Getting people to change their shopping habits to zero waste is REALLY hard.

Most people have been grocery shopping for years and don’t have the mental energy to make (what they see as) a big change.

Moving from a store with familiar, colorful packaging that they recognize in an instant to a store with clean glass jars, a deposit and return system and the ability to check out on your phone can be mind blowing!

The best way we’ve seen to get people to change is by SHOWING them rather than just telling them.

So your challenge today is simple.

Challenge 14:

Bring a friend (who has never shopped with us) to Nude Foods Market at some point THIS week and you’ll BOTH get 15% off ALL your purchases.

All you need to do is introduce them to a Nude Foods team member as a new shopper and they’ll give you the code for 15% off.

 

Taking your meal to go has some serious consequences.

Single-use bags, plastic bottles, food containers and food wrappers are the four most widespread items polluting the seas, making up almost half of the human-made waste.

And depressingly, plastic use tripled since the start of the pandemic and takeout waste is at least partly to blame.

At the current rate, online orders are projected to grow tenfold by 2030. UGH.

You can immediatly limit your takeout waste by making small changes:

  • Request no disposable napkins, plastic utensils, straws and unnecessary condiments
  • Opt out of a plastic bag
  • Reuse your to-go containers
  • Support businesses making eco-friendly choices

But we don’t like to do things by halves, so here are things you can do to REALLY make a difference:

Use Repeater:

Get your takeout without the trash with Repeater, a Boulder-based reusable takeout container program.

Simply download the app on Apple or Android and find a participating restaurant.

Select the “Pack in Repeater Reusables” menu item when ordering takeout or delivery from that restaurant, and you’ll receive your meal in their reusable containers.

Once you’re done eating, return the containers at one of the drop-off bins (you can drop them at Nude Foods which is where Repeater stores and washes all their containers) and they’ll sanitize and reuse them : )

That way, you can keep enjoying your favorite takeout, without the waste. Sign-up now and get $3 in your Repeater wallet for free!

Here’s a list of restaurants they’re currently in. Please support them so they can keep growing!

Fresh Thymes
Leaf
Zeal
Cafe Aion
Brasserie Boulder
The BOCO Restaurant
Naked Lunch
Gurkha’s On The Hill
Yellowbelly
Ash’Kara Boulder
Rincon Empanadas
Cilantros Mexican Restaurant
Las X Food Truck
Pastificio

Order In but Take Out:

However hard I explain that I don’t want single use packaging, something plastic always ends up in my order so instead I go to the restaurant, order food then when it comes I scrape into tupperware and head straight home to share it with my family. 

This obviously works best in more take out style restaurants like Native Foods rather than going somewhere super fancy!

Just Eat In:

Being British, takeout is less of a cultural norm to me. I find the food doesn’t taste as good, I find the ordering process stressful (when I’m hungry I don’t want to have to wait an hour to get the food!) and the packaging piece of it just kills me. Plus you have to clear up afterwards. Honestly, I think it’s easier, more delicious and less wasteful to just cook yourself OR just eat in.

Eating in gives you a real break. You get your food way quicker. Someone brings your food to you and clears it up after you. You get quality time with family or friends and when you get home, there’s no mess to clean up or ‘stuff’ to dispose of. Win-win-win!

Order Extra:

Finding the time to cook can be hard so another thing I do is order 2 meals at a restaurant, eat one and put the second into my own container for the next night. That way dinner is sorted and no waste was created. I especially love to do this when I venture to the vegan restaurants in Denver. My faves are Blue Sushi Sake Grill (best vegan sushi in the world!), Watercourse Foods and City o’ City. At City o’ City I order extra ‘Chicken’ and waffles to take home plus their BBQ ‘ribs’.

Food Trucks:

I love going to the Rayback Collective especially on vegan food truck night. There’s lots of food choice plus

Challenge 13:

Download the Repeater app and order from a restaurant that uses them OR try the order in and take out method.

 

It’s GREAT to be as zero waste as we possibly can but you’re just one person. The biggest impact we can have is by sharing the zero waste message far and wide, and voting with our $$$.

For example, in the last 6 months I have walked into Noodles Restaurant 3 times with my kids and each time we discover they are STILL only doing food in dreadful plastic whether you eat in or out so we explain to them that we’re not willing to eat there again until they bring back reusable plates and silverware.  ALSO, even when they do have reusable plates and silverware, the kids meals always come in a plastic tray so we just order our kids an adult meal and take the leftovers home in tupperware.

