What is Wasted Potential?

Living Waste-Free

Hey everyone, what’s going on in your world?

I’ll tell you one thing that I know is going on everywhere: Trash.  I’m not even talking about the trash that I sift through on a semi-regular basis, which is often not even true waste, if we’re being real.

The items that are actually trash (empty bottles, wrappers, etc) are constantly consuming space in our world.  Either due to lack of spaces to put trash or sheer neglect and laziness, the waste ends up polluting our planet.

There is an unfortunate amount of pollution in the more urban parts of Israel, and even in the natural areas outside of the cities.  Fortunately, there are several NGO-type groups that are seeking to preserve natural areas, and also to clean up parts of the city periodically.  A group that I started in September, Clean-Up Haifa, is exactly what it sounds like.  Together, we decide what type of natural, public area we are going to clean up and rid of trash.  We take a few hours to clean the area, responsibly dispose of our trash, and bond over our goal or reducing pollution.

 

You might be thinking “That’s great about the cleaning, but are you still re-purposing other people’s trash?”  That answer will always be a ‘yes’.  I can always use DVD cases for discs that need a home, spray nozzles for bottles without a head, and old food wagons for convenience in shopping.  Not to mention it’s pretty cool to find a fully functional laptop ready to be hauled off to the dump (Note: There were two other ones just like it, so I swapped out all of the parts that were broken and Frankenstein’d a good one).

As always, food products are at the forefront of my goal to reclaim the waste of the “haves”… not saying I’m a “have not”, but it feels good to utilize that which others have taken for granted.

One thing I found that really amazed me was all of this cereal.  Not only that, but it isn’t even close to expiring!  What a wonderful (yet sadly discarded) discovery.  It makes a delightful treat with banana paste and tahini, too!

 

Also, how cool is it that I have a carob tree outside of my apartment?

20180404_152831

Until next time, waste warriors!

Advertisements

I’m back [in a familiar place]!

Shalom, everyone!

I have been a bit preoccupied recently moving myself and [almost] all of my possessions to Haifa, Israel.  I feel like that is where I became more environmentally conscious and found communities of people all over the country that are committed to sustainability and Eco-friendly practices.  That being said, my lack of presence online has been mainly due to eliminating excess in my life (donating/selling unnecessary belongings, tossing out unsentimental personal items) and preparing for a new journey… or returning to a prior one?

It doesn’t matter because either way, I look forward to finding more ways to have as little waste in my life as possible and helping others to fulfill that desire in their lives.  Additionally, being more self-sustaining is a goal I strive for more in life.  Recently, I started teaching after-school English lessons to kids in the Druze town of Daliyat el-Karmel.  The children receive specialized lessons reading, writing, and speaking in English, and there is a goal that they can also learn about sustainable living and promoting a clean Earth.  In a few weeks (after Passover), there are plans to clean up a nearby park.  The goal is that the children will participate and learn about environmentalism, proper waste management, and enjoy the nature in their neighborhood.

Another positive happenstance about the school is that there is a lemon and a loquat (shesek, שסק) tree in the garden!

 

It is great to see the rewards of people who worked hard to be more sustainable.  It’s especially worthwhile because I had (and still have) the displeasure of being a part of a wasteful packaging dilemma:

20180323_183817

A single Biscoff cookie per package.  These came with a full jar of Jacobs instant coffee.  Nearly twenty, I’d say.  I understand that it’s meant to be “to-go” or maybe served on an airplane, but there is such a thing as too much packaging!

Meanwhile, I am in the process of planning some clean-up events in the near future.  I am aiming to make it focused on more than just clean-up, possibly other types of volunteer opportunities and activism.

Let’s continue to prevent food and product waste, too!

Robin Food Campaign

Hello folks! I’m not here to talk about my own ventures with food waste right now, but instead an organization that is pushing for a change in the way food waste is handled.
 
Robin Food is an up and coming social restaurant in Haifa, Israel that is joining the ranks of several other eateries in the western world aiming to feed people with food that would have gone to waste. The food itself is not from trash, but Robin Food saves food from going to the landfill and generously offers it to people at affordable rates. In fact, the whole idea is that you pay what you want for the food and service you are receiving. Isn’t that a cool concept?
 
It’s the first of this kind of organization in Israel, and to achieve widespread success, we need to spread the word and support them. I’ve included a link to the Robin Food Headstart page, where patrons can actively fund RF and also receive cool stuff for doing so!
 

Doing Good Deeds Makes You Rich!

