vegan products. (Even though many of us live in the real world where we buy vegan products from non-vegan grocery stores and plants harvested by non-vegan farmers and eat in vegan restaurants owned by non-vegans, when a non-vegan celebrity (ahem, Beyonce) announced that she’s creating a vegan food delivery service, the Interwebs went nuts — accusing her of appropriating the vegan ethic.)

But it’s not just the non-vegans who are targets of their scorn. It’s also vegans — it’s vegans who are pregnant or who have children (“breeders”). Vegans who have companion animals (“perpetuating animal slavery”). Vegans who are religious. Vegans who celebrate Christmas. Vegans who celebrate Valentine’s Day. Vegans who aren’t intersectionalists. Vegans who aren’t activists. Vegans who share recipes. Vegans who aren’t angry all the time. Vegans who aren’t Level-5 vegans.

In a famous Simpson’s episode called “Lisa the Tree Hugger,” Lisa meets animal/enviornmental rights activist, Jesse. She falls head over heels in love and wants him to notice how conscious and ethical she is.  

Lisa: Oh, the earth is the best! That’s why I’m a vegetarian.
Jesse: Heh. Well, that’s a start.
Lisa: Uh, well, I was thinking of going vegan.
Jesse: I’m a level 5 vegan — I won’t eat anything that casts a shadow.

Ah, yes. It’s funny because it’s so true.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love people who have opinions. I’m one of them. I love people who stand up for what they believe in. I’m one of them. I love people who speak up for the animals and act on their behalf. I’m one of them. But we can do all of that without being cruel. I feel like I’m constantly talking about walking the line between this and that: walking the line between speaking up for what we believe in and not being attached to the outcome. Walking the line between asking for what we want without being demanding. Walking the line between expressing our opinion without attacking other people. We can do it all. We can. It takes practice, and it takes time, but it can be done.

I think we humans — especially opinionated or justice-oriented humans — are not good at living in the grey areas or at least areas we feel are places of contradiction. For instance, I think what happens for so many animal rights activists and ethical vegans is that we feel so acutely aware of how much animals are suffering that we think if we don’t demonstrate outrage about this fact all the time, then we’re not being true to them. We’re not being good advocates. I think we think that if we’re not in a constant state of anger about how animals are treated, we’re letting the animals down. We feel that if we don’t speak UP for animals, we’re letting them down, but speaking up for the non-human animals doesn’t mean we have to speak down to the human animals. 

I understand the urgency. I understand the desperation, the outrage, the anger. It’s why I talk about this in the podcast series I did called The 10 Stages You Go Through When You Stop Eating Animals (and it’s the subject of my upcoming book The Joyful Vegan’s Guide to Life). It’s not that we shouldn’t be outraged and motivated and angry, but I think some people lose the plot. Or maybe they haven’t lost the plot at all. Maybe the problem is they see nothing but the plot, but that’s a problem because when you see only one thing through one lens, you become incredibly myopic. Animals are victims of horrific violence at our hands for the sake of our pleasure and convenience. That is true. That is real. But that’s not all that’s real. That’s not all that’s true. As human beings, we don’t live in a vacuum.

We are complex people who live in a complex world with many, many inputs determining who we become and what we do and what we believe and what we buy and who we eat. Forces are in play every day conditioning us, reinforcing belief systems, influencing our decisions, and affecting our relationships.

It’s neither realistic nor fair to expect everyone to see through the same lens we do. And as advocates, we want to speak up and help guide people toward embracing their empathy and compassion for animals and not contribute to this violence. In fact, the word “advocate” is built from the word “vocare” – to call – which is related to the word “vox” – voice. As advocates we MUST use our voices in order to be voices for animals, but we have to be mindful of HOW to use our voice so that we’re not only compassionate but effective. We must speak up, but we don’t have to be cretins to do so. 

I will emphasize the word “effective” for those who don’t think they have to be compassionate to people when the stakes (for animals) are so high, but I will tell you that if you think people will be attracted to venom and invective, then I will just say I vehemently disagree.

People join groups and befriend people they’re attracted to, and I guarantee you that very few people are attracted to self-righteousness, especially when something is new to them and they’re already feeling vulnerable and exploring unfamiliar territory. And when the attack comes publicly, that’s even worse, because nobody likes being humiliated. That should just go without saying, but I’ve said it, and I’ll say it again. Nobody likes being humiliated.