So what can you do?

At Restaurants:

  1. Ensure you say ‘no straw please’ to your server BEFORE they go get your drinks. If they bring you one anyway, let them know why you asked them not to – spread the word – and make a point of not using it. Be obnoxious and take it out and leave it on the table : )
  2. If a restaurant offers you a landfill-destined cup for water, ask for an alternative or just use your water bottle. At Flower Child for example, they give out single use plastic-coated cups but when I ask for an alternative, they give me a lovely glass mason jar. (I also then tell them how sad I think it is that they don’t automatically give these to everyone.)
  3. Tell your server that your kids do NOT need plastic sippy cups. Bring their own bottles if you’re worried about spills or let them use grown up glasses.
  4. Ask for REAL silverware when offered plastic. At the French cafe in Boulder they were more than happy to oblige.
  5. Email the restaurant and express your disappointment at their environmental impact and suggest alternatives that customers love e.g. metal water cups.

At Schools:

  1. Question everything plastic. Be a squeaky wheel. I luckily have 2 other amazing Moms at my kids school who are as squeaky (if not squeakier!) than I am about avoiding plastic use. We regularly write to the Principal.
  2. Speak Up: When you see pointless waste happening, go over and say something. For example, Boulder High put on a Halloween event for the kids at our school and it mostly consists of a ton of black plastic bags taped together. I watched as they pulled it down so went over to talk to their teacher about what would happen to it. They were going to trash it so we had a discussion about how it could be kept and used for the next year. While this might not have happened (I have no idea) it will have planted a seed in his head and make him think twice when he puts it in the trash.
  3. Sit on the PTA or the Environmental Group. We managed to get reusable party plates, cups and silverware for each class to use as all parties until then were filled with trash.

At the Grocery Store:

  1. I sometimes pretend I’m doing a survey for a local marketing company and ask people their reasons for putting vegetables (particularly those with skins) into plastic bags. Often they don’t have a good answer and you can see them really considering why they’re doing this.
  2. Yesterday I saw a guy leave his car running the entire time he was in the store so I politely reminded him that this was illegal in Colorado. It didn’t go down well but I bet he won’t do it again!
  3. Talk to the cashiers. Encourage them to not push bags on people.
  4. Bring back all the packaging from the food you bought and tell them it’s their problem. If we all did this, packaging would reduce significantly.

Post on Social Media:

  1. Share your own successes. Share a photo of your Go Bag and tell people how awesome you feel about saving all that waste.
  2. Post about your favorite zero waste grocery store (hint: It’s Nude Foods Market ; ) and tell them about a specific product they should try there or a special offer that’s on
  3. Post about recycling and composting rules, post about CHaRM. In fact, share anything fun you’ve learned on this 21-Day Challenge that you think others might find interesting.

Talk to Friends and Family:

  1. This is BY FAR the hardest one as you don’t want to be super obnoxious and lose friends : ) I mostly try to lead by example and avoid preaching but the occasional ‘did you know’ can be received okay. E.g. did you know they also offer real silverware here? I hate eating with this plastic stuff, don’t you? Did you know that these cups take thousands of years to break down in landfill, it breaks my heart when I see them being offered out in restaurants.
  2. There are SO many people who have come back to me later, sometimes years later, and proudly told me that they no longer bag their veggies or they don’t use glad wrap anymore and you realize that all it takes is a little seed in their mind to create a big change. And others tell me I’m the voice in their head when they’re getting a take out coffee and they feel really guilty ha ha!
  3. Buy them zero waste gifts! Buy a gift card to Nude Foods Market as a birthday / new baby / new house gift or give them something like this cool rainbow silverware set or a fab reusable coffee cup.

Apps you can use to stop Plastic:

We love Remark which helps you send sustainability feedback to businesses in less than a minute and was founded by a Nude Foods customer!

And PlasticScore which is a crowdsourced zero-waste rating for restaurants take out and dine in packaging.

In Conclusion:

I know I sound pretty obnoxious in this post. Saying something scares the crap out of me every time because the reaction isn’t always particularly positive. But I do it because some things are more important than my comfort and I’ve seen over and over again, that by just planting a seed, you can grow a big tree of change.

P.S. If you’re looking for a great restaurant, I have recently discovered Cup of Peace at Arapahoe and 33rd (just near Nude Foods). They are really thoughtful about their impact and have great food. BUT do not get take out as they still put that in a plastic bag : ( More on that tomorrow!