Second post in two days, I must be on a roll!  Now that I’ve grabbed your attention with the title of this post, I’d like to be a bit self-indulgent and talk about my afternoon (I promise that it will be relevant to waste reduction!)

I thought a leisurely bicycle ride would be a nice way to get active out in some balmy high 70 degree (F) weather today down in south Florida.

So there I am, riding my bicycle down the Cypress Creek Greenway in Coral Springs, and I casually pass what appears to be a plastic bag on the grass next to the path that I’m riding on.  Deciding whether I wanted to turn around and throw it out or not, I ended up doing what I thought was right and going back to retrieve the bag.  As it turned out, the contents were not trash but actually an unopened juice box and some sealed plastic-ware.

Amazing that what I had thought would be a selfless good deed ended up benefiting me after all.  That’s not all, though.  As I ventured further (off of the path at this point), I came across the Chabad Jewish Center of Coral Springs.  I attend morning Minyan there during the weeks that I’m here, so I am familiar with the organization.  As I made another stop to pick up a plastic food container, I was apparently meant to find more than just that.

A happy day for an opportunist like me!  This single dollar is no big deal, but it amazes me that someone carelessly lost it.  That being said, I have no plans to hang on to it.  I will give the dollar to the Chabad donation box.  I’m not a believer in fate or divine intervention, but why not?  I found it outside of the complex, so it makes sense to me to donate found money to an organization that I support.

My third and final find of the day was found on my way back home.  As I was riding along the Greenway again, I found a small highlighter pen that someone attempted to throw in the trash but missed.  Good thing I was out riding today!  I also felt inspired to do a little bit of cleanup on my ride, finding some recyclables and helping to make the area a little bit nicer on the eyes (and the planet!)

What can one make of all this?  I didn’t find anything extraordinary: a juice box, $1, and a highlighter.  You could probably spend that dollar and get a juice box and highlighter at your local CVS, no big deal.  What is a bigger deal (to me anyway) is that in making an effort to clean up the environment, I was fortunate enough to find those few items.  Not because I wanted them necessarily, but I could fulfill a desire to do good in the world.

The richness in the title of this post that I am referring to is a fulfillment in doing good deeds. As the late Arthur Miller said, “Don’t be seduced into thinking that that which does not make profit is without value.”  If we give a little bit of ourselves to the world and to each other, there can be a lot of value gained in our efforts.  We might even make ourselves happier!

I gained a valuable lesson in my bike ride today, and hope to continue learning new things every day.

Food Donation Database

This is a growing list of places that individuals can donate their excess or unwanted food to.  If your region is not on here and you wish to find out where you can donate your food to, feel free to send a message and I’ll do my best to figure out how to help you help others.  After all, why waste?

Here is the information that I would find helpful to know when searching for places to donate to:

  • Location where services are needed:
  • Type of foods (prepackaged, frozen, non-perishable, canned goods, etc.):
  • Total quantity of items:
  • Have items reached or surpassed best by/expiration dates:

 

Additionally, if you know of any places that actively take donations, please reach out to me and I’ll add it to the list!


 

All Items Except Expired Goods:

 

Pennsylvania

Central Pennsylvania

Jonestown Outreach Pantry (JOY)

48 W Market St

Jonestown, PA 17038

717-269-6186

http://joypantry.org/

All food donations, personal care and cleaning products can be taken to the pantry on Mondays and Tuesdays according to the schedule which appears on the JOY Schedule.

 

The Caring Cupboard

131 N Railroad St

Palmyra, PA 17078

717-838-9493

http://caringcupboard.org

Monday: 8:00 to 11 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. NEW HOURS BEGINNING 4/2: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Wednesday: 8:00 to 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. NEW HOURS BEGINNING 4/2: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Evening hours remain 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Friday: 8:00-2 p.m. NEW HOURS BEGINNING 4/2: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

 

Philadelphia

Youth Emergency Service

1526 Fairmount Ave

Philadelphia, PA 19130

215-787-0633

https://ysiphilly.org/youth-emergency-service/

 

Any Food Items:

 

Pennsylvania 

Philadelphia

Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission

302 N 13th St

Philadelphia, PA 19107

6am-8pm

http://www.sundaybreakfast.org/

Thinking of Waste Since My Challenge…

Welcome back to an update!  Look forward to seeing more in the future!

My 30 day challenge ended over a month ago. I have bought food and products from stores, but not in excess. The freegan challenge posed an interesting struggle (if you could call it that) that required me to utilize the resources that I had acquired through alternate means (mainly dumpster diving) and not spending money on food that I didn’t need to buy. I’ve seen it in others and myself, that we not only buy groceries in excess, but there is a lot of eating out in general.

