Our Journey to Zero Waste & Tips We Learned Along the Way

cropped imageAt Second Harvest, we always strive to operate as sustainably as we can by ensuring that as much food as possible reaches those in need. But we wanted to go even further by achieving Zero Waste certification, which required us to update our protocols and practices to be as eco-friendly as possible.

Over the last two and a half years, we have undertaken a long, complex process to become a designated zero-waste organization. This was no small endeavor. It required our team to go through an intensive training process and address specific parameters through the world’s leading sustainability and health certification organization, Green Business Certification Inc., under the TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) rating system.

Along the way we learned a handful of tips and tricks that we’d like to share so that you can reduce your own carbon footprint:

1. Reduce plastic use. One easy way to reduce plastic use is to purchase reusable utensils to keep in your car or at work to avoid using disposable cutlery. Plastic pollution (the accumulation of plastic in the Earth’s environment) can alter habitats and natural processes, reducing ecosystems’ ability to adapt to climate change, affecting livelihoods, food production capabilities and social well-being.

2. Switch to recycled paper. Paper production can lead to deforestation, uses massive amounts of energy and water and contributes to air pollution and waste problems. That’s why we switched our paper to 30% recycled paper – this is an easy switch for us all to make. Recycled paper reduces greenhouse gas emissions, conserves landfill space and reduces energy and water consumption.

3. Replace single-use items with multi-use items. This approach can be as easy as keeping reusable grocery bags in the car rather than purchasing paper or plastic bags to carry groceries home. Try replacing paper towels with old towels or rags for cleaning countertops – it can take some time to make a new habit, but doing so keeps the environment and your wallet healthy in the long run!