3 Tips for a Low Waste Halloween

Halloween! Such a fun fantastical holiday when you can really be whoever you want to be:

  • Storm from the X-Men?
  • Willy Wonka?
  • Or popular and scary Freddy Krueger?

Well, even scarier might be the incredible amount of plastic waste generated during this holiday. One study estimated that the UK tossed over 2,000 tons of new plastic waste from throwaway Halloween clothing alone during the 2019 holiday. Whaaaaa? That’s scary. And that isn’t even counting waste from candy wrappers and jack-o-lanterns.

Good news, though. This is avoidable!

In any case, there is a good chance that some waste will be avoided this year because of COVID since trick-or-treating won’t be allowed in many places. But here are 3 easy things to do to reduce waste during Halloween.

1.) Make a Jack-o-lantern!

Get your pumpkins, everybody! But roast the seeds. Also, when your pumpkin starts to go, put it in your yard debris bin or compost pile to be composted instead of throwing it in the trash.

2.) Get creative with your costume. Say no to single-use.

Tim as Alastair Moody!

Do you have your costume or your kiddo’s costume dialed in yet? Here’s a reminder to get creative rather than buying a brand new packaged plastic firefighter suit.

  • Can you buy a second-hand suit from the thrift store?
  • Can you avoid using costumes with pieces of plastic that will just fall off and end up in the yard?
  • Can you use non-toxic face paint and makeup?
  • Channel your inner DIY ninja!

We wrote a whole blog about DIY costumes a few years ago!

Tess as the Loch-Tess Monster!
Kailey as Guess Who’s Maria!

3.) Can we green-up the trick-or-treat candy?

Even if you aren’t going trick-or-treating, there are better ways to buy candy to reduce waste. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • AlterEco has compostable wrappers.
  • Choose candy that comes in cardboard boxes or foil so that you have recyclable wrappers.
  • Can you find your favorite candies in the bulk section at Bend Food 4 Less, Market of Choice, or Fred Meyer​, for example?

5 quick tips: how to reduce waste during construction

The EPA estimates that 548 million tons of construction and demolition (C/D) debris (concrete, asphalt, steel, wood products, drywall, brick and clay tile, etc) was generated in the U.S. in 2015 alone — more than twice the amount of generated municipal solid waste. The reduction, reuse, and recycling of C/D can be accomplished through deconstruction and reclamation. Keeping the materials in the loop is an important part of reducing waste in Deschutes County.

During this year’s Green Tour you can catch a panel discussion all about rethinking construction waste. We will hear from homeowners who are salvaging materials, getting creative (like stenciling their old tile floors to give them a whole new modern look!), and utilitizing great finds from the Restore. We’ll be joined by the Habitat for Humanity Restore too so we can learn what types of materials can be salvaged and donated to be reused in the community. On the new construction side, we’ll hear from two builders who are reducing the their waste footprints with panelized designs.

Register Here

Did you know: 25% or more of Deschutes County’s Knott Landfill consists of construction and demolition waste?

This seems daunting, but there are simple ways to reduce this number. Are you thinking about a remodeling or construction project? Here are some ways to rethink construction waste:

Are you remodeling? Take the time to deconstruct.

  1. Getting rid of old kitchen cabinets? Call the ReStore’s reclamation services. They will remove the old ones out for you and then take the ReStore where someone else can buy them. Keep it in the loop!
  2. If you’re getting rid of appliances that still work, try to sell them or donate them.
  3. Gently remove old wood and trim rather than using the sledgehammer. Satisfaction will come from passing materials on and you can go hit the punching bag at the gym to get your energy out!

Set up a recycling station at the construction site.

  1. Get a good idea of what you will need: what materials on site will be good for donation? What different recycling streams can you contribute to?
  2. Outline a recycling area on the construction site.
  3. Obtain containers for each donatable and recyclable.
  4. Make sure you have clear signs for each area!
  5. Educate everyone on site so folks know what goes where.

Kor community land trust models this well. Check out their recycling station below. If you want to see it in person, you can sign up for an in-person tour for Saturday, September 26 through our annual Green Tour event!

When designing your new look, take the following into consideration:

  1.  Use non-toxic options like natural flooring and low or no VOC paints.
  2. Can you find the building material you need at your local ReStore?
  3. Choose classic designs and finishes that work well over time rather than the trendy new look. (Green shag carpet, anyone?)

Time to paint!?

  1. Try a sample before you commit.
  2. Buy only what you need! Try a paint calculator.
  3. Only need a little paint? Can you find a good color at the ReStore?
  4. Don’t toss old paint! Recycle it: donate usable paint, all else take it to Knott Landfill for proper disposal.

Get inspired by other people’s reuse ideas:

Check out the Porter bathroom from the 2020 Green Tour! In this segment, Michelle talks about redoing surfaces instead of trashing good materials in order to update a dated space. Watch the whole video here.

Do you have any fun reuse ideas?

Rethink Waste Opens Application for Community Waste Reduction Grants

The Environmental Center’s Rethink Waste Project is to provide $500 – $2000 grant awards to individuals, businesses, or organizations in Deschutes County to help with materials, infrastructure, or time that contribute to waste reduction in the community. Work should plan for continued success beyond the grant period. The project must have measurable results. For example, the project could measure the amount of waste prevented, the increase in waste recycled, or the amount of waste composted, etc.

Application Guidelines


  • Businesses, individuals, and organizations in Deschutes County or a project that largely impacts Deschutes County and/or its residents.
  • Projects must be completed by December 31st, 2021.

Selection​ ​Criteria:

  • The application is complete, submitted, and all questions are answered completely. If you can’t submit the application online, please contact Ani to let her know.
  • The applicant submits a simple budget (a bulleted list is sufficient) to show the use of funds and a general timeline of implementation after submitting application.
  • The project is clearly defined through goals, objectives, and a reasonable budget.
  • The project has measurable results.  The project application must describe how many resources are being conserved. For example, the amount of waste prevented, the increase in waste recycled, or the amount of waste composted, etc.
  • The application must demonstrate how the project will be sustained past the first year of funding and will contribute to waste prevention at the community long-term.

Ideas of What Can​ ​Be​ ​Funded:

  • Materials or infrastructure needed for waste reduction
  • Incentive prizes for community members for participation in waste reduction program
  • Reusable dishware to reduce waste at staff events
  • Compost tumblers or equipment to support food waste reduction
  • 2019-2020 Grant Winners

Please submit application online through google forms, if possible. Please submit any questions and application materials with e-mail subject “Fall 2020 RW Community Grant Application” in the subject line to:

Grants Timeline

Applications Due: November 13, 2020
Grant Winners Announced: December 11, 2020
Grant Progress Report Due: June 25, 2021
Grant Work completed by: December 31, 2021
Final Grant Report Due: January 14, 2022

If possible, please apply online here. Or click here to download the complete application and guidelines.

