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  • Gloria Geller

Anne-Marie Bonneau: Tips For Low-Waste Living

Author of the award-winning The Zero-Waste Chef cookbook, blogger, fermenter, and sourdough baker Anne-Marie Bonneau began a plastic-free life in 2011. At her GreenTown lecture on January 10 at the main Los Altos library, she discussed her journey to low-waste living.

Anne-Marie is completely committed to cutting food waste and plastic packaging because doing so reduces our carbon footprint and therefore our contribution to the climate crisis—while at the same time satisfying our taste buds, improving our health and well-being, and boosting our bank accounts. Not-so-fun fact: Food waste creates 8% to 10% of greenhouse gas emissions—which is more than the aviation industry produces!

Above all, Anne-Marie made the point that “zero waste” is an intention—while one person eliminating all of their waste is great, thousands of us taking actions to reduce our trash by just 20 percent can have a much bigger impact on the planet. Her message was “no guilt”—taking any steps to reduce waste and avoid plastic is worthwhile.

Here are some of Anne-Marie’s low-cost, actionable tips for cutting back on our food waste and plastic use:

  • Start your lower-waste journey by knowing what’s already in your refrigerator and pantry. Then “shop” there first, including using leftovers, to make simple meals like pizzas, frittatas, soups, salads, roasted vegetables, etc.

  • Do an audit of your plastic waste so you understand what you’re using and where you might be able to cut back.

  • Make a shopping list to purchase only what you need before you go to the farmers’ market or the supermarket.

  • Use cloth produce bags instead of plastic.

  • Bring glass jars from home for buying (at Country Sun Natural Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market, for example) and storing your bulk pantry foods.

  • Use glass jars also for storing food in your refrigerator, for bringing home restaurant leftovers, and for picking up takeout (Silicon Valley Reduces lists restaurants by city that support bringing your own containers).

  • Preserve vegetables by cooking and freezing them in glass jars when they’re in season for best flavor, nutrition, and cost. For preserving through fermentation, check out

  • Buy previously owned, “pre-loved” clothing (at REI and Sports Basement, for example).

For more, visit Anne-Marie’s website, subscribe to her blog, and explore The Zero-Waste Chef cookbook.

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