Fresh Leaf Forever

Transitioning to a Zero Waste Lifestyle: Practical Tips and Strategies

November 01, 2023 Vai Kumar interviews AnnMarie Bonneau Season 3 Episode 12
Transitioning to a Zero Waste Lifestyle: Practical Tips and Strategies
Fresh Leaf Forever
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Fresh Leaf Forever
Transitioning to a Zero Waste Lifestyle: Practical Tips and Strategies
Nov 01, 2023 Season 3 Episode 12
Vai Kumar interviews AnnMarie Bonneau

Want to level up your sustainability game and reduce your carbon footprint?
Ever wondered how much waste our daily habits are contributing to the planet?

Join us for an enlightening chat with sustainability advocate Ann Marie Bonneau, author of Zero Waste Chef
Together, we’re lifting the lid on the alarming rate of trash production, the rise of convenience culture, and the wider implications of our economic system on waste production.
As we navigate through the murky waters of plastic pollution and food waste, we share our personal stories of transitioning to near zero waste in our own kitchens. 
We explore the impact of plastic, derived from fossil fuels, on frontline communities and discuss practical ways you can shift towards a sustainable living. 

Join us for a deep dive into the world of creative and sustainable cooking practices that will help you maximise the use of fresh produce, reduce plastic consumption, and delight your taste buds !
Our guest offers actionable tips on how to have a zero-waste lifestyle - think homemade fermented foods, ingenious waste-free recipes, and simple yet effective eco-friendly swaps. 

Focus areas:
- Transitioning to a Zero Waste Lifestyle
- Plastic Pollution and Food Waste Awareness
- Fresh Produce, Plastic-Free Cooking Benefits
- Tips for a Zero-Waste Lifestyl
- Enhance Nutrition, Reduce Waste
- Tips for Living a Sustainable Lifestyle

In the journey towards zero waste, it's crucial to remember that it doesn't mean absolute zero, but rather a conscious effort to reduce waste consumption dramatically. 
The impact of our collective efforts can be substantial. Even a small reduction in waste by each person can result in a massive reduction on a larger scale. 
It's not just about saving the environment; it's also about ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come. 
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This conversation involving host and guest is NOT intended to be medical advice, nor a substitute for medical consult. Individual case by case results may always vary. This podcast is not imposing anything on anyone, and serves as a resource intended for information purposes only. 

Send us a Text Message.

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Support the Show.

Videos available on YouTube channel.
Follow host Vai on socials - Instagram , YouTube, LinkedIn for thought leadership content.
Head to my website for enlightening blogs & service offerings.
This podcast comes to you from Listen Ponder Change LLC, founded by Vai Kumar.
Every support the show contribution is much appreciated !!
Subscribe https://www.buzzsprout.com/1436179/support and help us amplify our voice and reach!

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Want to level up your sustainability game and reduce your carbon footprint?
Ever wondered how much waste our daily habits are contributing to the planet?

Join us for an enlightening chat with sustainability advocate Ann Marie Bonneau, author of Zero Waste Chef
Together, we’re lifting the lid on the alarming rate of trash production, the rise of convenience culture, and the wider implications of our economic system on waste production.
As we navigate through the murky waters of plastic pollution and food waste, we share our personal stories of transitioning to near zero waste in our own kitchens. 
We explore the impact of plastic, derived from fossil fuels, on frontline communities and discuss practical ways you can shift towards a sustainable living. 

Join us for a deep dive into the world of creative and sustainable cooking practices that will help you maximise the use of fresh produce, reduce plastic consumption, and delight your taste buds !
Our guest offers actionable tips on how to have a zero-waste lifestyle - think homemade fermented foods, ingenious waste-free recipes, and simple yet effective eco-friendly swaps. 

Focus areas:
- Transitioning to a Zero Waste Lifestyle
- Plastic Pollution and Food Waste Awareness
- Fresh Produce, Plastic-Free Cooking Benefits
- Tips for a Zero-Waste Lifestyl
- Enhance Nutrition, Reduce Waste
- Tips for Living a Sustainable Lifestyle

In the journey towards zero waste, it's crucial to remember that it doesn't mean absolute zero, but rather a conscious effort to reduce waste consumption dramatically. 
The impact of our collective efforts can be substantial. Even a small reduction in waste by each person can result in a massive reduction on a larger scale. 
It's not just about saving the environment; it's also about ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come. 
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This conversation involving host and guest is NOT intended to be medical advice, nor a substitute for medical consult. Individual case by case results may always vary. This podcast is not imposing anything on anyone, and serves as a resource intended for information purposes only. 