*Header image shows the coffee bar at Sunriver Owner’s Association with the reusable mugs they bought with the Rethink Waste grant money to replace their single-use styrofoam cups.

10 Quick Rethink Tips for Every Day!

There is a lot you can do every day to reduce your waste and Rethink your relationship to your stuff. Here are a few for you to ponder:


1.) Say no thanks to single-use utensils and paper napkins with your take out!

If you order food for delivery, ask the restaurant to hold the disposable silverware and napkins and use your own at home. Since delivery is on the rise because of the COVID epidemic, that means more single-use disposables are ending up in the trash. Do your part by using reusables!

And if you order from an app, let them know!

2.) Sign up for Loop to reduce new container purchasing and reuse the existing ones.

Have you checked out TerraCycle’s Loop shop? You can buy your consumable products in a reusable container that you return for a refill. The products are currently available online, but Loop has partnered with some brick and mortar stores to offer a reusable experience without the shipping.

The pandemic seems to be helping Loop grow even faster since people aren’t shopping in stores as much. And more and more big-name brands are getting on board the Loop train. Have you tried Loop? What do you think?

3.) Love your clothes til the very end of their life.

Ok well, this one is Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle all in one. Did you know it takes 1,500 gallons of water to manufacture just one T-shirt and pair of jeans? So let’s keep those jeans that you loved SO much out of the landfill. How?

Here 3 ideas:

  • Buy clothes that are either second hand or well made so they last longer
  • Turn older pants into shorts!
  • Sew the cut legs into a reusable bag.
  • Too loved to wear? You can also recycle them into building insulation: Recycling with Zappos

Reduce – Wasted Food

4.) Refresh your floppy carrots, don’t toss them!

Have you ever experienced squishy, flaccid carrots from leaving them in the fridge for too long? Do this to your carrots to crisp them back up: simply place them in a glass of water!

You can get more food waste prevention tips here.

5.) Preserve your food.

Food In JarsFood preservation is amazing:

  • It prevents wasted food
  • It makes GREAT homemade gifts
  • It can be a creative outlet!

Check out this long and thorough list of how to preserve different all different kinds of food through canning, pickling, drying, and more! Thanks, Oregon State University Extension Service!!


6.) Make reusable “water balloons”!

During HOT summer months, how about a good old fashioned water balloon fight to keep cool and have some playtime? Watch these kiddos toss over and over and over because…here’s the kicker: Reuseable “Water Balloons”!

Why? Less waste, fewer bits of microplastics entering the environment in our parks, gardens, and waterways. Plus, a good activity to put them together with the kiddos?

Here’s what you need:

  • Sponges
  • Scissors
  • Something to tie them with (string, rubber bands, zip ties)

Here’s how to do it:

  • Cut sponges into strips
  • Stack them on top of each other
  • Tie together: tada!
  • Here‘s a how-to video if you need more

Another method on the interwebs if you have some yarn and crochet hooks. Google it, test it out, let me know how it goes!


7.) Recycle cardboard: break it down, put it in the bin, and keep it clean and dry.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, there is less recyclable corrugated cardboard sent to be recycled because the suppliers (mainly large commercial entities with big cardboard recycling collection programs) are not selling as many wares.
Meanwhile, the residential sector is ordering more for online delivery and receiving more packages that can be recycled.
Rachel Kenyon, senior vice president for the Fibre Box Association said, “When commercial collections stalled because of COVID-19 shutdowns, the corrugated industry recognized the need to encourage greater residential recycling,” she said, adding the industry “needs clean, dry corrugated to ensure we maintain our balanced system.”

8.) Plastic lids are not recyclable in Deschutes County.

Q – Why aren’t plastic lids recyclable?

A – Your curbside commingled recyclables are collected, baled, and taken to a Materials Recovery Facility — in Deschutes County’s case: to Portland. There, thousands of pounds of mixed materials are poured onto conveyor belts and physically sorted by hand and sometimes by robots. Because of the massive quantities of materials, it is difficult to efficiently and effectively sort small pieces. Also, the small lids can get caught in the gears of the conveyor belts.

Flat plastic lids like those from yogurt tubs can get caught between stacks of paper on those conveyor belts and cause contamination.
And as for why we don’t just keep the caps attached to the bottles so they don’t get lost in the conveyor belts? When the materials are baled before shipping, they are compressed to save space on the trucks. That compression will cause bottles with lids to explode which can be harmful to workers in the facility — little bottle cap rockets shooting who knows which way.

SO: please toss your plastic lids in the trash!

9.) Put your receipts in the trash.

Did you know most receipts are NOT recyclable? This is because most are printed using thermal paper that contains a toxic chemical called BPA (and sometimes, even if it’s BPA free, it could contain BPS). There is no good way to tell whether or not the paper is thermal or not, so it’s best to toss your receipts in the garbage. Also, it’s probably best if you don’t lick them.

Here are a couple other tips for Deschutes County recycling:

  • We do NOT recycle by number here. Just because it has a recycling symbol on it does not mean it is recyclable.
  • Clamshells, paper coffee cups, and plastic (both petroleum and compostable) cups are also not recyclable here.
  • Curious about what else is and isn’t recyclable? Learn more here.

10.) We do NOT “recycle by number” in Deschutes County.

The chasing arrows symbol does NOT inherently mean a container is recyclable.

Did you know we do NOT “recycle by number” in Deschutes County? The universal recycling symbol is deceiving because it does not mean something is recyclable. The numbers tell us what kind the chemical composition of the plastic. While they do recycle by number in some places, not in here!

What plastics are accepted curbside here? Bottles, tubs, and jugs — no lids. Not sure if your item can go in? Ask us! Or throw it out. It’s more important than ever not to contaminate the recycling.

Learn from the kids: reusables!

Reusables! They are the best. Sometimes they do require an upfront investment, but over time, as you use, the costs equalize. Yes, costs. You won’t have to buy single-use disposables over and over AND the tax on the earth also lessens.