At times, I am sure that what I was doing seemed like a sort of crazy experiment and a bit off-beat to other people.  It wouldn’t be wrong to think that, after all. Who in their right mind, when being financially comfortable spending money on groceries and sustenance, would go a month depriving themselves of what ever food they wanted to buy?  What choice does one have when they are only allowing themselves to sustain off of an objectively unreliable source of food (i.e. dumpsters, waste bins, etc)?

If you happen to read Hebrew (or trust Google Translate), you can read the following article about my freegan month challenge: https://www.colbonews.co.il/?p=23153

What is interesting and crazy in its own right is that we allow ourselves to be okay with carelessly tossing out leftovers or not saving what could amount to a whole plate of food for a later meal.  Often, we could not be bothered to consider saving and reusing those items.  We find that not only with the food that we throw out, but the packaging as well.  I absolutely abhor seeing prepackaged goods being thrown out.  The amount of fossil fuels that were used to create the packaging and to turn the ingredients into a concise measurement means there is even more to waste in the end.

In the end, even though I felt comfortable and well sustained throughout my challenge, I only feel that it was possible to accomplish the challenge through the negligence and carelessness of the stores that wasted all of the food I could find.  What really needs to happen is that these markets, shuks, and grocery stores would all have a means of passing off their excess to other purveyors of this food.  Could the excess not be sold off to a third-party store to make a fraction of the cost off of each item?  There are a small chain of discount grocery stores in south central Pennsylvania called BB’s Grocery Outlet where this model exists and surplus and salvaged goods are given a second chance for way below the standard price expected.

Another idea is to donate the food and products to food banks, shelters, soup kitchens, etc.  Organizations can step in to facilitate this process, very much in the way that places like Urban Gleaners reclaims waste-bound food. In the end, we are really just trying to prevent what you see below from happening.

As usual with previous updates, I will of course grace you with more images of food finds.  Just because my challenge ended, don’t expect that to let up.  After all, you must be incredibly interested in what gets plucked from the trash.  I know I sure am!

Until next time, folks!

Freegan Month Challenge – Days 26-30

Just when I thought my updates couldn’t get more sporadic, I am now having to account for FIVE days of my challenge!  It has been almost a week, and a small final stretch to get to this point.  My one month challenge is coming to an end, and I will have a lot to state about the challenge in my Live wrap-up video.

That’s right.  I am going to put out a live video where people can ask questions and I can provide commentary about my challenge throughout the month.  I’ll provide more details on that in another post, but it will definitely be broadcast tomorrow at 4:00PM (EST).

During my last several days, I managed to accrue a healthy amount of sustenance.

 

Not just food, but I’ve also managed to salvage more items from being discarded.  Very practical items that could have a whole second life!

 

I look forward to continuing dumpster diving and living minimally throughout the next few months in Haifa, even if now I will allow myself to buy things.  I almost feel that out of habit now, I will just rather go without and find a no-cost solution.  That has definitely evolved as a mindset for me lately!

 

To end this post, here’s a salad that I made out of found food.  On the left is a good utilization of food waste, and on the right is just a shameful display of over-production.

 

There will be an update with an updated analysis of my challenge in further detail.  Look for it!

Freegan Month Challenge – Day 23-25

Hello everyone!

Wow, it’s hard to believe that I’ve already reached 5/6 of the challenge already! So far it’s been a pretty great experience, relying almost entirely on reclaimed food that would have otherwise been wasted.

If there’s anything that I’ve taken away from this challenge, it’s the knowledge that there is far too much waste in our world, and it has gotten to the point that we make enough food waste that could otherwise feed hungry people. Not that I didn’t realize that already, but judging from the fact that I can go for a month just by eating wasted food means a lot. It just further propels the fact that all of the food we waste in the world could potentially feed several thousands of millions of people.

On Monday, 6 November (Day 23), I had the opportunity to meet with one of the directors of Robin Food, an organization based in Haifa that is growing towards opening a “pay-as-you-feel” cafe in the city. The cafe is expected to be opening up in January and I hope to be able to help and support them in any way that I can leading up to that time.

 

There are several places like this in the UK that have shown that this model can work, and several other areas in the world have emulated this model.  It’s called The Real Junk Food Project and it’s been an ongoing and growing model for fighting food waste for a few years now.

Check out this Ted Talk with Adam Smith, the brains and culinary expert behind the Real Junk Food Project.