Send us a Text Message.

Buzzsprout Get your podcast launched!
Start for FREE

Instacart Grocery delivery
Free delivery on your first order over $35.

Enjoy PIOR Living products
Enjoy PIOR Living products at a 20% discount and free shipping on orders over $75 Code FLF20

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Videos available on YouTube channel.
Follow host Vai on socials - Instagram , YouTube, LinkedIn for thought leadership content.
Head to my website for enlightening blogs & service offerings.
This podcast comes to you from Listen Ponder Change LLC, founded by Vai Kumar.
Every support the show contribution is much appreciated !!
Subscribe https://www.buzzsprout.com/1436179/support and help us amplify our voice and reach!

Vai Kumar:

Hi, we are here today to talk about zero waste. In our efforts to become more sustainable and protect our planet earth, we all need to do our small part. It's not that zero waste means absolutely zero, but it's our best intention to take steps towards getting to a point where we have reduced our waste consumption dramatically. Our great-grandmothers and grandmothers wear zero waste. Before, zero waste was cool. They ran their kitchens efficiently, they used everything and they wasted nothing.

Vai Kumar:

So don't be afraid to try new things and fail. Failure is merely one step closer to success. Use up what you have in your kitchen so you and I can contribute to going more or less towards zero waste. If we let the food we have on hand in our pantry, refrigerator and freezer serve as the basis for our next need, that itself serves as a big method of eliminating food waste. Just to put things in perspective if 100 listeners eliminated 4.5 pounds of trash per day for 365 days, that's 164,250 pounds of trash that we can reduce. If 2,500 listeners reduced it by 25%, over a million pounds of trash per year is what we would end up reducing. On the same token, if, instead of 2,500 listeners, 10,000 of my listeners reduced their waste by 10%, that's a million 642,500 pounds per year. Proof enough that everyone doing a little bit still yields a lot more.

Vai Kumar:

So let's listen to our next guest, ann Marie Bonneau, on how she transitioned to a zero waste lifestyle and what prompted her to contribute to her wonderful book Zero Waste Chef. Today I have here with us Ann Marie Bonneau. She is a cookbook author, public speaker, who writes about food and waste at zerowastechefcom. She speaks around the San Francisco Bay Area and teaches sourdough and fermentation workshops in person and online.

Vai Kumar:

Her cookbook, zero Waste Chef, planned forward recipes and tips for a sustainable kitchen and planet as one her awards, including shortlisting by International Association of Culinary Professionals in 2022, and has been featured by major news outlets and publications. With sustainability at the forefront in season three, I'm delighted to welcome Ann Marie here to podcast freshleaf forever. How are you doing today, ann Marie, and welcome to the show.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Oh, hi, Vai. Thank you for having me. I'm fine, thanks. How are you?

Vai Kumar:

I'm fine, thank you. Seems like a crisp morning here in Georgia, but I guess you know it's just we are getting to that time of the year aren't we Yep?

AnnMarie Bonneau:

sweater weather is coming up.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, staggering numbers from your book, by the way, such a wonderful read, and thank you for letting me be a part of it, sharing it with. American consumers generate four and a half pounds of trash per person on an average every day. 268 million tons approximately of trash every year, right from transformation from raw materials to products to disposal, half of which ends up in Lancers. Every minute, a garbage truck load full of plastics enters our oceans. One ton of plastic every three tons of fish, approximately by 2025, and by 2050, more plastic than fish, right, so can you take us through how we got here and what are?

Vai Kumar:

we all even doing.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Well, how we got here, that's a big complicated question, and actually I finished my book just before COVID hit and so those numbers at least for the amount of trash Americans throw out actually got worse. That number is actually higher now. So how we got here? Well, as far as plastics go, convenience culture went into a factor or start, and I think it's like the late 50s or the 60s. There's this famous photo from Life Magazine of a family throwing all of this single use material in the air paper plates and plastic utensils and all this throwaway stuff. And that was supposed to be something to celebrate. And now we look back that picture in horror and it's only gotten worse.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

So the marketers really had to work hard to convince us that this was the way to go. I mean, imagine back then being told oh, just use this fork once and throw it in the garbage and then go and buy another one, rather than using the actual metal forks you already own that you can reuse over and over. So imagine it was hard to convince people that this was a good idea. So convenience culture that really took off. And then it's our whole economic system affects that.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