I’m not saying everyone has to agree or have the same viewpoints. But that doesn’t mean in disagreeing or having conviction or having opinions we can’t do it in a way that is constructive rather than destructive.

Of course, you can say that in the end, the person who happens upon a negative comment and chooses not to be vegan because of it is really their own blocks and they’re just using it as an excuse to not change their behavior. But I don’t think it’s as simple as that. Yes, I believe very much that we’re ultimately responsible for our own actions, but we’re also social creatures and psychological creatures, and some things really are just a turn-off for people, and if you don’t know that you have an effect on people for better or for worse, then you’re just lying to yourself.

You’re lying because if you’re any kind of activist, you’re ACTING to affect someone else’s behavior, so you’re at least aware that there’s a relationship taking place, that there’s a cause and effect. And what I’m saying is that mean, nasty, self-righteous posts mostly have the EFFECT of turning people away.

Now, in the end, my little lecture isn’t going to change much. It will probably receive approval from those who already agree with me and scorn from those who don’t. In the end, I can’t control how others represent veganism and animal advocacy. And that’s part of the point. We can’t control how people — the media, celebrities, the public, vegans, plant-based eaters, etc. —  will use or represent what “vegan” is!

We can’t control the message, because there is no single voice. My voice is singular; it’s my own, and I use it. Your voice is singular; it’s your own. Use it wisely and intelligently and effectively. How I represent myself as a vegan and animal activist is all I can control, and in being able to control that, I’m going to be the best, most steadfast, most compassionate, most effective voice for animals I can be. 

“Vegan” isn’t a trademark that any of us own. It’s a means for achieving my goal of living in a way that doesn’t contribute to violence against animals. We can help clarify what vegan means, because it does mean something, but we don’t get vegan certification when we become vegan. Being vegan is not about being perfect or pure, and I think this expectation of perfection is what stops many people from even trying to be vegan.

Their fear is justified when they proudly declare to someone or in a message board that they’ve become vegan, and they’re met with smug responses from non-vegans that the shoes they’re wearing are made of are leather or from vegans that the machines on which their peanut butter was made were also used to make non-vegan food products.

That isn’t to say that in this imperfect world I don’t accidentally contribute to the suffering of human or non-human animals, but that doesn’t make me less vegan. It just makes me human: an imperfect human in an imperfect world using this thing called VEGAN as a pretty fantastic way to reflect my values of compassion and wellness.

And that’s the message I want to convey when people are trying to do the right thing. I want them to know that there’s so much they can do in their own lives to not contribute to violence against animals and though they, too, are imperfect humans in this imperfect world. Imperfection is built into being vegan. But so is compassion. And without that, it’s just ideology.  

All of this is in today’s episode — speaking up for animals — online and in person — without alienating people who are trying to make compassionate choices. I’ll be addressing it in this year’s Compassion in Action conference as well as in my upcoming book.

Thank you for your support and for sharing. 

Zero Waste Shampoo and Conditioner

When I first made the decision to eliminate plastic containers and bags from my life and “go zero waste,” some switches were easy peasy. Some had me in a panic. Like finding zero waste hair care in general and shampoo and conditioner in particular. 

My attachment to my favorite vegan hair care products (sold in plastic bottles) had me wondering if I would just have to make an exception when it came to styling my locks. But with a little time, a lot of research, and an irrational determination to see things through to the end, I made some new discoveries.

I have not yet found a zero waste solution for all of my hair care needs such as styling products (future post coming!). But in the meantime, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned and what I love so you can get started, too.

It took me decades to figure out what my fickle hair needed — in terms of the right style, the right stylist, the right shampoo and conditioner, and the right styling products. 

zero waste hair

Of course for all of these decades the main criteria for choosing hair products have been first and foremost: vegan and cruelty-free. (That is, free of animal products and free of animal-testing). I’ve tried a gazillion products over the years, and the brand that ticks all of my ethical, vegan, and beauty boxes is Aveda. Having used and loved this brand for over a decade, the thought of switching brands was not something I relished. 

Because Aveda primarily sells their products to Aveda-approved salons, for a time I thought that my solution would be to ask my hair stylist if I could just fill up my existing Aveda containers with shampoo and conditioner from the large bottles she would already have open for washing clients’ hair. 

While this would slightly reduce the existence of additional plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles in the world and while I think it’s a brilliant stop-gap (you can steal this idea!), I was open to exploring other solutions that would bring me closer to the zero-waste goals I was trying to achieve. 

