Environmental & Sustainability People and Leaders

Cutting Plastic is a Goal of Sustainability Outreach (FREE)

Do you want to use less plastic wrap? Sometimes you can just invert a plate over a bowl of leftovers in the refrigerator -- This article was written by David Goldstein, an environmental resource analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency (California). This is a FREE article.

Are you being seduced by sweet and salty flavors and by the lure of convenience in single-serving, processed, plastic packaged meals? Perhaps you will buy less plastic and do more cooking if you are reminded of health considerations and opportunities for family-building collaboration when people prepare meals together.   

These were some of the lessons presented last Saturday, 1/15/23, at the Camarillo Public Library, in Ventura County California. The speaker at the “Cam I am sustainable” series was Anne-Marie Bonneau, author of The Zero-Waste Chef Cookbook, who shared cooking and kitchen management tips for “sustainability.” 

There was no mention of bioplastics as a tool to have both the convenience of plastic and the sustainability of alternatives to plastic.

The workshop was one of a series funded by a $17,325 grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, under a program administered in California by the State Librarian. The grant-funded initiative will continue to feature a series of workshop-oriented programs.

The workshops are all practical, interesting, and oriented toward building environmental awareness through encouraging small changes in people’s lives. “Asking people to go vegan or to literally get to zero waste just turns them off,” said Camarillo Library Director Mandy Nasr. “Instead, we are starting with fun and engaging small activities meant to spur more actions.”

In congruence with Nasr’s statement, Bonneau emphasized the promotional pitch she also included on the online order page for her cookbook, explaining, “Zero waste is, above all, an intention, not… a rule… While one person eliminating all their waste is great, if thousands of people do 20 percent better it will have a much bigger impact on the planet.” 

Many of Bonneau’s tips are simple and save money. For example, she has recipes for items others might discard, such as making Mexican hot chocolate bread pudding out of a loaf of bread no longer fresh enough to be delicious by itself. In fact, she said, she no longer buys bread, instead using the same sourdough starter she has used for nine years.

On Saturday, Bonneau also focused on fermenting foods. She gave away symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), instructing attendees how use to the microbial mat to turn sugars into alcohol, carbon dioxide, and acids. This is used to produce kombucha drinks, loaded with probiotics. 

People attending or hearing about Bonneau’s presentation will receive additional environmental education if they become interested in her ongoing work, including her online blog, at www.zerowastechef.com. Last month, a guest post on the blog by similar activist/chef Brigitte Gemme referred to cooking as an “act of love.” 

Each month, from January to June 2023, the “Cam I am Sustainable” series will focus on select topics such as composting, upcycling, food waste prevention, water conservation, and solar energy. 

Additional dates and times will be listed on the library’s website (www.camarillolibrary.org), and open to non-Camarillo residents as well.

Author

This article was written by David Goldstein, an environmental resource analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency.

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