Doing my part: I could do more, but here's what I do.
I've been writing lately of identity, and the juxtaposition of that with food and family. A large portion of my identity, of my life, is being vegetarian. I don't remember exactly when it happened, but it aligns very closely to when I started subscribing to a CSA - Community Supported Agriculture - a "farm bag" service. You can read about CSAs on one of my additional pages, but I think that this action changed my life. Really. It led to me thinking about how and what I use in my home, because I had to start thinking so purposefully about what I was making for dinner.
As an adult, I've been thinking about my impact on the environment. I don't go to extremes, and I could do more. (This is the same in my not-so-political life, where I'll jump on the bandwagon of emailing my representatives with a pre-written letter, or sign petitions, but don't go beyond that). I try to eliminate paper towels from my life and never fully commit - it's even harder since I live with men who seem to have the use of paper towels ingrained in their identities. They never fully accept the use of cloths...
Anyway. I wanted to write before about how to reduce waste in the kitchen, and got distracted by Trump. So here's what I do to try and combat my waste.
1. Repurpose water.
The greens that come in my farm bag are SO DIRTY. They take two soaks to clear all the dirt (and I'll admit, sometimes that doesn't even do it.) I worry about our supply of water, and how much I waste. I've learned to use the soaking water for other purposes. I'll explain below.
2. Freeze unused goods
This one's pretty obvious, but it ties in with #1. I always keep and frequently use the boxed tomatoes (see my "Pantry Essentials" page). If I don't use a full box (they contain more than a can does) I freeze the rest. If I defrost them, for a meal in which I have also soaked greens, I simply put them in the soaking water, instead of filling a bowl with new water. The freezer bag can stand to share the water with a little dirt!
3. Repurpose leftovers
I've already written about this, multiple times, but I love remaking my leftovers into something else. I still throw away too much food, but I'm getting better! Last week, I remade my taco beans into enchiladas with green chile sauce. They were delicious, and it kept me from throwing away beans I'd tired of.
4. Use extras for something else
When I used the tomatoes (above) in this delicious meal that also used some CSA-provided swiss chard, I made too much seashell pasta. It sat in a bag in my fridge, waiting for a meal. Just when I was ready to throw it away, I realized it could go into this equally delicious white chili. You can only see one shell, but you get the idea.
5. Don't panic.
I am a selfish tenderheart. Meaning I often talk-the-talk, but I don't always walk-the-walk. I have so many IMPORTANT OPINIONS but I often speak them instead of DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THEM. So, when I am "doing my part" by reducing waste, I panic when I mess something up because, as a selfish person, this is what I can say that I actually do that is a good thing. That meal with the red beans, above - I messed it up. I've written before about how this sends me into something akin to panic and depression. I had to go with it. I took it out of the oven, stirred what I'd left off into the mix, and topped it with more cheese. I wanted that cheesy crust, damn it! So I ended up with more cheese. Panic at potential waste replaced with guilt about making it more cheesy. More delicious. When I bemoaned my waste of water that I could have repurposed on another occasion, I had to shake it off. Reducing waste is a process. Hopefully I can get the aforementioned men on board.
Perhaps you already do this things and this was too obvious. I just get so darn proud of myself when I come up with a way to change my behavior for the better. That's the selfishness in me rearing its head, I suppose!