So it's not the consumer's fault for all of this. If people don't have enough time to take care of themselves and their families because they're working more and more, then of course they're going to go for the convenience food and the fast food and the highly packaged, highly processed food. Yeah, we need a better economic system. We need to revamp the whole thing. The food in the average American grocery store is, most of it's highly processed and a lot of it is ultra processed food. That comes in all the shiny packages and that's what most people are eating, and the food itself is not healthy. And then there's a ton of packaging.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, we have almost got to a point where, like minute particles, contaminate soil and threatens plants, animals and humans alike.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Yeah, microplastics they shed from synthetic clothing, they shed from the plastic packaging, they shed from the plastic mulch that a lot of farms use, even some organic farms, which to me is I don't know how you can call yourself organic if you're covering the soil with plastic that can shed microplastics and toxins into the soil and then recycling. So the corporations came up with this whole recycling idea. They really push it as the solution and that's not the solution. Reduction is the solution. Recycling is a last resort for plastic. They produce so much plastic we can't possibly recycle it all. It's just not possible. And so the big corporations, they push that as the solution because it's cheap for them If they don't have to collect the stuff.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Coca-cola used to use glass bottles. This was maybe until about the 80s. They used glass bottles. You would pay a deposit when you bought your soft drink or your soda and then you'd return the bottles and those could be used several times. Well, that costs the corporations a lot of money. They have to hire people, they have to have the plants, and those plants were in many different communities. Our supply chain is very centralized. Now we have all of these big corporations in central locations.

Vai Kumar:

Anyway.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Coca-Cola started to sell everything in plastic that just gets thrown away, so they don't have to pay to clean that up. They put the onus onto us, the consumers they call us. In the 70s, I think, they came up with this whole litter bug idea and they blame the consumers for littering. Well, it's their packaging that they're producing that is ending up littering the environment. You asked me how do we get here? I guess I would say greed and clever marketing and our whole economic system. So maybe that's a whole other book.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah. So I guess the world kind of followed suit, thinking okay, america has done it Now everybody else should do it, so it's almost like to the point everyone part because growing up in India like we have always reused was not like any throw away stuff.

Vai Kumar:

But then now when I go visit, the culture has completely changed. It's all the convenience. So right there you kind of pointed out how things have changed from like what we were doing right to convenience. This country. So everyone wants to just do everything like a jibby and just keep tossing it and moving on. No one wants to bring reuse of the difference. They just want to carry food in like a package, eat it, throw it and move on.

Vai Kumar:

Right, get on the plane or get on the train, whatever that maybe. But this space decomposes it. Belches may change into the atmosphere. And you said, 84 times more content than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. That's what you put in your book, which causes soy contamination and groundwater contamination. So, do you think consumers even realize what we are doing?

:

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AnnMarie Bonneau:

Well, when I started all of this, I really just wanted to break up with plastic, and then I soon discovered that we waste an awful lot of food. And I had no idea and I think I was fairly aware of other aspects of the environment when I first heard in the US so this is back in maybe 2012 or so a report came out and it said that up to 40% of the food we produce goes to waste. My jaw drop, so I had no idea we'd waste that much food. And it's not just the food that goes to waste, it's all of the resources that go into producing the food. And when that food ends up in landfill, it emits methane because it's compacted tightly and so anaerobic bacteria break it down and they emit methane gas, like you said. Yeah, that's numbers from the IPCC Methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

I think if people do stop to think about it and I don't know if they do, because throwing away food has been normalized most of us just don't think anything of just throwing away food. If people do think about it, they probably think well, it just breaks down into soil, but it doesn't. Here in California last year, sb 1383 went into effect and that requires all residents and businesses to separate their food scraps and wasted food from their other waste. So that's going to help. We backyard compost and I try really hard not to waste food in the first place. Composting is kind of like recycling it's a last resort. It's a crucial last resort, but ideally we would eat all of the food and then when we can't, for whatever reason, then it can go to the compost.

Vai Kumar:

Okay, why are plastics a problem? I guess I'm trying to highlight the magnitude of the problem. Two listeners here About 111 metric tons of plastic by 2030. Is that kind of where we are heading to? I believe we are consuming 100 billion single use plastic shopping. That's a year. Is that right?

