February Challenge: Remember your reusable bags

If I told you there was a big problem that you could easily help fix, would you do it?  Of course you would!


You’ve seen them gently skipping on the streets, caught in bushes, and fluttering in trees on a windy day. Plastic shopping bags, are an eyesore and a nuisance.  Used on average for 12 minutes, they clog our drains and our landfills for thousands of years. They are a danger to marine species including various turtles, porpoises and seabirds,  and are often found in their stomachs. Plastic bags have been sarcastically christened the “national flower” in many African countries because of their prevalence in bushes and trees.

The statistics on plastic bag use are staggering. According to the Earth Policy Institute a trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year worldwide. In the USA alone, almost one plastic bag passes the hands of every person each day.  The production of plastic bags requires the use of billions of pounds of fossil fuels, billions of gallons of fresh water and results in billions of pounds of solid waste and millions of tons of CO2 every year.
Fortunately, this is one area of environmental concern that is easy to fix.  All we have to do is remember to bring our cloth or recycled reusable bags when you shop. You can even reuse the thin produce bags for a few times. I leave those inside my cloth bags so I always have them with me.

Make February 2017 the month you start re-committing to reduce plastic bags in your home, work and community. As a special thank you for helping us protect the planet, Crown Point will provide a reusable tote bag (like the one pictured on the right) to anyone who registers for their CSA share by February 24th, 2017 – which also happens to be National CSA Day!

Register now for 2017 CSA + FREE TOTE

You can also visit us on Facebook and share your photos on instagram, when you catch yourself doing good. Use the hashtag #CPSustainabilityChallenge or tag us in your post!

Monica Bongue-Bartlesman, Ph.D.

There is no such thing as “away”.  When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.  -Annie Leonard

January Sustainability Challenge: Zero Food Waste

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world? – Anne Frank

As part of our mission to support ecological stewardship in northeast Ohio and beyond, Crown Point’s new Executive Director, Dr. Monica Bongue-Bartlesman, Ph.D., will offer a monthly challenge with tips and suggestions for how to take better care of ourselves and the planet. This year’s first resolution takes a look at simple things we can each do to reduce food waste.

Throwing food away is a matter of conscience. As a culture, Americans are incredibly wasteful when it comes to food. According to a 2004 study from the University of Arizona (UA) in Tucson, on average, American households waste 14 percent of their food purchases,  that includes products still within their expiration date but never opened.

Timothy Jones, who led the study, estimates that an average family of four currently tosses out $590 per year, just in meat, fruits, vegetables and grain products. Nationwide, Jones says, household food waste adds up to $43 billion, making it a serious economic problem.

To put this in perspective: 5% of Americans’ leftovers could feed 4 million people for 1 day. Can you live without producing food trash?  Will you challenge yourself to do better in the new year? There are a few simple things we can do to generate much less waste.

Examine your trash bin.  I find that most of the trash in my bin comes from food packaging and it is mostly plastic.  Take a look at what you throw away and see if you can find a better option. One of the options is to buy less.  In spite of (or just for the pleasure of embarrassing your children or friends) put the apples and oranges you buy in a re-useable plastic grocery bag. Place them right in your cart, or carry them inside your cloth shopping bags.  Make a big deal of letting others in the store know that you are using REUSABLE produce bags.  Display your re-usable organic burlap shopping bags at the register with great enthusiasm. Some stores will even make a donation or give a discount for people who bring their own bags.

Get Creative. We all love those plastic containers that our salad mixes come in, and I have learned that greens do keep better in those plastic boxes. Yes, it’s also very convenient.  So challenge yourself to find a use for the boxes. I sometimes use them to store stuff that might leak in the fridge, for storage of other things, or as little mini greenhouse seed starter containers.  Be creative, if you can’t avoid the packaging re-purpose it.   As a last option, recycle the packaging, but keep in mind that a lot of our “recycled” plastic still ends up in a landfill.

Fresh is best. The ultimate way to eliminate food packaging is to grow your own vegetables or sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture program. Participants in Crown Point’s organic CSA program, pick up their veggies straight from the farm, fresh and without any packaging. Find out more here.

Cook at home.  You can compost vegetable trimmings from preparing the meal. Buy enough ingredients to have leftovers (this means less packaging), which will also save you some time on busy weeknights.  A compost bin right in the kitchen is very handy.

Once you start thinking about food waste, there are often unexpected benefits, beyond the landfill. Being mindful of how you consume food and thinking about how you plan meals (including the clean up) will also lead to improved health and a lower shopping bill.

Ten Tips for a “Green” Holiday Season

For many of us, the quiet winter months are a time for reflection. We can be givers to the earth by modeling sustainable living, by limiting our consumption of unnecessary things and sharing our many resources with others. This holiday season, connect with nature, buy your holiday meal from your local farmers and enjoy time with your family and friends.

Harper Frenchs, granddaughter of Crown Point board member, David Simpson, enjoying holiday festivities in the Crown Point Century Barn.

As you embrace the beauty of the season, here are some “green ideas” for celebrating:
  • Go for a hike.
  • Participate in a bird count.
  • Plant a tree to replace the one you cut.
  • Decorate outdoors with food for the birds.
  • Make gifts.
  • If you buy, buy less, buy smart and think green.
  • Look for locally made gifts, upcycled gifts, gifts made from recyclable materials, and don’t be afraid to re-gift.
  • Wrap gifts in cloth, or newspaper, paper bags, or anything that is beautiful, thoughtful and environmentally friendly.
  • Consider the impact of Christmas lights and try to reduce energy use.
  • Recycle your tree; live trees can be planted, cut trees can be mulched and composted, and artificial trees can be recycled.
With Gratitude and Kind Regards,
Monica Bongue-Bartelsman, Ph.D.
Executive Director