NRRI Sustainability Coordinator, Tiffany Sprague, helps us all live out our best, sustainable lives at work and at home. In this blog, she shares tips for making eco-friendly resolutions for the new year.
Why hello friends, family, followers and fans! It’s been a hot minute. I got a bit bogged down at the end of 2022 with work and life. I know it may be hard to believe I live a life outside of sorting recycling, tracking my carbon footprint and bringing you all.the.tips. (Like in grade school, when you see your teacher at the grocery store -- your tiny child brain nearly exploding!)
Like everyone, I resolve to be a completely different person in 2023, a superbly better version of my 2022 self. Easily accomplishable. Besides organizing every corner of my home, following in the ways of my rabbit ancestors and consuming my body weight in darky leafy greens on a daily basis, I also like to toss in a sustainability goal or two every year. This year we resolved to revisit a habit we used to have – making our own dairy-free milk.
Do you also wish to have a sustainability goal for 2023 but are unsure where to start? Well, you’ve come to the right place. I conveniently have a few tips to help you on your journey.
If you’ve been reading Tiff’s Tips for a while, I know this is starting to sound like a broken record (Do the kids even say this anymore? Do they even know what records are?! Sigh.), but meals and snacks are one of the easiest ways for us to get hip with it and generate less waste. Some tips:
Compost food scraps. Check with your community for commercial compost options, or start up a backyard composter, worm bin in the home, maybe one of those new fancy countertop machines, or get some chickens. Tiff’s Tips from March 2022 has more details on this.
Make one snack that you typically buy packaged. Or, can you switch from a single-wrapped version of your snack to finding it in bulk? Then you can portion out your snack into a reusable container! July 2021’s article on snacks and travel gives all the deets.
- Make milk! If you want to be just like me (obvi), and resolve to make your own milk this year, then you need to make sure you have a good blender, a nut milk machine, or a backyard cow. I’d recommend checking with your community’s ordinances to see if you can have a cow first before you go too far down this path. If a cow is out, and oats are in, then grab your blender, and cheesecloth or nut milk bag, and get to blending and squeezing. The internet is your oyster for homemade dairy-free milk recipes, and I’ve included my go-to recipe at the end. Your trash can will thank you when it is no longer full of milk cartons each week. Yes, plastic jugs can be recycled, but those waxed-lined cartons are typically trash; each community has a different policy on these so check with your waste hauler.
Your Lawn & Garden
While I know many of us are still bundled up inside looking out upon a winter wonderland, it is never too early to start thinking about your landscaping situation. Also, this allows you to push off this goal for a few more months, giving you time to implement your new workout routine and perfect your kale salad recipe in the meantime. A win-win!
- Stop mowing. Okay, maybe that feels dramatic, but what about mowing less? Or, converting a small section of lawn to a garden?! Vegetable garden. Pollinator garden. Native grasses garden. The options are endless, and the October 2021 and May 2022 articles provide further landscaping inspiration.
- Hold the salt. Those beautiful flowers, and even your grass, are not huge fans of a salty situation. Tackle the NaCl (sodium chloride, non-chemists!), and make sure to shovel to the best of your abilities, scatter salt on days above 15 degrees F, and a coffee cup’s worth of salt will likely do. January 2022’s article tells you how to salt smart!
- Bring the garden indoors! Okay, maybe it really is too early to start planning the yard of your dreams, so let’s bring the outdoors in. A windowsill herb garden would pump out a little oxygen, reduce packaging waste (why must herbs come in those plastic containers?!), add a little green to your life, and give you someone to talk to on those chilly, dark January nights. Our cat unfortunately does not allow herb gardens to live, but we did discover she detests lavender, so we have our first indoor plant in 16 years! We now make little lavender sachets we put in our pillowcases to lull us into a fragrant, deep sleep.
In short, your resolutions should not make you feel guilty about what you are, or are not, doing. Identify where you can make a positive impact for our planet that is obtainable, fits your lifestyle, and makes you feel good. Maybe it is remembering to bring your reusable bags to the store this week. Or getting your fancy coffee beverage in a travel mug, rather than a throw-away cup. How about thrifting that new sweater or piece of furniture? Or, for just one week, skipping the individually plastic wrapped string cheese. Whatever your goal, a commitment towards reducing your impact and supporting our natural resources is a positive step forward.
May the new year be filled with happiness (and not single-use plastic).
Until next month,
Bonus: Homemade Almond Milk Recipe
1 cup raw almonds
4 cups water
1 tbsp maple syrup
- Place almonds in bowl, cover with water, soak 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain almonds and rinse them.
- Place almonds, 4 cups water, maple and salt in blender and blend for 2 minutes (seriously, 2 minutes, set a timer).
- Pour milk through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag (make sure to have a container below to catch the milk).
- Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze and squeeze some more.
- Store milk in fridge for ~3 days. Compost pulp or look up how to dry it and use it in baking.