And a solution I found!

Let me cut to the chase and tell you about the zero waste hair care products I love so much that they successfully helped wean me off of Aveda. Then I’ll provide some other ideas so you have a bunch to choose from. (Keep reading for your 15% off coupon code!)

Plaine Products

When I heard about a sister-owned company that made cruelty-free, plastic-free, chemical-free, zero waste, biodegradable, vegan shampoo and conditioner, I had to give them a try! (Plus, they have body lotion and body wash!) They were kind enough to send me some products to test, and I was hooked immediately. 

Even so, I wanted to give my hair some time to experience the products before I shared my enthusiasm. Now that time has passed, I’m here to share why my enthusiasm has only increased. I’m hooked.

Plaine Products come in aluminum containers that they refill for customers again and again and again. Here’s how it works:

  1. For your first order, you order the products you want with a pump for each aluminum bottle. 
  2. When you run out of (or are running low on) your products, you order a refill! Then, you say “no” to the pump option (since you already ordered them in your first shipment). Finally, you opt for a return label to be sent with your order.
  3. When your new order arrives, you just switch the pump over to the new bottles! Next, send the old bottles back using the same box and the label (that you don’t pay additionally for). They sanitize the bottles, refill them, and send them to their new home for other customers.

As you learned from the podcast episode called Zero Waste: It Ain’t About Recycling, very little of the plastic we buy gets recycled. And because it lasts for so long, every bit of plastic ever created still exists on this planet. Experts predict that at our current rate of plastic use and disposal, soon there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. That is a depressing thought.

What you also learned is that when it comes to materials, glass is indeed 100% recyclable (though we should re-use it rather than recycle it when it’s perfectly functional). So is aluminum. And in the case of Plaine Products, the aluminum bottles are sterilized and used a number of times before they even get recycled. AND, the recycling process for aluminum requires even less energy than was needed to make the bottles in the first place!

What’s more: the boxes they use to ship (which you can use to send your bottles back) are custom-made to fit their bottles. That eliminates the need for peanuts or packaging! AND they’re made from a mix of 95% post-consumer waste and 5% post-industrial waste. Absolutely NO new materials are used in the manufacturing of their green shipping cartons. They even use plastic-free tape. 

AND…everything comes in two natural scents: Mint + Rosemary or Citrus + Lavender. Both are divine!

Buy Your Plaine Products for 15% Off!

If I haven’t convinced you to give them a try yet, then experience their awesomeness yourself. Use this link anytime you make a purchase, and enter “compassion” as the coupon code to receive 15% off your order! The shipping is a flat $5, which is pretty amazing. 

The Aveda conditioner I was using before cost $44. You might think that’s crazy, but for a fantastic, cruelty-free, toxin-free, vegan, natural conditioner that I loved, I was willing to pay it — especially because I had tried so many others that just didn’t work for my hair. 

The fact that I’m paying 1/3 less now for a zero-waste, sustainable, plastic-free, vegan, toxic-free, biodegradable conditioner (and shampoo, etc.) is the icing on the cake! By the time you factor in your 15% off coupon code using this link, I think you’ll be happy with that, too! 

Other Zero Waste Options

Shampoo Bars – I’ve never tried them, but I’ve heard mixed opinions about shampoo bars. Give them a try yourself, and let me know what you think. 

Refilling from Bulk Section – Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco is the closest store to me that has bulk shampoos and conditioners with which you can fill your own bottles. HOWEVER, the brands they have aren’t vegan or cruelty-free. But look to stores near you with good bulk sections!

DIY – Make your own. Good luck. 🙂

SHOP Summary

REMEMBER TO USE ANY OF THE LINKS BELOW AND USE “compassion” TO RECEIVE 15% OFF YOUR ORDERS 

Zero Waste Food Scraps

I’ve had so many eye-opening moments since starting this Zero Waste journey — one of them having to do with food waste. It’s why I’ve devoted three podcast episodes to this topic, when I thought I’d just be doing a simple episode on how to compost.

Certainly it’s been revelatory to learn about the rampant (and preventable) food loss and food waste that takes place in the harvesting, production, processing, and transportation arms of the food sector — the animal livestock industry being the number one culprit. But it’s been the food waste that takes place in the consumer sector — in our own homes — that has left a deep impression on me. 