Reusables are great for:

  • Camping – You can just set up a dishwashing station. More about camping here.
  • Parties – Holiday parties, kid’s birthday parties, bachelorette parties, weddings. Don’t have enough of your own for the number of guests? You can buy dishes from a second-hand store, ask a friend if they have a set, or encourage your guests to bring their own. More about holidays here.
  • To go containers – BYO to the restaurant and pile in your leftovers.
  • Kid camps – Check out these kids below who are showing how easy it can be to use reusables.

Use and wash and reuse and wash and reuse and wash…

Below some kids demonstrate a good way to wash dishes whether or not we’re in a pandemic!

Here are some kids bringing reusables to camp, but we can also bring our own to school, work, or on the go:

A note about reusables during COVID-19 pandemic

There’s a lot of confusing and conflicting information out there about reuse during the time of COVID. But here is a fact supported by a quote from Dr. Ben Locwin, epidemiologist:

Reuseable materials do not inherently give you coronavirus.

“You can’t be innoculated by the coronavirus by just touching a surface that has it on it. It has to not only be on the surface AND viable AND in enough quantity, but then you ALSO have to bring the vector to your eyes, nose or moutn in order to introduce it.”

The likelihood of getting COVID through a reusable surface is technically equal to getting it through a single-use disposable surface and THAT likelihood is very low. We just need to make sure to wash our reusable before we reuse them and wash our hands before touching our faces.

Rethink Waste in and around your garden with Bend Urban Gardens

There is so much waste that can happen in backyard gardening: building materials, toxic chemicals from herbicides and pesticides, not to mention water, energy, and food waste potentials that can occur. I had a chance to sit down with a professional to learn about some best practices around waste reduction in the garden. From non-toxic alternatives to building and decorating with found materials, Ashley Joyce (in header photo) of Bend Urban Gardens tells us what’s up.

And some exciting news: it isn’t too late in the year to plant stuff! There are plenty of crops that go in for a fall harvest. Read on.

RW: Who are you? Tell us about yourself. What’s your company called and who do you serve? 

AJ: I am Ashley Joyce, the founder, lead gardener, and vegetable enthusiast of Bend Urban Gardens LLC. Our mission is to bring research-based information to local gardeners through personalized on-site coaching, offering guidance for success in growing nutritious and delicious food in the high desert. Growing vegetables in Central Oregon can be intimidating and overwhelming, but we make gardening in our climate accessible through inspiration, education, and ongoing support. We serve aspiring vegetable gardeners with little to no experience growing food as well as folks who are looking to expand or improve their existing edible landscapes.

RW: What is your history with Central Oregon? How long have you been involved in gardening here and how did you get started with gardening?

AJ: I moved to Bend when I was eleven years old, but it wasn’t until my AmeriCorps VISTA service, in my early twenties, that I developed an interest in where food comes from. During that time, I volunteered on an urban farm and cared for a small container garden on my rooftop. Even though I lost my first tomatoes to city squirrels, I persevered and spent a few growing seasons interning on diversified organic vegetable farms. It was at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz (CASFS), a training program for organic farmers and gardeners, where I led farm field trips for kids, that I realized applying my food production knowledge to educating others about growing and preparing food was my niche. In 2009, after completing the program and earning a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture, I moved home to Bend and spent nearly nine years teaching nutrition, cooking, and gardening, as an educator with the OSU Extension Service SNAP-ED Program in Deschutes County.

Once back in Bend, I started gardening on a very small scale, amending patches of soil in the backyards where I lived. I was a member of the Hollinshead Community Garden for a season before finally landing at my current home, where I’ve been since 2012. In 2015, my husband and I were honored to share our garden with the community on the High Desert Garden Tour presented by the OSU Extension Service and the Central Oregon Chapter of OSU Master Gardeners. We showcased the possibilities of using season extension to grow a CSA share in a back (and now front, too!) yard in Bend, despite our unpredictable, short growing season. 

RW: In regards to material waste, what are some ways you see excess pertaining to gardening, and what are some suggestions you have for creative reuse in the garden? 

AJ: There are so many creative ways to upcycle materials in a garden, whether it is for building garden beds or trellises, or for decoration, depending on the aesthetic you are going for in your outdoor living space.

Old lumber: Repurposing old lumber into raised beds for edible plants is a popular way to reuse materials. However, be sure the wood isn’t treated or painted with lead paint if you are using it to grow edible plants. 

Pallets: If you are going to plant directly into a pallet, look for pallets that are heat-treated instead of chemical treated, and make sure you are comfortable with where they came from. 

Old tires: Also a popular material for repurposing into garden spaces, especially since they can retain heat well and offer warmth to your plants when they are in direct sunlight, although there is some evidence that chemicals in tires can leach into edible crops over time, so we don’t recommend planting food crops in tires, but you could use them for a flower garden. 

Trellises: Branches, old bike wheels, and even headboards can make great trellises for viney climbing plants. If you are spending more time at home and engaging in home projects, think about the ways you can repurpose materials instead of sending them to the landfill. This season I took apart a portion of my chicken coop (to convert to more garden space, of course!) and reused the gate as a trellis for my peas! 

Check out what these two Bend Urban Gardens clients did with upcycled bits for their gardens:

One easy way to reduce waste is to get bulk soil for your raised beds instead of bagged soil.

In our household, we have accumulated a variety of bike parts over the years and have decorated our raised beds with chainrings and also used busted bike tubes as a durable protector to cover the area where our greenhouse plastic is attached to our hoop house hoops.

Cloches decorated with a bicycle chainring. Used bike tubes line the outside of the hoops for protection.

RW: What about on a smaller scale? Like just a pot of herbs?

AJ: Growing herbs in containers can be a great gateway into urban gardening. New pots can be expensive, especially large ones, but virtually any food-safe container that is at least 12 inches deep and 8 inches in diameter can make a good home for most plants. As long as there is some way for the container to allow for drainage, you can get creative. The Environmental Center has some innovative examples of rain gutter vertical gardens. Hanging shoe organizers that no longer have a clear purpose in your home after you’ve embraced a more minimalist lifestyle can be converted into gardens! Even old furniture, like dressers, can be turned into gardens. 

For seed starting on a home scale or growing microgreens, try reusing plastic clamshell containers with openings at the bottom, or even making drainage holes in tofu, yogurt, sour cream, and rotisserie chicken containers (also great for an easy greenhouse). 

RW: There are a lot of chemicals out there that people can purchase for use in their garden for both pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. What kind of non-toxic alternatives do you recommend? 

AJ: Building healthy garden soil is the best thing you can do to prevent the need for pesticides and supplementing with a lot of fertilizers. Of course, even in a vegetable garden with healthy soil, there are still creatures and plant diseases that can come along, and weeds can easily outcompete your plants if they aren’t managed. Our local garden centers have a variety of non-toxic products to choose from depending on your issue. 