AnnMarie Bonneau:

It's an astronomical number. I mean you can't even get your head around it. The corporations, they produce so much plastic. I mean there are so many problems with plastic. Let's see when do I start. Epa, so yeah, that, even just the production.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Plastic is made of fossil fuels primarily. So we extract fossil fuels from the ground, we refine them, usually in frontline communities, and the refining causes just terrible pollution. Asthma rates, cancer rates in those areas are really high compared to the rest of the country. And then we manufacture it, ship it, use it for a few minutes and then throw it away. Oh, using it. So yeah, bpa is a known hormone disruptor and it's in a lot of plastics. And you'll see on canned food, because cans are lined with plastic and the BPA softens the plastic. So you'll see on some canned food Now BPA free. Well, they have BPS or BPS likely, which are similar compounds. So those are known to cause problems. Then there are phthalates, which is another plasticizer, and those also have bad health effects.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

There are microplastics. So with plastic packaging sheds, little bits of microplastics the average American consumes, I think, about a credit card's worth of plastic, I believe it's. Every week it's about five grams. We also breathe it in. So synthetic carpeting, anything's synthetic. But when you hear synthetic, think plastic. So synthetic carpeting. That is shedding plastic, microplastics, the plastic you bring into your home. So vacuum and sweep to sweep that stuff up. But at the same time don't get completely neurotic and worry about this all the time, because you'll just get an ulcer. Worrying is very bad for your health too. Gee, what else. Don't heat food up in plastic, because that causes the toxins in the plastic to leach. So many problems.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

And then disposal if it ends up in a recycling plant. The recycling rates are very low. Plastic will get recycled if there's a buyer for it. So all of the plastic that is collected and a lot isn't collected, a lot ends up in the environment. But all the plastic that is collected by recycling programs, it goes to the sorting station and then it's bailed. But if nobody wants to buy that, if there's no buyer for it and we produce so much that there aren't enough buyers so if nobody buys that, it ends up in landfill or an incinerator. So we just produce way more than we can possibly recycle. We can't recycle our way out of this mess.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Cookware yeah, so much of it. Cookware yeah, I love cast iron. It cooks so nicely and it's less expensive than a lot of other types of pans and it doesn't contain any PFAS. So PFAS is Forever Chemicals and it's a group of chemicals that persists in the environment and in our bodies. That's why they're called Forever Chemicals and they're in a lot of stuff, including some cookware.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

So Teflon nonstick pants Not all nonstick pants, but some nonstick pants and they start to flake and you can't use them anymore, whereas cast iron I'll pass that on to mine, on to my kids and they'll pass it on to their kids. I mean, it just lasts forever. But I also use stainless steel and enameled cast iron. Pfas is also in some food packaging. You may go to a restaurant and you think, oh great, they have paper packaging or they have cardboard Yay, it's not plastic. Well, it might be treated with PFAS because it renders paper grease proof and waterproof. So those takeout containers that are talented as environmentally friendly, some of them have PFAS. So I just I make my life simple and just eat at home, mostly Okay.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Okay, I mean, I'm lucky that I can do that. I understand that everybody has the time, although you don't have to cook anything fancy.

Vai Kumar:

And going to your book Zero Waste Chef plan forward recipes and tips for assistive sustainable kitchen and planet right. I know the whole thing triggered or started when your daughter, mary Katt, and you, mary Catherine, and you, walked through the eyes of the grocery store and realized what we were consuming, what we were putting into our bodies, right.

:

So why don't you take us through that?

Vai Kumar:

What prompted you to write the book and all about that story behind it, and you're putting us on.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Well, yeah, back in 2011, I was reading about plastic pollution in the oceans and I had no idea it was such a huge problem. I was shocked. I think, like most people you know, you can't unsee those images of birds feeding plastic to their young and animals getting tangled in plastic, and you know it's heartbreaking. So I told my daughter, mary Catherine she was 16 at the time. I said we have to break up with plastic and she said, okay, she was really into it. My younger daughter was only 10 and not really aware of, didn't really care. You know, at that age she was off playing and we went to the grocery store and there's plastic everywhere.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

In a typical American grocery store, some of the produce is wrapped in plastic. You cannot get a head of cauliflower in a typical grocery store here without plastic on it. Cucumbers are wrapped in plastic, sometimes Clamshells, lots of clamshells of fruit and vegetables. And, you know, in the milk aisle they're all the plastic jugs of milk. The paper cartons are lined with plastic. Same with lots of drinks that come in cardboard. You think, oh it's. You know, this is better, it's cardboard. Well, it's lined with plastic. And then the center aisle is the very worst, because that's where all the highly processed packaged food is. And you know it's all in plastic, all the highly processed stuff is in plastic.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

And I remember standing in the bathroom tissue aisle with Mary Catherine and I threw my hands up and I said well, this is impossible, everything is in plastic, we can't possibly do this. But then she started to do the research and figured out what we needed to do and we just made simple changes. I think one of the biggest ones was how we shopped. So we've always cooked a lot, we're big foodies but we started to shop at the farmer's market. We're lucky we're in California, so they're year round. The food here at the farmer's market it's all loose, it's all absolutely delicious and more of our dollar goes to the farmer because you buy directly from the farmer. So 90, about 90 cents at least of your dollar goes directly to the farmer when you buy the farmer's market. And when you buy at a grocery store or eat at a restaurant, about 15 cents goes to the farmer. So you know you can feel good about that.

