Our world has been upended in the past few months and we’ve seen many changes both for the better and for worse. Moving into the coming months as our economy reopens, TVCR hopes that you will continue to embrace new sustainable practices that you may have picked up recently such as bread baking, home cooking, and growing your own food; and try to reclaim those practices that may have been taken away from you in the name of sanitation such as bringing your own grocery bags and refusing all of the trash that comes with take-out food.
We’ve come up with a few suggestions to help you navigate the local landscape while still minimizing waste. Share your tips and tricks with us on Facebook or Instagram as we love to learn from our inspired community.
1. Grocery shopping – Locally, stores no longer allow you to use refillable containers at the bulk bins and Broulim’s has gone as far as to ban bringing your own reusable grocery totes in the name of hygiene. While this is not grounded in science, we must abide by store policies and respect our grocery staff. If allowed, bring your own reusable shopping bags. You will likely be asked to bag them yourself. Keep your bags clean with regular washing. If reusable bags are not allowed, consider asking the management to change the policy as there is no data supporting that plastic bags are safer. Some stores allow you to put your groceries in their old produce boxes which you can recycle later. Alternatively, tell the cashier that you don’t need a bag; load your naked groceries back into the cart; wheel the cart out to your car and load your reusable bags or bins in the parking lot. If you end up with some unwanted plastic shopping bags, remember that they can be used in a variety of ways, from picking up pet poop, bagging your CSA vegetables, or used as kitchen trash bags. If all else fails, these plastic bags (and other clear stretchy plastic film like bread bags and bubble wrap) can be recycled at the Broulim’s front entrance or in Jackson at any of their recycling collection sites.
Also worth noting, the Driggs Farmers’ Market will be running every Friday this summer for food purchases using appropriate COVID precautions. They will only be selling food, not crafts. We are also blessed with a number of small farms that sell direct to consumers through the CSA model. If you are worried about meat scarcity, stay tuned for the 4H livestock auction in August to buy local and support hardworking kids.
2. Restaurants – As restaurants reopen, you will notice a lot more single-use disposable items – everything from menus to utensils. With a little advanced planning and good communication with the restaurant, you can minimize some of this unnecessary waste. Pack a small “eating out kit” which can include a full set of silverware from home wrapped in a cloth napkin. If you like straws, add a reusable stainless steel straw and throw in some sort of a leftover container in your bag (anything from a yogurt container to a glass dish with a lid will work fine.) When you arrive, ask if the restaurant has their menu on-line rather than disposable and let them know that you’ve brought your own tableware, so they can remove the place setting and use it for another patron. Take-out food from restaurants has definitely increased household trash, but hopefully families are practicing more home cooking, meal planning, and other measures to reduce overall food waste.
3. DIY Face masks/Face coverings – While most people in Teton Valley own a buff or bandana which will help cover your face and protect yourself and others, you can also upcycle a t-shirt and make some easy no-sew fabric masks with this quick tutorial video.
4. DIY Washable Sanitizing Wipes – We recommend that you carry a small refillable bottle of hand sanitizer when you go out on the town. Wipes are really convenient too, but the single use ones just end up in the trash. Here are simple instructions for making CDC approved sanitizing wipes. We recommend you cut up old shirts, sheets, or towels to make washable wipes. You can carry them in a tupperware or ziploc bag to wipe down shared surfaces before you touch them, then toss them in a bag to wash with your regular laundry. Viruses are quickly deactivated by soap, bleach, alcohol, and other cleansing agents.
Keep composting, recycling your rinsed recyclables, and making low waste consumer choices as our economy recovers.
We hope that your family is weathering the pandemic in good health and taking this opportunity to examine your habits to see how you can waste less in this time where there is a global resurgence of single-use disposable items. Be safe, be prudent, but still consider your impact.
If you are interested in reading more, here’s a great article from Wired magazine on Zero Waste Living During Coronavirus.