The Habit of Giving
A personal goal of mine this upcoming year is to develop the habit of giving back. Lots of us (guilty 🙋🏼♀️) tend to “wait” until we have a certain amount of time or money to give back to the community. But the truth is that we all have something to give now; we just need to make it a priority.
There’s a quote by Anne-Marie Bonneau of Zero Waste Chef who says, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” I think this concept applies to giving back too. Small matters, so start small. Start today. Then give more when you can. Here are five (food-related) ways to give back this holiday season and beyond!
Recycle (And Use Less Plastic!)
Give back to the earth by using less plastic.
I recently watched this video about how most “recyclable” plastics are never actually recycled and was shocked. Keep this in mind while grocery shopping (think glass, cans, and bulk bins > plastic).
For hard-to-recycle items, TerraCycle offers free recycling programs for certain brands and also the option to purchase a Zero Waste Box, which allows you to recycle almost any type of waste. Having to pay for recycling also makes you way more conscientious about packaging before purchasing.
For more ways to become more eco-friendly in the kitchen, check out this interview.
In my own sustainability journey, composting has been one of the easiest changes I’ve made this year. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 20% of what goes into landfills is food waste, which takes about 25 years (!) to decompose and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting can greatly help reduce the amount of food that goes into landfills.
Most cities and towns now have either public or private composting programs, making it possible to compost even if you don’t have a backyard (I don’t!). A quick Google search should give you some options! I use this countertop compost bin in my kitchen and New York City provides a larger bin for my building, so I take out my compost just like I would trash. So easy.
Support Local Farmers
Supporting local farmers is a great way to be more sustainable and give back to the economy of your local community. Shop at local farms or farmers’ markets or join a CSA (community-supported agriculture where you buy a “share” of a farm’s harvest in advance and then receive a portion of the crops as they’re harvested).
You can also donate money to charities doing work to support organic farming. Here are a few that have received the highest rating on Charity Navigator:
Donate Food or Money
Do you know what’s in your pantry right now? Take inventory. Most people are surprised by how much food has been sitting in the back of their cabinets gathering dust. Donate any unopened, non-expired food items that you don’t want. My favorite resource for finding a local food bank is Feeding America.
There are also many charities dedicated to ending hunger or providing kids have access to healthy food in the US and beyond. Here are a few that have received the highest ratings on Charity Navigator:
Donate Your Time
Time is a valuable resource too. If you don’t have the money to donate to a charity, you can donate your time. Explore the websites of the charities linked above, or find a charity that’s local to you on Charity Navigator, to see how they could use your help.
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