Vai Kumar:

Absolutely so. Focusing on food waste, where along the supply chain does maximum food waste occur?

AnnMarie Bonneau:

So people don't like it when I tell them this, but don't shoot the messenger. If you look at the numbers, if food waste were a pie, the biggest slice is coming from consumers, so from households. Food is wasted on farms because the grocery store may not. You know a lot of them don't want wonky looking potatoes, and so sometimes the food just stays on the farm and rots in the field. There are companies that are selling wonky food, so there is some that's wasted on the farm. Restaurant and grocery stores, waste food institutions, you know, schools and hospitals, but the biggest number is from individual households.

Vai Kumar:

But the good news is we can eat that food, yeah, and downstream or upstream, what are the resources that we've wasted? Like you said, water, energy efficiency, right, right.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Right. So it's not just the food that goes to waste, it's all of those resources that went into producing the food. So water here in California we don't have a lot of water. To spare Energy, labor we clear land of trees to grow food that goes on eaten, you know, and those trees could have sequestered carbon, all of the inputs, the seeds and fertilizers and pesticides that go on to food that goes on eaten.

Vai Kumar:

So, yeah, it's a huge problem, okay 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions comes from food waste. Based on your book, can you help with things in perspective for us when compared to other industries that project right?

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Yeah, so just as my book came out, the UN came out with this highly comprehensive report on food waste I think that's called the Food Waste Index came out in 2021. The numbers are actually between 8% and 10% of greenhouse gas emissions are a result of food waste. To put that into perspective, the aviation industry is about 2.5%, and that's according to Project Drawdown. It's a book and a website, and it lists the 100 top solutions to the climate crisis. So and reducing food waste is number three or number four on that list. It's really high, okay, so how?

Vai Kumar:

do we just make listeners draw inspiration to stop the school waste versus like, go into this eco-anxiety, right, you mentioned about it even earlier as we were talking.

:

What are the solutions? So how did you?

Vai Kumar:

transform your lifestyle. What did you actually have to do and what is it that you suggest so take us through kind of like your journey and along the lines of what you have outlined in the book and me.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Well, I've always been really frugal and I get that from my dad, who he was so frugal that as a teenager I was embarrassed, and now I think I've surpassed him. I think I'm even more frugal than my dad. So you know, there's no downside to reducing food waste at home. There just is none. You save money. The average family of four in the US spends depends on the study you look at, so I'll go with a lower number spends $1,500 on food every year that they don't eat. You save money for reducing it, and I found the easiest way to waste less food is to cook with what you have on hand. So rather than saying, oh, what do I crave for dinner tonight, just look at what you have on hand and let that determine what you're going to make for dinner.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Oh, last night, it's getting close to the weekend and we're running out of fresh produce, because I shop at the farmers market on Saturday and I thought, oh no, what are we going to eat? Well, I had watermelon and tomatoes and garlic, because I always have garlic olive oil. I'm lucky I have a lemon tree. I picked a couple of lemons and I picked a cucumber. My daughter grew cucumbers and I made watermelon gazpacho. It was delicious, it's so good and, you know, at first I kind of panicked. I thought, oh, I don't really have anything for dinner. And then I looked oh no, wait, I have this, this and this. It was delicious and surprisingly filling, so filling.

Vai Kumar:

So those that don't know what a gazpacho is. So how did you put?

AnnMarie Bonneau:

this together.

Vai Kumar:

All right?