Challenge 12:

Download Remark and PlasticScore and review a restaurant that you know uses way to much plastic packaging.

As much as we might try to deny it, shopping is fun! Getting a new outfit, a great item for your home or a new piece of sports equipment is exciting.

But 10% of global emissions come from the clothing industry and it’s clogging up landfill too!

Well, you can actually have it all. You can have the fun without all the guilt by shopping second hand.

Here are my favorite places to shop:

Household Items (think vacuums, Instant Pots, shelves etc)

Boulder’s Virtual Yard SaleCraigslist, Buy Nothing Boulder. or Facebook Marketplace.

Clothes

Common Threads, Apocalypse, Plato’s Closet or Rags in Boulder.

Or online at Poshmark, ThredUp, Swap.com, Mercari, Goodfair or Facebook Marketplace.

For extra fun, have a clothes swap party with friends or just shop your closet. I went 18 months without buying any new clothes or shoes and it was actually super liberating. When events (like weddings) came up, instead of having that mad panic to go find the perfect outfit, I knew I had to find it in my closet somewhere and so I did : )

Outdoor Gear

In Boulder there’s  Boulder Sports Recycler and Play It Again Sports.

Online you have Patagonia Worn Wear, Gear Trade, REI Used Outdoor Gear, Out&Back Outdoor and The North Face Renewed

Furniture

Most towns have a ton of thrift shops you can browse but if you’re looking for something specific and more highend, check out these online options.

1st Dibs, AptDeco, Chairish, Etsy, FloorFound, Kaiyo, One Kings Lane (sells both new and used), Rejuvenation, Sotheby’s Home (for antiques) and Sunbeam Vintage.

Kids Stuff

In Boulder, I let my kids run free and buy whatever they want at Art Parts because it’s all used arts and craft stuff.

I also LOVE Childish Things. When my kids were little I used to get everything here and it’s still my go to for clothes and shoes. And of course Boulder Babies Free Swap which is a Facebook page where you can ask for items people are giving away and even request things that may not be listed.

I also have friends and family members with older kids save the stuff their kids grow out of and I offer to take it off their hands. They’re happy because they don’t have to deal with taking it to the thrift store and because a lot of stuff gets a second use on my kids. When my eldest was born a friend was giving away ALL her baby stuff and was so grateful that we were willing to just take it all. Most people just want it OUT of their houses once they no longer need it.

 

Challenge 11:

Go shopping! Pop into a consignment store or get online and treat yo’self, you deserve it : ) Share a pic of what you bought / acquired for free.

 

My mind boggles about the number of occasional use items we all own.

Power drills for the 3x a year we’ll use them.

In Boulder, a ton of people have snow blowers for the 7 times a year we get to snow blow.

SO MANY TOOLS in the garage that are used once and then probably never again.

Cars that sit unused for days.

Books that we read once and then leave on the shelf.

Toys kids lose interest in that remain unloved in the toy box.

Driving solo from Boulder to Eldora to fill up an overflowing parking lot.

There has to be a better way and good news, there is!

Resource Central

Resource Central’s Tool Library hosts a centralized inventory of more than 300 hand, electric, and gas-powered tools. In other words, if you need a tool, you can just go and rent it for as long as you need it. It’s lower cost than buying and means that instead of sitting unused at your house, when you’re not using it, someone else can : )

Home Depot also offers a great tool rental program.

Snow Blow your Neighborhood

While not everyone needs to snow blow, this is simply an example of how neighborhoods can get together to share resources. Why not buy a snow blower between you and each time it snows, someone has a turn to snow blow the entire neighborhood?

Car Share

In Boulder we’re lucky enough to have an amazing car sharing club called Colorado Car Share. There are cars placed all over Boulder and you can book them online for as little as an hour. You simply use the fob they send you when you sign up to unlock the car and drive away. It is SO SIMPLE. Nude Foods Market uses them when we have extra deliveries to make or something big to pick up. They have lots of electric vehicles and a ton of different sizes to choose from.

You save on insurance, maintenance and the waste of your car sitting unused when you don’t need it.

Turo

Like Airbnb for cars. You post your car and people can rent it.

Lyft / Uber

Consider getting rid of your car entirely and just using Lyft and Uber. I think you might be surprised that it can cost less than owning your own car! And you’re basically being chauffeur driven!