 

On Day 24, I was able to take a day trip along the Carmel Coast here in Israel, particularly near Caesarea and the ancient city itself. A nice day for a travel and I even managed to go without cost (since the trip was covered by my program).

Day 25 was just a regular work day, and has gotten me past the 5/6 point in my challenge.  I will always try to continue finding new ways to show how we can better utilize our waste even when it seems we live in a world of it.

Here is some good reclamation over the past several days.  Sometimes you even find free literature!

Of course, here’s also a shot of some of the good food that is being thrown away at the supermarkets constantly. Such good bread, such wasted potential!

20171108_222048

To cap off, here are some reclaimed foods that I ate over the past several days.  When you have hummus, squash, potatoes, bananas, granola, pita bread, yogurt, and pomegranate, there are always a multitude of nutrients you can gain.  Tasty things, too!

 

Eat well and responsibly!  Until next post, friends!

Freegan Month Challenge – Day 20-22

The third week is completed with Day 21. I have only one full week left of the challenge. It’s probably a good thing that it will be coming to a close soon. Living a freegan lifestyle doesn’t necessarily afford the body all of the nutrients that it needs to function. Protein sources are difficult to salvage for due to many of those food types suffering from expiration. There could be other ways that I just have not figured out yet. Every now and then I will find a decent haul of nuts, legumes, and/or dairy protein.

Also beans work for protein. Speaking of beans…

I ended up getting plenty of eggplant and bananas for the weekend right before Shabbat started. Also, cakes, beans, and single serving chocolate pieces. Overall, the dollar amount that I saved from the landfill (just prepackaged foods) was 84 shekels ($24 USD). Honestly a decent and well-varied haul. One of my favorite meals that I get from gleaning the urban depositories is baked vegetables, especially eggplant.

Today on Day 22 (5 Nov 2017), I managed to glean a few treats, including some decent hummus, two containers of organic rice milk, and a nice medley of fruits and vegetables.  All packaged goods came in at 163 shekels ($46.57 USD).

 

I can’t complain about this acquisition.  It’s sort of a calling to my previous statement about getting the right nutrients.  Hummus (chickpeas, really) has differing, valuable nutrients from many of the other foods that I find, as well as rice milk drink.

Remember the table cloth that I found?  Well, this is how nice it actually looks on a real table.

20171105_175107

Good uses for trash, it turns out!

Freegan Month Challenge – Day 17, 18, 19

Welcome back!  It seems that making a post for every single day has proven more difficult than I realized.  I would like to ensure at the very least I’m only ever missing 3-4 days in a row. I won’t ever skip a day in the chronology, but sometimes one of the days can be so uneventful that it wouldn’t make the most sense to post just for that day alone.

Anyway…

As I post this, today is currently Day 20 (Fri, 3.11.17), so I’m basically two-thirds of the way through my challenge.

Day 17 was a non-work day, which means that my peers and I did something related to our MASA program.  This particular Tuesday was a volunteer experience, so we went to Ein Hayam Community Garden, a non-profit community garden in Haifa that is made possible by the help of community volunteers.  Experiencing places like this that serve to heighten the sense of self-sustaining methods and community bonding are really a treasure in our world.

http://leobaeckhaifa.org/shared-existence-programs/ein-hayam-trail/

They were surely very grateful for us arriving and doing as much as we did, even with the sun setting very early.  The owners of the garden provided some bounty for our labor, which was more than I had expected.  They also kindly let us take what ever we wanted, so there were some delightful treats to indulge in for awhile.

 

Day 18 was a rather productive work day of shooting and editing product reviews at the studio.  It also became a productive night, as I found a medley of great produce for the next several days.

20171101_213247

Not a bad looking haul, but let’s look a little closer at some of the irregular produce we that we find.

The potato on the left is a very oddly shaped specimen, and possibly led to it being thrown out.  Also, it seems that commonly-fused produce like these bananas and carrot get thrown out.  Supermarkets generally practice throwing away produce that is unattractive, yet it does not speak for how the foods actually taste.  It’s always worth asking your local stores and markets not to throw away good food just because it’s ugly!

Also, if reading that doesn’t get you irked, take a look at how many cucumbers got thrown out two days ago!

20171101_205539

Here’s just a general glimpse at the freegan foods that I had over the past few days.  The pickled items on the top right were gifted freely from my friend’s shawarma, but otherwise all else came from dumpster-reclaimed foods.

 

I’ll keep you further updated on the last third of my challenge left.  Until then, lehitraot!