AnnMarie Bonneau:

It's very easy. It's a cold soup and a classic gazpacho does not have watermelon in it. So it depends on which recipe you look at. You just throw everything in a blender Tomatoes, cucumber, maybe a bell pepper, olive oil, some sort of acid so lemon juice or red wine, vinegar, salt. You puree it all up and you drink a cold. It's really even tastier if you chill it for several hours first, but this was so good and we needed to eat, but I couldn't stop drinking it even before I had a chance to chill it. It's super simple to make and you can also make it with watermelon. You can make, add some watermelon to it, which I happen to have. So that's kind of how I cook. I just look at what I have and think, okay, what can I make with this? And if you're not very experienced and you haven't done much cooking, you can always make soup. You know, so learn to make a few versatile dishes.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Soup. You can throw in really whatever vegetables you have on hand. If you have leftover grains, let's say some cooked rice, throw that in, leftover protein. If you have Parmesan cheese rinds, throw those in. Throw a couple in. They add a lot of flavor and, yeah, you can always make soup. Pizza is a good one. You can top it with all kinds of things, you don't, you don't? You don't have to put tomato sauce on it. You can make pesto. And you can make pesto out of all kinds of things, not just basil. You can use fennel fronds, parsley, oh, kale stems. I make pesto out of the stems of the kale rather than tossing those. I also add some parsley to that. Anyway, you can make pesto out of all kinds of things, so put that on your pizza. Pratata Pratata is great for using up random roasted vegetables. So creativity solves a lot of problems.

Vai Kumar:

So, basically, you resort to cooking like grandma did. Right, so, and help make a difference, just to give listeners some perspective. There is proof that everyone doing a little just adds up to this bigger picture of things that we are envisioning for our planet, right? So then, that just makes it easier, instead of people going into an eco-anxiety and thinking, oh, there's so much to do.

:

How are we even going to achieve this?

Vai Kumar:

So then, go about the whole house cutting. Oh, I'm just throwing this, this, this out.

:

I'm just doing one thing after another, and because we just have to, then it's not going to be a sustained effort, right?

Vai Kumar:

So only if you just kind of start small, maybe introduce that concept to your friends and neighbors and other family members. So, every small bit adds up and say, if we were to look at some benefits of even doing all of this, and Marie, what would you say? So we have, essentially, if we do this, we cut our package pools, so the benefit out of that, oh, well, that stuff is not cheap, so it saves you time, but it's not.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Some of it is expensive and it doesn't taste as good. Homemade tastes really good and, like I said, you don't have to cook anything fancy. I saved money. I wish when I started this I had kept track of how much money I've saved, but my goal when I started it all was oh, I just want to stop using so much plastic. I didn't realize that I'd reap all of these other benefits, so saving money, my food tastes better. I'm healthier although this morning I'm really stuffed up, but I'm healthier and I always tell people results may vary, so I'm not making any wild health claims. But when I broke up with plastic, my diet really improved. I didn't eat a ton of highly processed stuff, but now I don't eat any and if I want a snack, rather than grabbing a box of crackers or some other packaged junk food, I'll eat an apple. Yesterday I needed a little snack. I had an apple, slices and peanut butter and it was really good and really simple and much better than some processed thing. So, yeah, my health improved.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

I started to eat a lot of fermented food because I wanted to make all of the things I had always baked bread. Well, since my older daughter was a baby, I started baking bread using active dry yeast, which is delicious. The bread's really good, but I wanted to eliminate the packages. You know, those yeast comes in little pouches. I started to make sourdough bread, which is absolutely delicious. I mean that opened up a whole world and I started fermenting other foods which are great for your gut health, and your gut health affects kind of everything. It affects your overall health, your mood, your weight. So many benefits. I think I'm happier. You know, I feel like I have more of a purpose.

Vai Kumar:

Oh wonderful. So right there, when we eliminate plastic, we potentially cut out all the endocrine disruptors, the hormone of disruptors, and then you have saved enough money by not going to the grocery store for the packaged stuff, which are pricier because of the fancy packaging, and it can be made more convenient for you right. So everything is just processed and put together and so you have saved cash right there. Pretty much improved your health overall because you're staying away from processed food. You are forced to kind of make your own from that standpoint.

Vai Kumar:

You're cooking, fresh, Definitely there's more health benefit to it than just eating something that comes from a plant. Manufacture it at its own. Eat what comes from a plant, but don't eat what comes from a manufactured plant.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Yeah, yeah, that's mycopolon. Yeah, mycopolon says if it's a plant, eat it. If it's made in a plant, don't.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, right there we have that benefit as well. And then the happiness in turning crash to trash is if you were to call it that, oh yeah, because you are using every single food's crap.

Vai Kumar:

But then you're making like a meaningful soup and how happy you are that you have done something which tastes so good and you have not wasted any food. So there's just immense satisfaction. Oh yeah, and that satisfaction and happiness in turn. It just makes you more vibrant, it just promotes better health. You just seem to have all of a sudden more energy than you would when you're happy, right, and then nurturing the creative side, just like you point. But you have to just think about hey, okay, this is all I have, instead of stocking up my pantry full of something supplies because I want to stick to a menu. It's fascinating. You pointed out about the fermentation aspect.

