Weekend Waste Diary with Emily - NOFA Edition
About This Series
This blog series provides readers with a chance to catch a glimpse in the life of a zero-waste lifestyle supporter. It documents the daily weekend activities of the blogger, as he/she generates waste from Thursday to Sunday. Readers will be able to put their feet into someone else’s shoes through this blog series, and hopefully learn some good waste management tips for them to practice at home as well. These bloggers have experience in working with waste diversion and understand the concept of zero-waste quite well.
Let’s see how this weekend’s blogger will do!
This weekend’s blogger, Emily, is an assistant manager for Impact Earth’s Zero Waste Schools Program. She, along with the cofounders of Impact Earth Cassidy (pictured) and Robert, spent the weekend traveling to Saratoga Springs, NY for the Northeast Organic Farmers Association Winter Conference where they provided zero waste services. Despite the outstand sustainability efforts at the event, zero waste living can be difficult while traveling; read more to see Emily’s successes and failures with zero waste travel.
12:00 pm - After a slow morning of packing and preparing for the conference, Robert, Cassidy, and I are finally in the truck and headed to Saratoga Springs! I am happy to see that everyone has their reusable water bottles and coffee cups!
2:00 pm - We stop at a rest stop to fill up on gas and caffeine! We all get coffee at Starbucks and they kindly fill our reusable mugs and water bottles!
4:30 pm - We arrive at the conference center and are ready to get to work! There is a dinner tonight for conference volunteers and staff, so we get a zero waste station set up for that. All of our stations have an Organics bin, Recycling bin, and Landfill bin. Luckily, this conference was well planned so they have lots of reusable table settings and compostable options when necessary.
5:30 pm - We get a tour of the rest of the conference center and set up the stations for banquet staff and conference attendees to use tomorrow!
7:00 pm - After a long day of travel and work, we are more than ready to get some dinner. We decide on Scallions Restaurant, since it is close to our Airbnb and has lots of options for Cassidy, who has dietary restrictions. We all share hummus and veggies as an appetizer, and I order a turkey panini for dinner. We all finished out entrees so there was no food waste! However, we also decide to order dessert and I can not manage to finish my carrot cake, so I take it home in a plastic clamshell container...this is not likely recyclable.
9:00 pm - We are back at our Airbnb. We are all exhausted, so I quickly take a shower and get to bed!
New York’s leading non‐profit organization providing programs and services to promote sustainable, local organic food and farming. Through education, certification, advocacy and other efforts, NOFA NY promotes organic food production, local marketing, and land stewardship.
REUSE: coffee mug, water bottle
LANDFILL: plastic clamshell container
5:45 am - We get an early start to the day! I make sure to fill my reusable water bottle before we head to the conference center.
6:00 am - We arrive at the conference center and check the waste station that we set up last night- everything looks good! We also set up our table for the tradeshow since we are selling some of our zero waste lifestyle products at this event!
7:00 am - We are all ready for some coffee and breakfast! All of the food for this event was donated by amazing sponsors and prepared by the chefs at the conference center and hotel. I fill up my reusable mug with coffee- the ground will be hauled away and composted by us! I also add honey and cream- the containers for both will be recycled. I grab some toast with almond butter and strawberry jam- both in glass jars that will be recycled. I also have organic peach yogurt (recyclable container) and use a compostable spoon!
8:00 am - I attend a workshop about Composting led by Rick Carr from Rodale Institute. This workshop is really interesting to me because 1) we work with farmers that compost our organics everyday and 2) I used to work for Rodale Institute!
9:30 am - There are two main break areas in the conference center stocked with healthy snacks. I grab a granola bar. Unfortunately, the wrapper has to go in the landfill.
10:30 am - I check our zero waste stations around the conference center- it looks like attendees are sorting their waste well!
12:40 pm - Another delicious banquet meal...I have to try everything. I grab salad, pasta, mashed potatoes, BBQ tofu, french onion soup, and bread with butter for lunch. The soup bowl and spoon are compostable, but the wrapper for the butter pad has to go in the landfill. The rest of the plates and flatware are reusable! I enjoy my meal while sitting at our table with Cassidy and talking to visitors about our beeswax wraps.