Read this account of someone who ditched their car in favor of these ride sharing services.

Lime Scooters

These are fun little scooters placed all over town. You can pick one up almost anywhere and simply take it to where you want to go and snap a photo of it when you’re done. To unlock a Lime-S, simply scan the QR code located on the handlebars or the baseboard using the Lime app.

B-Cycle

B-Cycle is Boulder’s own bike sharing service and tons of other cities around the world have these. These bikes have dedicated stations all over town where you can pick up a bike then you simply return them to another station. This makes it slightly less flexible than Lime but a great option if you live near a station!

The Library (and Libby)

My kids LOVE going to the library to choose a book. It makes an event of it rather than them just picking up a book off the shelf at home.

And if you haven’t heard of Libby then I am about to blow your mind….

Libby is an app that allows you to borrow digital and audiobooks from your local library right to your cell phone or kindle. I use it every single day to listen to an audiobook while going to sleep.

You can even borrow magazines and cookbooks!

Airbnb / VRBO

Although these have now morphed into more official holiday rental property sites, the original idea behind them was people sharing their own homes so that travellers could get more of a locals experience and people could make money renting unused space.

We rent our home on Airbnb and while it’s a TON of work to get it in shape every time, the money is nice and we have made some great connections with our guests.

Toy Sharing

I mentioned this in another post but it’s worth reiterating here. Instead of buying new toys that your kids will get bored of, subscribe to a toy library. You can get ‘new’ toys whenver you are done with the old ones (when you send them back.)

Check out Green Pinata, Toy Library and Whirli.

OR set up your own local Toy Sharing community, I’ve got to admit I’m kind of tempted…….!

Challenge 10:

Make a list of how you can use the sharing economy even more than you likely already are.

 

Register for at least one of them!

 

 

We have become such a throw away culture that we tend to chuck things in the bin if they’re broken / we don’t need them anymore. Here are some alternative options:

Electronic Items:

In Boulder we have a shop called UbreakIfix. Everyone thinks they’re just for phones but I’ve taken a microwave, a bike light, a hairdryer and 2 laptops in there – almost all of which they’ve managed to fix. They evaluate it for free so there’s literally no downside to taking it in there. They’ll even recycle it for you if they can’t fix it and you don’t want it back.

Bikes:

Take a bike to almost any bike shop and get it fixed up OR learn to do it yourself with Community Cycles. They not only offer refurbished bikes for sale but are also an educational center for bike care and repair, seeking to provide equitable access to bicycles for everyone in the community.

Clothes:

If I didn’t know better, I’d think my kids spent their lives crawling on their hands and knees because they get SO MANY HOLES in their leggings. Instead of just throwing them in the bin, I have taken to (very badly) sewing them up myself. It’s a win-win because I feel very proud of myself and they get more wear out of their clothes! To make it easy, I keep an old wicker basket with needles and thread in which I buy from Art Parts or acquire from kids toy kits that they end up not using.

More Clothes:

Shopping second hand is SO fun and so much less impact on the planet (more about that in another post) but it does mean that not all sizes are available. If you find something you love but it doesn’t fit you, you can always alter it. I bought an amazing dress for a friend’s 40th, took it to Boulder Custom Tailoring (just near Nude Foods) where they took it up, added shoulder pads and made it a little less low cut! (I’m the one on the left).

 

Outdoor Gear:

I have been skiing in the same ski outfit for 15 years and often wonder if I’ll still be skiing in it when I’m 80! It’s pretty hard wearing but the insides of my pant legs got a bit cut up from my skis so I took them to Boulder Mountain Repair which specializes in repairing outdoor gear and they sewed extra tough patches on the inside ankles and I’ve had no problems since. They also repair packs, sleeping bags, tents and more! Bare Boulder also offers this service AND if you have an idea to create a piece of outdoor gear yourself, they can even prototype it for you!

Tools:

Take them to locally-owned McGuckin’s Hardware for repair or servicing.

Pretty Much Anything…..

This is really the jewel in the crown of Boulder’s ‘fix-it’ community – Boulder U-Fix-It Clinic.  At Boulder U-Fix-It Clinic events, people bring all sorts of broken appliances, toys, electronics, clothing, and jewelry and work with volunteer coaches to learn hands-on repair skills. A set of tools is available for each participant to use.

Challenge 9:

Put together a little sewing kit if you don’t have one already then find something with a hole in and sew it up! It doesn’t have to be pretty. Take a photo and share it!