Climate change is a big and looming issue, but it doesn’t have to be so intimidating. The (Com)Post is The Eagle’s new sustainability series that breaks down topics in eco-friendly living in a fresh, actionable and fun way.
What is zero waste? Why do we do it?
Living zero waste simply means not sending anything to the landfill. This includes plastics, trash and excess food, all of which have a massive impact on the environment. In fact, if global food waste was a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China. Plus, the bulk of food packaging is made from plastics that could take up to 500 years or more to decompose when sent to the landfill instead of the recycled.
Those who try to live a zero waste lifestyle often focus on eliminating their trash and plastic use. Many plastics have limited recycling capabilities, unlike glass and metal which can be recycled infinitely. Often recycled plastic products are “downcycled,” which means they become an inferior product. Downcycling occurs when the original product has been contaminated by other materials and cannot be made into something equal to the original quality.
Furthermore, everytime plastic is recycled, its polymer chains become shorter, which decreases quality, and only allows for 2-3 recycling lives before the items cannot become repurposed anymore and ultimately must go to the landfill.
How to cook a zero waste meal
Planning is important—make sure to plan your meals ahead of time so you don’t create excess food or trash waste when you’re picking up ingredients at the grocery store. Look for items without packaging (use bulk bins or deli/fish/bread counters) and bring your own containers or reusable mesh bags. If you do buy packaged items, look for things that come in paper boxes (such as pasta) or glass jars (such as marinara sauce).
Shopping zero waste can also be cost effective, especially bulk bin items. Usually, grains, legumes, nuts and flours are cheaper in the bulk bins than their packaged versions. Fish and meats at grocery counters are the same price if you bring your own container as they would be wrapped in plastic or paper. This recipe came out to be $3.25 per serving.
- 1 cup of quinoa
- ½ onion
- ½ zucchini
- ½ bell pepper
- ½ cup of corn and peas mix
- 2 eggs
- 2-4 tbsp of soy sauce
- 1-2 tbsp of oil, butter, or cooking spray would also work
- Heat 1 cup of quinoa and in 1 ½ cups of water. When it comes to a rolling boil, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork occasionally.
- While quinoa is cooking, chop veggies (you can use the ones above or any veggies of your choice) and sauté in a separate pan.
- After veggies are cooked and quinoa is ready, add quinoa to the veggie mixture and add soy sauce to taste.
- Crack eggs, adding them to pan. Once eggs begin to cook, scramble them into the rest of the mixture. Make sure everything is evenly distributed and add peas and corn. Add more soy sauce to taste and voila!