Pesticides: For new gardeners (especially those spending a lot of time watching their plants during COVID times), it can sometimes be challenging to judge the severity of a pest issue. Simply being ok with sharing some of your plants can help you reduce the need for interventions in the first place. But, when pests are really making an impact on your ability to grow food, then some sort of intervention is usually needed. This spring, for example, cutworms devoured my spring greens. The bugs eat the bottom of the plant stems thereby killing the plant. I could’ve applied diatomaceous earth (a non-toxic pest control) once I realized that handpicking them out each day wasn’t reducing their population enough to save my plants, but I know that diatomaceous earth could’ve also done harm to beneficial insects. So, I pulled used toilet paper rolls out of my fire starting bin and made plant collars for the remaining bok choy and spinach plants as well as around my basil starts. I used coffee cup sleeves for my tomatoes. The collars protect the plants (and their stems) by being a physical barrier around the base!

Toilet paper roll and coffee sleeve collars to prevent insects from eating young greens!

I try to minimize the chance of having an infestation in the first place, by rotating my crops from season to season and attracting beneficial insects by planting flowers near my vegetable garden. Companion planting with fragrant herbs and flowers can deter some unwanted pests or become trap crops, sacrificial crops to help protect the plants you are growing for food. If those actions fail, I have had success with making a homemade insecticidal soap spray of 1 tablespoon dish soap and 1-quart water.

Herbicides: I don’t use herbicides. Solarizing and mulching are techniques I’ve practiced while apprenticing on farms to keep weeds down. Vinegar can be an effective weed killer, but I typically recommend simply using hand tools to remove weeds when they are small and easy to uproot. The hula hoe and hori hori are my favorites. 

Fertilizers: Nutrients aren’t typically as accessible to plants in a new garden (or in colder spring weather), mainly since microorganisms haven’t yet had the chance to turn the nutrients in your compost and the minerals in your soil into a form that your plants can use, so a balanced organic fertilizer can really help give your plants a boost at the beginning of the season in new garden beds and throughout the season for your heavy feeding plants like tomatoes, peppers, and squash.

RW: Watering is also a big issue, especially in the heat of mid-summer in drought conditions. What are your tips for the best time to water your vegetable garden?

AJ: First, I would definitely suggest reaching out to a licensed irrigation professional to help you use water most efficiently in your landscape. Many new vegetable gardeners choose to hand water or they place their vegetable gardens near existing overhead irrigation and end up putting down way too much water at once. I recommend watering in the early morning and practicing a cycle and soak approach, watering for short intervals of time, more frequently. This helps to avoid run off and to ensure that water is getting down to the roots of your plants. Feel your soil regularly to check the soil moisture to determine if you need to adjust your watering schedule. Investing in a drip irrigation system for your veggie garden will not only save you time, but is very effective at applying water. I recommend 1/4” drip lines with emitters every 6”  with lines spaced 8” apart in a garden bed. This should allow for enough lateral movement of the water to reach all of your plants right at their roots. 

RW: What about some good plants for Central Oregon xeriscaping? What’s your take on lawns? Is there a responsible way to do it or should we just get rid of them?

Bend Urban Gardens specializes in edible gardening. In our demonstration garden, there are a variety of flowering landscape plants near our edible annuals and perennials to help attract pollinators. We have chosen some natives, like Oregon Sunshine and penstemons that have low water needs. Everyone has different preferences and goals for their personal landscapes. In mine, if I’m going to consume water, I want it to be helping to grow food or pollinator habitat. I know that my puppy would love to have a patch of grass to roll around on, but it motivates us to get some exercise and walk to the park for that!

RW: Would you mind highlighting one plant that does well in Central Oregon?

AJ: Just one!?! Cold tolerant greens tend to do great in Central Oregon, and growing your own salad mix can definitely help you avoid the packaging that greens tend to be sold in. Choosing more heat resistant varieties for summer and planting them to the north of tall crops or covering them with shade cloth can help you continue your harvest through the heat of summer. 

It’s not too late to plant some vegetables for the fall and even to overwinter! This month, try sowing short-season varieties of beets, carrots, and leafy greens, as well as transplanting broccoli and cabbage. Plant garlic in October. At the end of August and into September, you can plant successions of spinach. It won’t grow much over the winter, but it could hold if covered with row cover and greenhouse plastic, for some fabulous early spring greens. Brassica family plants do very well in Central Oregon because they are so cold tolerant and can offer a continuous harvest throughout the growing season. Broccoli, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, boy choy, radishes, and Hakurei salad turnips are some of my favorites.

RW: Anything else you would like to add about waste in the garden? 

AJ: First off, growing an edible garden, in general, is a great way to reduce food waste for families because kids are often more likely to eat veggies that they helped grow or harvest. 

Also, plant spacing is really important in the garden because plants that are spaced too close together often don’t thrive and this can impact the other plants growing around them, wasting water and energy to grow plants that aren’t able to reach maturity. Bend Urban Gardens offers personalized crop plans to help you maximize your space and increase your chance of getting a bountiful harvest from what you grow. We also offer garden lessons to help you learn when to harvest your food, so that you don’t end up wasting the food you are working so hard to grow! 

Out the door with disposable diapers? And other questions answered by the pros.

Waste with babies! It can be overwhelming when you start to look at the increase in volume of waste in your garbage can when an infant joins the household:

  • Diapers!
  • Cleaning up after your baby
  • Food waste and garbage associated with food packaging
  • So much more…

I am not a mother, so I can’t claim to know anything about the difficulties of caring for a baby and thinking about reducing waste at the same time. So I reached out to all the parents I know for some input on this subject, and I’m excited to share with you here what I learned from the pros. Below are the answers from Tim P., Lindsey L., Lindsey H., Marianne P., Jackie W. and Denise R. Thanks for your input y’all! Couldn’ta done it without ya. The parents wanted me to let you know this is not exhaustive! Just a few thought opportunities.

1.) Diapers!! What are your thoughts on reusables?

LL: We love using reusable diapers!! We use reusables to reduce the waste our household creates. 

DR: We used reusable diapers — but not for the first 3 months because we were just adjusting to a new life. After that, we’d use reusables entirely at home, and save disposables for when we were out and about/on the go. She was able to do reusables at daycare too, but they saved them in a bag for us to deal with. I just kept buying used cloth diapers over craigslist so I had a little of everything, and then the ones that I felt worked best I bought a few of those new.