As I explain in Food Waste Part 2: Food is Not Garbage,  Americans throw away up to 40% of perfectly safe, perfectly edible food — all of which winds up in a landfill, sitting in a dump, creating methane and other greenhouse gases. 

The lightbulb that went off for me is simply this: food doesn’t belong in the garbage. I know that may sound ridiculously obvious, but I think because it’s so ridiculous obviously that it doesn’t even penetrate our skulls. We can’t see the forest for the trees.

When I started on this journey and began making changes in my life and in our home, one of the dilemmas I was faced with was what kind of garbage bags would I be able to find that fit our existing cans (below) and that are biodegradable. I started researching and googling and stressing until I realized…we don’t need ANY garbage bags at all — because there’s nothing stinking up our garbage!

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The only reason we line our garbage bins with plastic bags is because of all the wet food we throw away that becomes stinky and smelly. Once we put those stinky garbage bags into our outdoor garbage cans, hungry, opportunistic critters (or “pests” as many people consider them) find these food-filled cans and create the human / animal conflicts that lead to their demise. The raccoons, skunks, opossums, crows, foxes, even bears who topple our garbage cans and make a mess are simply being resourceful enough to want to eat the food we considered waste and discarded. 

Animals are the ultimate zero-wasters!

But, no food breaking down in our garbage…no smell. No smell…no “pests.” No “pests”…no conflicts or fear of disease-transmission. No conflicts…harmony. (And if you’re worried that urban and suburban wildlife would starve if we stopped throwing food away, my recommendation would be to focus on creating a wildlife-friendly habitat.)

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Same goes for dumps.

The only reason dumps smell putrid is because of all the food we throw away that becomes stinky and smelly. If organic matter weren’t putrefying (especially because it can’t properly break down without the oxygen and soil and microbes it needs to do so), dumps wouldn’t smell. They also wouldn’t create greenhouse gases or attract “pests” that also create conflicts and a certain bad reputation and sometimes death for them. (Listen to the podcast for more about the negative effects of food in dumps.)

So instead of buying biodegradable garbage bags (which, by the way, can’t biodegrade without the right conditions, and there are no right conditions in a dump), we simply put our garbage and recycling into their respective receptacles — sans plastic bags. 

Despite the goal being zero waste, we do still create waste in our home, mostly from products we still had and are using up before starting this journey and packaging from online orders (for the garbage) and aluminum cans from the cats’ food and the beer bottles David occasionally buys (for the recycling). All of the garbage items are dry, so there’s no issue there, and as for the recyclable items, we simply rinse out the cat cans and beer bottles before putting them in the garbage bin. The rest is any mail I can’t compost (yes, I’ll be discussing the challenge of reducing unwanted mail!) No need for a liner. 

On garbage days, we bring take the receptacles directly to the city cans in our garage, dump in the contents, and rinse out our cans before returning them to the kitchen. Easy. Peasy.

As for what we do with food scraps, you’ll want to listen to the Food Waste Part 2 podcast episode for the gazillion ideas I provide for reducing food waste in the first place — and composting is the final (not first) suggestion. That’s right…the other massive revelation that guides my actions every day: ZERO WASTE ISN’T ABOUT WASTE DIVERSION. IT’S ABOUT WASTE PREVENTION

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Yes, I compost all the food scraps that remain (more to come on that topic), but I’m now focused more on eliminating food scraps in the first place, including when I eat out or at other people’s homes. (And for years we used compostable bags to line our compost pail on our countertop to make it “more convenient” for us to bring it down to the city’s green bin in our garage, but we stopped buying those, too, because it’s only a little less convenient to bring the actual pail down to the green bin, dump it, and bring it back to the kitchen. Big. Friggin. Deal.) 

I’m reluctant to even recommend biodegradable garbage bags, because of all the reasons I gave above, but I realize there are municipalities around the world who don’t offer green bins for homeowners or apartment dwellers and many people don’t have compost bins (or know what to do with them if they did), however, please do me a favor and first:

  1. Listen to Food Waste: Part One and Food Waste: Part Two to get a broader understanding of the issue.
  2. Implement the suggestions in Part Two to start reducing food waste in the first place. 
  3. Purchase biodegradable garbage bags instead of plastic while you’re eliminating food waste as much as you can.
  4. Share what you’re doing below to inspire others!

Thanks for reading! Lots more to come!

For the animals, 

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