Vai Kumar:

So, fermentation we all know promotes beneficial bacteria. And then good gut health is what 75 to 80% of our immune system resides in the gut, they say. So no wonder all the fermentation certainly produced the bacteria is definitely helpful.

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So what are some?

Vai Kumar:

resources, you would point out for you to help consumers to transition to, say, a plastic pre-lip some websites or whatever that again. Your book itself is a great resource. I would say zero wish. So, start there, but other than, oh, thanks. Other than that websites and things like that.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Well, when we started, we looked at Beth Terry's website. It's myplasticfreelifecom. I think she's still writing it. Even if she isn't, she has hundreds and hundreds of posts and that's all about getting off of plastic. So that was super helpful and we've actually my daughter and I have met her a couple of times, and so Beth's website is great. The Plastic Pollution Coalition that's a great organization. Break Free from Plastic that's another one. So they have websites and lots of resources and you can get active with them if you want. So you can sign petitions, and Break Free from Plastic has different events and things if you want to participate in those. They do the plastic audit every year to figure out which company is responsible for the most pollution, and Coca-Cola wins, I think, every year like wins. They're the absolute worst. And Nestle's terrible too. Nestle, unilever Okay.

Vai Kumar:

How has fermentation become like such an integral part of your routine? What else do you do Like? You make your own. You use apple scraps to make apple cider vinegar stuff like that, so why don't you? Walk us through some of the other things. You do your own sourdough starter, so you bake your bread. You bake your sourdough crackers, things like that. So why don't you give listeners pointers on what all you do?

Vai Kumar:

So it takes care of their breakfast, lunch, dinner and, most importantly, snacks, because that's what people crave for. So some sample ideas, if you want.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Well, if you want to start fermenting, I would say, start with sauerkraut. It's really easy. People call it the gateway ferment, and all you need is a cabbage and salt. You can add other stuff, you can add shredded carrots, all kinds of vegetables and spices, and that's a really easy ferment. You chop the cabbage, you salt it, you crush it with your hands to release the liquid. You let it rest for a little while so more liquid pools in the bowl that you're preparing it in, and then you pack it into jars in its own liquid, you put a little weight or something on top of it so that the vegetables are all submerged and then the lactic acid bacteria on the vegetables emit gases and acids and you get this delicious tangy flavor, this nice vinegary flavor, but there's no vinegar in it and, yeah, it's filled with good bacteria and it's very inexpensive to make yourself. You can buy it also. The real fermented sauerkraut is in the refrigerator section at the grocery store. The stuff in the middle aisles is highly pasteurized, which kills the bad bacteria, but it kills the good bacteria. Fermentation is very safe. The bad bacteria can't survive in the acidic environment of a batch of sauerkraut.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

I would say sauerkraut or kimchi, which is very similar. You just have to find the spice. It's so good, it's addictive. What else do I recommend? I make drink. I think of them more as a treat, though. So kombucha and ginger beer. I made watermelon rind pickles on the weekend or they do taste like dill pickles, but they're more like cucumbers. Anyway, they're tasty. That's with just a watermelon rind that ordinarily you would throw out. I made those this week and they're quite tasty. I'm making red wine vinegar. It's so good you cannot buy store-bought wine vinegar after you start making your own. I mean, the homemade tastes really good and you don't have to use expensive wine, just cheap wine. If you have a little bit of leftover wine, just use that. That's really good. Oh, preserved lemons. They add a ton of flavor to dishes. I like to chop up a little bit, along with some fermented hot peppers and have that on the side of some doll or chana masala or all kinds of savory dishes. Those are some of the things I made.

Vai Kumar:

Of course there's enough ideas on your blog, zerowayschefcom, and there's also way too many recipes in the book. Whatever we're talking about here, just trying to give listeners some pointers here. So few ideas for a zero-waste lifestyle and zero doesn't have to mean zero, but kind of like if you aim for something, then at least you start to go towards that goal.

Vai Kumar:

What would you say, are some starting aspects? Where can we do some squabs, say paper towels. I use them in the kitchen. So what can we swap for that? What can we swap for, say, like a plastic container, a cup of weather having news, and what about my cookware? Things like that. Few examples and pointers for listeners. So it's not a chore, it doesn't seem like that. But then it seems like okay, this is simple, I can make a change to my lifestyle and then I can do better for the environment.

