Tips for Residents During Stay At Home
Minimize Waste During Stay-at-Home During this difficult time, moving toward zero waste may not be at the top of our to-do lists. The COVID-19 restrictions present multiple challenges to our usual waste reduction habits. For example, the ban on reusable bags and cups forces us to use more disposables, we may overbuy as we try to reduce trips to the store, and drop-off facilities for household hazardous waste or donation items are closed. But it is still possible—and desirable—to waste as little as possible as we strive to stay healthy and sane.
Making the Most of Our Food During Stay-at-Home
These days we may be buying more at each trip to the store, so we don’t go as often. We are preparing most, if not all meals, at home. As our routines change, let’s make sure we prevent food waste as much as possible. Here are some tips to get started:
- Shopping: Make a list and check what foods you already have, maybe hiding in the back of your fridge or pantry, to avoid unnecessary purchases
- Storage: Fridge, pantry or countertop? Where and how you store fresh produce really affects its shelf-life
- Organize your fridge: Use clear, labeled containers to find and remember foods. Designate an area for most perishable items to use up first.
- Leftovers: They’re are instant meals or can be the base for a new dish. Try fried rice or pot pie to use up ingredients.
- Expiration dates: They mark peak freshness, but most foods are safe to eat beyond the “best by” date. Your senses can help you assess.
What to Do with Extra Bags and Boxes
Are you ordering in more during Stay-at-Home? As we get more deliveries and can’t use our reusable bags at stores, paper and plastic bags and cardboard boxes are piling up! Here are some tips:
- Paper bags: Store and reuse them, for example to hold kitchen scraps for compost.
- Plastic bags: They’re not recyclable in your curbside cart. Use them to store fruit and vegetables in the fridge and to dispose of pet waste.
- Avoid bags: Many shoppers are choosing, when possible, to just put their items back into their cart or basket without taking a bag, and then pack up items in their car or bicycle.
- Reuse boxes: Keep those boxes to store items, such as things you’re saving for donation later
- Recycle boxes: Break them down to fit into recycling bins, making sure the lid closes.
Collect, Sort and Store
After staying at home for weeks, you may be more aware of clutter and be moved to remove! Are you looking at piles of items to donate or recycle? Unfortunately, during the shelter-at-home order, many facilities for drop-off and donation are closed or reducing services, including those that collect paint, batteries, bulbs, hazardous waste and e-waste. At this time, it’s best to collect, sort and store your no-longer-needed items to take for reuse, recycling and donation after we get the all-clear. Tip: Save some of the cardboard boxes you have received from deliveries or online orders to store items. Make sure to label them clearly!
Zero Waste Yard Work
For those of us lucky enough to have a yard, gardening can be a great way to get fresh air, relax and spend time with the family outside. Even better if your garden work creates zero waste or even reduces waste! It’s easy with these tips from Zero Waste Marin:
- Yard and garden waste, such as clippings, flowers, grass and leaves, can go in your green cart.
- Maybe now’s the time to start composting at home! Find tips and resources at zerowastemarin.org/home-composting-yard-waste-tips.
- Time to move along those tired pots or that statue that no longer appeals? Collect them in your “to donate” box and find them a new home when the stay-at-home is lifted.
- Some things never change! Pet waste should always, always go in the garbage.