TP: Owen never wore a single disposable diaper. We were dedicated to reusables. They can be a pretty significant investment upfront, but they last and you can turn them over when you need to upgrade. We were fortunate and got gifted or found a whole bunch of them early on so we were ready when Owen was born. Also, he was potty trained before he was two. Which is one of the benefits of cloth diapers, from what I understand, it seems many kids using disposables continue to wear diapers until they are 4 or 5. 

JW: Get the pocket diapers! They are the best.

LH: If I were a better person, I would use 100% reusable. I was given a few and I bought a few at a consignment store. After about 3 months, my goal was to use at least one reusable a day. I picked a goal that I knew I could manage and wouldn’t get frustrated with.

On Cleaning Reusables

LL: We have a very handy pre-wash rinsing system that makes our diaper situation odor-free, has kept our diapers completely stain-free, and is super simple! After each soiled diaper is removed from our baby’s bum, we rinse it down with a sprayer that is attached to our toilet water inlet line. We clip the diapers into a “splash guard” for easy rinsing, then ring them out by hand. We give each one a quick spritz with a light bleach water solution that we mix in a spray bottle and then hang them to dry overnight on retractable a clothesline we installed in our guest shower. Once the diapers are dry (each morning), we toss them in a bin in the bathroom until its time to do the wash.

I think one “turn off” for using cloth diapers is the perceived mess….no one wants to dump a bunch-o-poo in their washing machine, and tossing wet diapers into a bin while you wait to have enough to wash often leads to mold/a bad smell/mildew, etc. The prewash system avoids that. It might not be quite as easy as throwing a disposable in the trash each time, but it’s still pretty easy… people with babies want “easy!”

TP: We would rinse them in a bottomless bucket with a sprayer over the toilet, once rinsed and wet they could sit for a day or two until you had a load ready to run. Then we would run the load once with cold water and then we’d run it a second time with warm water and vinegar. I don’t think we used a lot of detergents, Owen had very sensitive skin so we had to use eco-friendly hypo-allergenic soap for anything he wore. He rarely wore clothes though. 

Diaper service is the easiest way to enjoy reusable diapers but that can get pretty expensive. However, a month or three of diaper service makes a really excellent gift for expecting parents. That way they have time to get used to using the diapers without the full stress of cleaning them right off the bat.

MP: I did reusables from the start, and it wasn’t a big deal. Rinse in the toilet and then toss them in the bucket until it was time to do a load. Do a rinse with vinegar if they get stinky.

You can save money with reusables!

LL: We purchased ours off of craigslist (30 for $125): we would need to use each diaper 24 times in order to start saving money over the cheaper disposables at 0.18 each; we’ve easily already accomplished that goal in the first 8 months. We use Bum Genius and Alva Baby. The bum genius diapers are pretty expensive new (like around 15-20 bucks each!), but the Alva baby ones are $4.79 each on their website. You’d only have to use the Alva Baby diaper 27 times to “break-even” with the cheaper disposable brands. With 30 diapers, we have to wash them every 4th or 5th day. Our baby has fat little legs (great for a tight seal), so we don’t really have a brand preference, they both work great and grow with your baby, so no need to purchase different sizes.

JW: You can buy enough secondhand cloth diapers with $150 and that be equivalent to $2000 for disposable!

Cons with reusable diapers

LL: We do use a disposable at night because they wick moisture away (and hold TONS of pee!), keeping Anvers asleep longer. One small bag of soiled disposable diapers is SO HEFTY and we really feel the impact of the use of plastic each time we haul a bag to the bin.

TP: Running every load of diapers twice burned up our washing machine in the first month, so there was that expense. Also, you generate less waste but it does take a lot of water. 

When the baby is newborn, you don’t know what size they will be. We had a ton of diapers that never got used because Owen was too big for them when he was born. 

LH: I had a ton of trouble with Theodore soaking through in like an hour and a half. That has gotten way better since all of his nutrition doesn’t come in liquid form anymore so my advice would be to not give up! If you find one stage hard, like when all their poop is quickly and gross, try them again in the next phase.

MP: If you don’t have a washer that might be a challenge as I’m guessing the wash services are $$.

2.) Cleaning up after the baby can generate a lot of waste: what are some ways you have worked toward making that less?

LH: I use a reusable liner for the diaper pail. Since we bring it out twice a week, we could end up using a ton of garbage bags or pail liners so I have two that I rotate through and wash with the diapers. I also have a waterproof reusable bag in the diaper bag for collecting messy clothes (read: clothes covered in poop) when we’re out and about instead of using disposable plastic bags.

LL: We decided to make our own wipes to reduce the plastics we throw away and so that we know EXACTLY what is going in them/on our little guy’s bum. Each package of wipes you purchase means a plastic bag/container goes in the trash. We purchase a GIANT supply of paper towels from Costco, with the least amount of packaging as possible, and then cut them in half with a circular saw (a serrated bread knife works too!). We have a container that fits the rolls perfectly that we keep next to the changing table. We make up the recipe for the solution that goes on the wipes, then pour it over the half roll of paper towels in the container. Once the roll is nice and damp, you can pull the cardboard center right out! You can then pull the wipes from the center for use. We also do this with a smaller batch of reusable wipes (you can make them from flannel scraps for super cheap!) Some people go completely reusable, but we’ve opted to use disposable homemade wipes for poop situations and reusable wipes for other situations. Placing either cloth or disposable homemade wipes in a reusable plastic bag or Tupperware makes them easy to take on the go as well.

The recipe is as follows: 2 cups water (boil then let cool), 2 tbsp. almond, apricot or other oil, 1.5 tbsp. Dr. Bronners castile soap (unscented), 4 drops tea tree oil, 2 drops lavender oil. We have seen ZERO diaper rash with these things. One of my girlfriends also just brings dry reusable wipes along with her and has a little spray bottle that has the solution in it. She just sprays the wipes with the solution when its time to use them on the go, rather than carrying wet wipes with her.

Cleaning products for homemade wet wipes.

TP: We only used vinegar for cleaning. Natalie found a recipe for baby wipes on-line and we made our own baby wipes also. Essentially, pre-torn and stacked paper towels soaked in water, vinegar, and a mild castile soap. They worked fine and we could customize them for Owen’s mild skin. 

LH: I cut up a few old t-shirts to use as a face and hand rags for after meals and snack clean up instead of using wet wipes for his face. I go through so many of these a day that I needed a ton and needed something soft enough for soft cheeks. T-shirts are perfect!

