It’s resolution time, parents! And although saving the planet is a tall order as far as resolutions are concerned, working toward a sustainable environment doesn’t have to be overwhelming. So if you’re looking for simple and easy solutions to support sustainability in 2021, you’ve come to the right place. From kits that help reduce food waste to how to recycle everyday plastic waste, we’ve got what you need to make your New Year a bit green-er.

photo: iStock

Skip the Landfill

We’re all doing our best to reduce, reuse and recycle. But if you find yourself puzzling over what to do with broken toys, plastic food wrap and clothes that have holes, you’re not alone. Check out these services and resources that help keep items out of the landfill.

photo: Ridwell

Subscribe to Ridwell
When it comes to recycling, there’s only so much you can put in your big blue bin. That’s where Seattle-based Ridwell comes in. What started as a father-son quest to collect dead batteries for recycling has grown into an odds-and-ends recycle and reuse subscription service boasting over 15,000 customers in the Seattle area.

Ridwell collects everyday items like light bulbs, clothes, shoes and plastic film (think: cereal box liners, Ziploc baggies and that stack of Amazon bubble envelopes you’ve got sitting in garage) on a bi-monthly basis and delivers them to area recycling and reuse partners so you don’t have to. They also gather those really strange items you’re not quite sure what to do with, like eye glasses, pet items, Halloween candy and even Christmas lights—they designate one special item as their featured category each month. To date, Ridwell has collected more than one million pounds of trash that would have otherwise gone into landfills.

Online: ridwell.com

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

Work the Web
What’s the old saying? One person’s junk is another’s treasure. Sometimes keeping things from the landfill is as easy as offering them up to others to use. Joining groups like Buy Nothing and Freecycle makes the reuse part of the three r’s a cinch. If you don’t have any takers, you can always see if local reuse art stores like Seattle ReCreative and Tinkertopia in Tacoma are collecting what you’re looking to offload. (Hint: they both love leftover art supplies, parents!)

Find a Fix-It Fair
Whether you’ve got a vacuum on the fritz, a chair that needs repair or you can’t darn a sock worth a darn, “fixers” at a Seattle or Tacoma area Fix-It-Fair can help. Simply bring small appliances, broken toys, tools, computers—you get the idea—and have a skilled “fixer” take a look. They’ll give it a once over, repair it if they can and offer helpful tips you can take home too. Although the pandemic has put these Fix-It-Fairs on hold, King County has plans to bring them back in some from or another in the near future. So don’t get rid of that broken blender just yet. Help is on the way!

Eat Locally

photo: Rylea Foehl

Find Local Farms & Farmers
When it comes to our area’s sustainability, supporting local farms and farmers is a simple action that has a serious ripple effect on Mother Earth. Not only does it reduce the resources needed to grow, ship and prepare food, it puts good stuff back into the land (think nutrient dense soils and healthy waters) and the economy. Find everything you need for 2021 at the newly launched eatlocalfirst.org that features more than 1,700 sustainable and organic farms, farmers markets and food businesses around Washington state. The best part of this new resource is that it puts the tools families need to eat locally at their fingertips. This is one resolution you can keep!

Online: eatlocalfirst.org

photo: Corinne Monaco

Join a CSA, shop the farmer's markets and visit farm stores
If you’re interested in joining a CSA, start planning now. Consider you family’s needs—do you want produce only? What about meat? Are you looking for farm pick up or home delivery? Then browse eatlocalfirst.org to find the perfect match for your fam.

A leisurely stroll at the local Farmer’s Market isn’t always an option for busy parents, especially during a pandemic. But one of COVID’s silver linings (if there is such a thing) is that our local farmer’s markets have pivoted to online shopping with curbside pick up that makes seasonal eating as easy as driving through your local fast food joint. Don’t forget home delivery options from local spots like Local Yokels, Pacific Coast Harvest and Milk Run.

Finally, throw in a visit to a farm store like Green Bow Farm in Ellensburg, Bellewood Farms in Lyden or Garden Treasures in Arlington on your next road trip. Enviro-adventures away!

Reduce Food Waste

photo: Commission for Environmental Cooperation

Download the Food Matters Action Kit
Composting is the first line of defense in reducing food waste (great job, Seattle!). Cutting down on what you compost is second. When you think about it, wasting food wastes all the resources that went into producing it (growing, transporting and selling) and uses even more to process the waste. So if your family wants to shrink their food waste in 2021, the Food Matter Action Kit has everything you need. Plus it engages kids in the process. They get to do math, play detective and help save the planet. Sounds good to us!

Seattle mom, Terumi Pong, has been using the kit with her kids. She describes one of the lessons as “eye-opening” explaining her family didn’t realize “how much food waste we created and how some of the things we often waste can actually be eaten.” She goes on to say, “After reading through the toolkit and working through some of the lessons, my family is more aware of the choices we make with food and it didn't take a lot of time or effort. I'm thankful that in this time period where so many things feel out of our control, we can do a little bit to help ourselves and our community at home by reducing food waste.” You might be surprised by what you find, too.

Online: cec.org/flwy/

—Allison Sutcliffe

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