6:00 pm - After a pretty low key afternoon of table sitting and station checking, we are ready for dinner. I get salad, mashed celeriac, turkey, carrot soup, and apple crisp from the buffet line. The soup and apple crisp are in compostable bowls. I also refill my water bottle!
7:45 pm - After sorting and cleaning all of the waste stations, we are finally ready to leave the convention center for the day.
9:00 pm - I refill my water bottle, clean my reusable mug, and head to bed!
REUSE: coffee mug, water bottle
COMPOST: three spoons, three compostable bowls
RECYCLING: yogurt container
LANDFILL: granola bar wrapper, butter wrapper
5:30 am - My alarm goes off and it’s time to hop in the shower! Our Airbnb hosts provided full sized shampoo and soaps, so I don’t need to waste on the mini travel sized bottles, although these will probably end up in the landfill eventually.
6:30 am - We arrive at the conference center, check all of our waste stations, and reset our booth for the tradeshow! Despite the pending snowstorm, we are optimistic about the turnout today.
7:00 am - Breakfast time! We are all taking full advantage of the delicious food at this conference- I have toast, eggs, roasted potatoes, and wheat berries for breakfast. I refill my coffee mug and grab an orange juice, which is in a recyclable container.
8:00 am - I attend a workshop called Healthy Soils, Healthy Communities. Although this doesn’t directly pertain to the work that we do at Impact Earth, it make me consider possible contaminants and heavy metals in produce that I buy.
9:15 am - Another station check, and I head back to our booth at the tradeshow. We are meeting lots of great people and even seeing some familiar faces from Rochester!
We were among a bunch of amazing local vendors with products that support organic farming and sustainable lifestyles.
11:00 am - It’s time for lunch….it feels like I just had breakfast but I am a proud member of the clean plate club and will never turn down a good meal. I have a kale salad, roasted beets, vegan chili in a compostable cup, and beef stroganoff. I grab a piece of bread at the end of the buffet line. I can not stop eating this bread…. I remember that I have a spoon from home in my backpack so I decide to use that for my chili since they ran out of compostable spoons.
12:00 pm - We spend the afternoon staffing our booth and exploring the rest of the trade show. There is a great variety of companies here from seed companies, to CBD producers, to organic t-shirt producers.
5:00 pm - People are starting to head home to avoid the snow storm, so buffet lines for dinner are short! We all get in line and I grab salad, roasted root vegetables, black beans, baked tofu, cream of mushroom soup in a compostable cup, and of course….bread. The wrapper for my butter has to go in the landfill. I also grab some berry crisp to eat later on. This is also in a compostable cup. I use my reusable utensils and we all discuss the best parts of our day as we are eating dinner!
7:00 pm - After checking all of our waste stations and packing up our table, we are ready to head back to the Airbnb for the night.
8:00 pm - Cassidy and I start a load of laundry so we don’t have to deal with it once we get home. Our Airbnb hosts provided full sized versions of eco-friendly laundry detergent and stain remover. Awesome!
REUSE: coffee mug, water bottle, spoon
COMPOST: three compostable bowls
RECYCLING: oj bottle
LANDFILL: two butter wrappers
6:30 am - I wake up and we are practically snowed in. I’m so grateful that Robert and Cassidy help to shovel out our truck.
8:00 am - After a very slow and cautious drive, we arrive safely at the convention center. Phew. We check the waste stations and set up our booth.
8:30 am - It’s breakfast time! I have potatoes, eggs, pancakes, and some almond butter on a disposable spoon. I also grab an orange juice in a recyclable container and refill my coffee mug.
9:00 am - We pack up some of our waste stations since workshops and banquet halls have been cancelled due to the snow. Cassidy and I spend the rest of the morning at our booth selling our zero waste lifestyle products.
11:30 am - Time for the last meal of the convention! I have salad, tofu, chili, mashed sweet potatoes, cheese, and bread with butter. We debate over lunch whether it is safe enough to drive home today or if we should stay another night in Saratoga Springs.
1:45 pm - After packing up all of the waste stations, we have a truck full of organics to be composted! We are all ready to get home and decide that the road conditions will not be much better tomorrow, so we get on the road.
8:00 pm - We arrive safely back in Rochester exhausted, but satisfied, after a productive weekend at NOFA-NY!
REUSE: water bottle, coffee mug
RECYCLING: oj bottle
LANDFILL: plastic spoon, butter wrapper