MP: We used wet wipes for the yuckies and then washables next. I think we added backout to the load with regular arm and hammer. Stay away from the chemicals. Dr. Bronners and vinegar are good.

3.) Food! It’s easy to buy a ton of micro jars of baby food and now folks use the squeezy packets. Do you have a good alternative to that?

JW: Making baby food is very easy. You can find free reusable containers on Nextdoor or buy nothing project! You can get a couple of the reusable squeeze containers to refill, too.

Options for reusable snack containers.

TP: It’s easy to make your own baby food. Steam or boil and blend. Although, we loved the squeeze packets on the go because they weren’t messy and a baby can basically feed themself. 

LL: We make all of our own baby food! We basically take any vegetable we can think of (hopefully from the garden!) and steam it for 15-20 minutes, then either mash it by hand or puree it in the blender. Sometimes we combine ingredients, sometimes we stick with a single veggie. Once the puree has been created, we freeze them in a little “single serving” silicon freezer tray. After they freeze overnight, we pop them out and put them in freezer bags (that we label, and reuse).

Cube tray for frozen food.

If we are on the go, we pop a frozen treat into a Tupperware and either heat it a bit before we leave or let it thaw naturally. You can also cook fruits (think homemade apple sauce, pear sauce, etc.) and do the same thing! We’ve even frozen oatmeal this way for easy prep. We do food prep once every few weeks, so its not a terrible time suck. A minute in the microwave takes a little more time than opening a jar, but there isn’t any trash associated with our freezer cubes, and that’s what we like!

If we opt for other foods that are premade, like yogurt, we always buy a big container rather than individual servings to try to reduce our plastic use. We also try to feed him things we are purchasing/eating already, so there isn’t food waste from unused portions. 

LH: For pumping and breast milk storage, I was lucky to be given some extra plastic reusable bottles so I had enough to store milk in as I was pumping throughout the week. Before I put milk in the bags to freeze, I would wait and collect enough milk to make sure the bag was full.

For food: immersion blender! I found making food in anything that had to be cleaned out just made me not want to do it. I steamed or roasted veggies, put them in a large, wide-mouth mason jar and then just used an immersion blender. You can reuse baby food jars to put it into smaller portions for daycare. I bought a set of 10 containers that I portioned food into. We still use a ton of packets when we’re out and about because they’re just SO EASY to throw into your diaper bag and leave in there.

You can buy refillable pouches though which we use quite a bit to pack stuff for daycare and for snacks at home where they can be refrigerated. For the refillable pouches, even buying a giant jar of applesauce and refilling them is way better than buying the same amount of apple sauce in repacked little packets so don’t kill yourself making super fancy food–you can still make a difference. I mean at least I am assuming it’s better?

4.) Anything else you want to mention?

LL: We use craigslist a ton, as well as the baby resale shops in town! Babies go through things so quickly, so it’s easy to use “preused” items and then pass them along or trade them in for the next set of clothes/items you need! This keeps all the “new baby” packaging to a minimum as well. The pregnancy resource center is also a great resource, especially for those that have financial worries. They offer classes and other methods to earn “points” that can be redeemed for free donated baby items like clothes, diapers, blankets, formula etc. They also host events where you can get free baby clothes from their donated supplies. I’ve donated some items and talked with them about what they do: https://www.prcco.org 

LH: Over the Moon Diaper Service is a diaper service out of Redmond, OR. They have service to Bend, Sisters, and a bunch of other places in the county. You can see their website for details, but if you don’t want to do the diaper cleaning yourself, you can use them.

MP: Besides the car seat you don’t need most of the STUFF! We were in a small house with Emma, didn’t need a changing table, much easier on the floor or the bed. She slept in our bed or a pulled out drawer so no crib. They move through all the stages quickly so borrow the stuff. We had a high chair and a thing that hung from a door jam that she could sit in. Oh and a sling and backpack. Keep it simple.


Tips plus Q & A from Rethink Food Waste Challenge 2020 Participants!

Wasted food is kind of a big deal. Did you know that an average household ends up tossing 1/4 of the food they bring home. The good news is that at the household level, there are many things you can do to waste less of the food. 900 Deschutes County households have now opted-in to the Rethink Food Waste Challenge to learn more about wasted food. By collecting all of their plate scrapings, leftovers-gone-bad, and edible peels each week, folks are able to see what went bad most often and how to change their shopping, storage, or cooking habits appropriately. Want to sign up for the rethink food waste challenge self-guided edition? RethinkWasteProject.org/FoodWaste

Spring 2020 we did an interactive challenge from May 10 – June 7. Folks had great questions, feedback, comments, and even some pretty terrible food-related jokes that are worth sharing. So here we go!

Participant Impressions

  • “This was a very eye-opening activity for me and my family.  We realized that doing less fresh food shopping at Costco, only making big meals that I know my kids will eat the leftovers of, and cutting veggies and fruit as soon as we buy them are key to reducing our food waste.”
  • “I am noticing that the more I focus on food waste, the less I’m spending at the grocery store, yay! But we’re still eating really well.”
  • “Loving our ‘Eat First’ shelf…we actually look there before we plan what to eat at a meal!”
  • “This challenge has really changed how I handle my household’s food buying and cooking. I appreciate all the helpful tips and information on our local area. Thanks!”

Tips and suggestions from participants!

  • Keeping a stock bag in the freezer is a great way to use all veggie scraps.
  • To use up an old stale loaf bread: rinse it in water and put it in the oven at 180* under a hand towel for 5 minutes. The crust crisps up and the center gets moist!  Makes a great sandwich!
  • Keep your avocados in the fridge after they ripen. They stay fresh longer that way.
  • My hack of the week: pesto with anything! Whizz up those leftover herbs up before they go to mush. Cilantro with lime and a mix of peanuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds.
  • When your milk is on the verge of going bad, use it to make bread or add to soups. Don’t do this with raw milk, only spoiled pasteurized milk!
  • Here’s a good tip for instant pot users: When cooking meat, or anything that creates extra liquid, I always freeze any leftover liquids and add them to the next soup or stew I cook.
  • Use pizza crusts your kids leave on the plate for a savory bread pudding, make croutons, or serve them under a soup.
  • Reuse your tea bags: once you accumulate 2-3, put them in a Mason jar to make iced tea!
  • Slice and freeze overripe bananas to add to smoothies or make banana ice cream.
  • Check out An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler which inspired me to simmer my own veggie broth. I highly recommend it.
  • Michele Tam of NomNom Paleo has 2 great recipes on her website for when you need to clean out your produce drawer…one is called garbage stir fry and the other is garbage soup. Terrible names, excellent meals!

Questions and Answers

    1. What do I do with bread loaf ends?I like to dry these out completely and make them into bread crumbs! Then they can be stored in an airtight container or in the freezer. Uses for breadcrumbs? Breaded and pan sauteed proteins or a pasta dish perhaps? Or you can cube the bread loaf ends and make them into croutons for your salad.
    2. Salad greens are my downfall. Greens like arugula, kale, and spinach can be cooked, but what can be done with lettuce before it turns?This was a very common theme during the challenge. Salad gone bad. The best thing to do  is to ONLY buy what you are positive you will eat. But sometimes scheduling gets away from us or we are enticed by a slice of pizza. Here is a blog with some tips on how to use up greens other than in a salad.
    3. Saving my food waste on the counter was really stinky by the end of the week. Is there a way to prevent that?During the challenge, we ask you to save all your food for the entire week so you can weigh how much you’re wasting. One tip: keep your bucket in the fridge! When you aren’t doing the food waste challenge, you can take your compost out every day.
    4. I always get a lot of food waste in my cooler when I go camping. What’s the best way to pack a cooler?Here are my top 4 tips:
      • Don’t store anything in a ziplock, especially not the ice.
      • Instead of ice cubes, freeze water in bottles or use reusable freezer packs.
      • Anything fragile, keep in a rigid container.
      • Plan your meals so you eat the most perishable, fragile things in the first couple of nights.

      Plus, here is a good, thorough article.

    5. I have so many lemons!Ok, that wasn’t a question. But still. Lemons are so versatile! They are useful in nearly every cuisine. I’ve absolutely substituted a lemon for a lime, too.

      …not to mention all the desserts. Mmm..lemon poppyseed cake?

    6. Is there a good way to keep bananas from going bad so quickly?

      A shocking % of participants reached out telling me your bananas are going bad too fast. The best advice I have for you is:

      • Buy them on the green side
      • Only buy the ones you think you can eat in time!
      • Store them on the counter and not next to other foods
      • Store them in a basket and upside-down — sometimes if they are on their side the edges touching the counter get bruised more easily

      Luckily there are so many ways to use up bananas in baking and smoothies. How do YOU use up your bananas?

      Here‘s an article about some interesting techniques to store your bananas. I didn’t vet them, so you’ll have to let me know how it goes!

Less Wasted Food on Farms featuring Boundless Farmstead and Rainshadow Organics.

We in Central Oregon, despite our fame as a semi-desert, are incredibly lucky to have dozens of local food proprietors. From dairies to alpaca farms, from egg-specialists to vegetable gurus. If we’re intentional, we really can live off of only locally sourced food. That is special.

Our national food supply chain has been tested and broken during this time baring an increase in food insecurity AND wasted food: what a confusing dichotomy in a sentence. How can that be? Hungry people and wasted food? I’m not going to even try to out-write Michael Pollan. He has thoroughly and eloquently explored this topic here in his article for the New York Times, “The Sickness in our Food Supply.” Interestingly, as he points out, local farms have been a little more resilient during the COVID pandemic than some large-scale national or multi-national farms. Although coronavirus caused a hard hit to many of our local farms as meat and vegetable suppliers to local restaurants, the farms were able to expand their CSA offerings to reach more local people in a different way. And luckily, our farmer’s markets are all opening this year! Luckily for us and luckily for all of the farms and local businesses who rely on them to exist.

Two Local Farms and Wasted Food Prevention

I got a chance to ask a few questions about food waste on the farm to the amazing folks at both Boundless Farmstead (featured in the header photo)  and Rainshadow Organics (featured in the photo at the end of this article).

First, tell us who you are and what you do for your farm.

Rainshadow: My name is Eleanor Babcock and I am Rainshadow’s Farm Store/Outreach Manager. I manage CSA and farmers market logistics, run our Farm Store, plan and organize our farm to table events, manage website updates, write emails and blog posts, assist with social media marketing, and keep up with general communication and inquiries to the farm.

Boundless: We are David and Megan; farmers, co-owners, and partners in everything.

Why is food waste prevention important to you?

Rainshadow: Spending almost two years at Rainshadow has allowed me to truly experience the seasons of farm food. We begin by planting seeds, which must be closely monitored to ensure proper germination. Once they become seedlings they are very vulnerable to temperature swings and sunlight. We work hard to provide our baby food plants the right environment to grow. We keep them moist and warm, cover them when they need it, and monitor their overall growth. Once the plants are established we harden them off in a propagation house to wear them into the outside environment. Then, once they are big enough, they are transplanted into the ground where they need to be cultivated and weeded many times as they grow bigger. Central Oregon can be harsh and we are constantly covering and uncovering our transplants to ensure they stay at a comfortable temperature. Once they become mature, we harvest, wash, pack, and deliver the food where it is meant to go.

This all being said, my time at Rainshadow has illuminated the amount of energy and constant care it takes to raise organic food. Now that I know how much work and time it took to grow my food, food waste is of the utmost importance. I think it is incredibly important for the community to be aware of how long it takes for their food to grow and how much energy the farmers put into their food, from seed to table:

  • It takes 14 months for an onion to be ready to eat.
  • Potatoes spend eight months in the ground before they are ready to harvest.
  • Tomatoes take 5 months to begin to produce fruit.

And during that time, the farmers are constantly caring for the plants to ensure maximum nutrient-density and production. Once I became aware of that work, wasting good, edible food felt like throwing away time and energy.

What are some things that you do on your farm to prevent food waste?

Boundless: Our entire business is focused on the reduction of food waste for environmental, economical, and social reasons. Environmentally, by growing more food than can be consumed, we are using our precious water unwisely and not using our resources to their full potential. Our farm was founded on our love for the environment and the natural world. We would be doing a disservice to our mission and to our earth by not responsibly utilizing the resources given to us. Economically, by growing more food than can be consumed, we are spending more of our finances on labor, seeds, amendments, etc. Farms already operate on very slim margins and it is crucial we act with efficiency. Socially, by growing more food than can be consumed, we are not growing a fair and equitable product or business.

Of course, to participate in our capitalist society, we must sell some of our product for money. But, by doing so, we are also enabled to donate the remaining product to food pantries. When we can meet our bottom line and have enough money to live personally sustainable lives, then we are able to donate more food.

Our food waste prevention starts at the beginning of the farming process: the crop planning. At Boundless, we do extensive crop planning by talking with chefs/buyers about their needs for the upcoming year, reviewing our numbers from the farmers market and CSA, and comparing year after year. By doing so, we are able to plan exactly how many vegetables we need to seed and plant to reach our harvest goals. During crop planning, we add in a “safety factor” and increase our plantings by 20-30% to ensure we have the quantity we need for the harvest desired. After the harvest begins, we are able to utilize our three outlets (farmers market, CSA, and wholesale) to diversify the potential of products being consumed. If we have a large quantity of something, we talk with our chefs about doing specials, or we do discounts for consumers desiring to do preservation products, etc. When there is product left over beyond the sales outlets, we work closely with the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance and Bend Food Project to either directly donate produce or utilize their “glean team” to help us glean product from the farm.

We also use a lot of “small” food waste prevention techniques including a fast and clean harvest/post-harvest, so that products last longer out of the field, using “seconds” for home preservation or fermentation projects, working with chefs to use our less than perfect produce for items like pestos, purees, etc., and doing twice-weekly whole field walks to determine how all crops look and how best to utilize them in the coming weeks.

Rainshadow: I think many of our interns/apprentices and full-time farm staff are truly aware of the energy it takes to produce food. We don’t find ourselves with much edible food waste on the farm. We have a commercial kitchen where we are licensed to pickle and ferment excess vegetables. Our full-time chef, Travis Taylor works hard to preserve all our extra food as it comes out of the field. If we have any food waste on the farm it is either fed to the pigs or fed to our compost piles which makes a closed-loop circle on the farm. When we feed our compost or moldy/excess food to the pigs, we are transferring that energy to create new food. When we add food waste to the compost, we are creating food for our soil microbes and providing our plants with the necessary nutrients.

What are some barriers to food waste reduction you have encountered or noticed on your farm or on other farms?

Rainshadow: I feel we have implemented many systems to help us reduce any food waste on our farm. We have many different food streams to share our food with the community. We feel so fortunate to have so many outlets for our food. Our commercial kitchen and preservation helps us really mitigate any waste from excess or abundant crops. I could see farms that have more narrow outlets for selling and preserving food having trouble with extras coming out of the field.

Boundless: The biggest barrier we have found on our farm is the lack of time and labor to always be able to donate produce. For example, every late spring, we transition our greenhouses from early-season crops to midseason crops. Typically, we transition beds of spinach, lettuce, salad mix, and arugula, to something like peppers and tomatoes. When the time finally comes to till in the early season crops, we like to cut all of the remaining usable crops and donate them. In 2018 and 2019, we called on HDFFA’s glean team to help us harvest, wash, sort, pack, and deliver. This process would have taken David and me nearly half a day to complete, plus drive time. With the glean team, we are able to donate about 100lbs of greens in less than two hours.

In 2020, due to COVID concerns, we were unable to have the glean team out. When the time came to transition our tunnels, I felt at a loss on how to make it happen. David and I were both completely slammed with farm work and couldn’t take the extra hours to do all of the work needed to donate. Luckily, Seed to Table heard our plea and was able to come to the rescue. We were able to harvest all of the greens, and Seed to Table was able to do the wash, sort, and delivery to food pantries. Without their help, I do not think we would have been able to donate.

Do you have any book / film / lecture recommendations to help folks better understand food waste or innovations to prevent it? And is there anything else you would like to add?

Rainshadow: I really recommend that our community checks our Project Green Bin. This home-composting program collects food scraps from households in Bend and transports them to Rainshadow where they are fed to our pigs. It’s a win-win as our community members now have a stream for their food waste and we contribute to the growth of our tasty pork! If the pigs choose not to eat the scraps, it decomposes in their pasture and feeds the soil we use to plant wheatgrass or triticale in the spring.

  • Rethink Waste: One of our newest Deschutes County hotels, SCP Redmond, has partnered with Project Green Bin and Rainshadow to add their commercial food waste to your pig pen. They also buy back some of your produce and meat products. What a nice local way to close the loop! Also, have you been to their rooftop bar yet?

Boundless: I would recommend everyone buy a canning book or two and get some preservation under their belt! Pickled items and jams are a great way to use “seconds” and are very safe ways to begin canning and preserving!

I would love to add that, as a small farmer, we need our community to have flexibility in aesthetics to ensure minimal food waste. The food that comes to the grocery store is the cream of the crop (pun intended). Those items have been selected for their aesthetics before being shipped off, and then picked through again once they come to the grocery store. There are two points of food waste already in the chain. When we bring our items to the farmers market, most small farms will do some sorting, but we do not want to waste products we know are nutrient dense, super fresh, and maybe just look different than what we are used to. So please, buy the twisted carrot, the split tomato, or the flea beetle bitten arugula, because every piece of produce brought to market was treated with the same love and care as the next, even if it looks a little different.

A Rainshadow pig eating a Rainshadow squash.

Composting when you don’t have a yard or a public service.

  • I live in a small apartment and there is no composting on the property.

  • I have a yard, but my HOA says I can’t have a compost pile.

  • I live outside city limits so I don’t get yard debris service and I don’t want to deal with a compost pile.

Do any of these statements sound like you? I’m here to help! First, learn to reduce your wasted food as much as you can. Here is a link for tips and tricks to do just that with the Rethink Food Waste Challenge. Second, below are a few options that might work for you.

1.) Get a worm bin: learn vermiculture.

Vermiculture, or worm cultivation, is for you if you mainly have fruit and vegetable scraps. In addition to produce, worms will eat eggshells, tea bags, coffee grounds with the filter, and shredded paper. Some sources say other stuff as well: do your own research. Worms can live outside if you insulate their bin. The laundry room or garage is another good place to keep them. Another cool thing: our local Wonder Worman can supply your worms! Here is our guide to Worm Bin Composting for everything you need to know.

2.) Find a friend with a compost pile you can add to!

Or find one who has chickens or pigs. My chickens love any veggie scraps I will spare them.

Scrap-happy chickens from one Rethink Food Waste Challenge participant.

3.) Hire Project Green Bin to pick up your compost.

Project Green Bin is a service here in Central Oregon that will come pick up your compost and take it to Rainshadow Organics where it gets fed to their pigs. You can close the loop by turning your scraps into pork.

4.) Try out Bokashi: a Japanese method of anaerobic composting.

This method sounds really great! I’ve never seen it in action, so will you test it out for me? Bokashi actually ferments food scraps (all food scraps) using microorganisms. Apparently, it has no odor whatsoever. Check out Face Down Waste’s blog post for one person’s experience.

How do you compost?