Vai Kumar:

So just have it as an intention right Not just get to that number O zero and compare and oink about it.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Oh yeah, I got it. A lot of the time when I give talks I'll get a question at the end, but something like what do I do about my medication? That's all in plastic. Well, keep taking your medication, don't worry about small things like that, and just worry about the big stuff, the easy stuff. Do the easy stuff. For us, it was really easy to switch to cloth produce bags. That was a super simple swap. I've been doing that now for what? 12 years I've been using cloth produce bags every week. I take probably seven or eight to the farmer's market once a week, so it adds up to a few thousand plastic bags that I've eliminated and I'm just one household, so that is a really easy one. Keep the produce bags tucked in your shopping bag so you always have them. If you drink bottled water, you're paying for tap water. The bottled water has more microplastics in it than tap water because it's packaged in plastic.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

And if you're in an area like I mean right now in Maui, everyone, I think, is drinking. A lot of people are drinking bottled water and brushing their teeth in it, of course in an emergency, but most Americans buy bottled water because they believe the marketing that it's superior. So cut bottled water. Another simple one is to bring your own cup to a cafe or sit down, if they have real cups. Sit down and have your drink. Paper coffee cups are lined with plastic. Otherwise coffee or tea would leak and spill all over you. So those are lined with plastic and you really do not want a hot drink mixing with plastic. It's just a terrible combination.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, just like you wouldn't eat plastic bottled water in a hot pot. Yeah, most people don't seem to realize that that's why we're even bringing it out, because it teaches, and you? Don't want to freeze in plastic either. Neither hot temperatures nor cold temperatures are good for plastic.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

I believe right. Well, hot temperatures for sure, and I'm sure you're right about the cold. I didn't know that.

Vai Kumar:

No, I guess the freezer both ways. I think it seemingly teaches toxins into the content. So I guess that's why we don't want to leave hot plastic bottled water in a hot car, because the heat can just kind of cause substances in the plastic to leach into the water, and then you don't want to when you drink that water, possibly your hormonal disruption, things like that. That's when it starts to manage. So grow up grocery bags instead of using the plastic bags at the store and, in fact, even some reusable produce bags.

Vai Kumar:

So we are not grabbing one bag for carrots, one bag for my beets, one bag for my cucumbers, one bag for my zucchini.

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So right there four bags.

Vai Kumar:

And then if you're buying, say, eight produce items that just keep eight refrigerator bags, which possibly you can just go put it, in your refrigerator as well. So you're not having to just come sort your groceries when you come back home and then you're not having to dump that plastic either. So right there every week you can sort the ocean from eight less plastic bags, and then times how many of our listeners are people out there in this universe.

Vai Kumar:

I think that's a big, big number Paper towels. I know you use reusable rags and things like.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Oh yeah, yeah, I just use rags. I like to sew, so I like to make things. Not everybody is like me, so buy the stuff. But I had an old flannel sheet and I just cut it up into paper towel sized pieces and I finished the edges. That was years ago. I did that and I still use them.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

I just washed a couple the other day. When they get dirty, I wash them. They take up very little space in the washing machine and I keep one in my bag, in my laptop bag, and when I'm out and I use the public bathroom, I just pull it out and I dry my hands. And if I spill something on my table when I'm at a cafe, I just pull it out and I wipe it up Like it's. Having a little towel in your bag is really handy. I use them all the time. More than a few people on social media have told me that they stopped buying paper towels and they were in charge of all the shopping. They stopped buying paper towels. Their family grumbled a little bit, but we're too lazy to go to the store and buy more paper towels, and they all adjusted.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, we use these reusable bamboo sheets. I stopped buying paper towels, yeah, or at least I just minimized certainly the amount of paper towel used in the kitchen and in other places in the house.

Vai Kumar:

we just tried to go for these bamboo reusable ones that I buy on Amazon. So I just am doing my small part to try and eliminate Not that I've been able to cut it out 100%, but at least it's way, way less than probably 70% less consumption of paper towels than what we used to even like a year and a half and you save money.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

So the Swedish little dishcloths I bought my mom, I think they're about $6 each. I'm not sure how much paper towels are, but she goes through them like crazy and I'm sure she spends way more than that in a month on paper towels. I know she's spending more than $6.

Vai Kumar:

Anyway, so To run through some quick, fun tips it's tips for a healthier lifestyle and then or and or turning trash to pressures. In fact, speaking of trash to pressures, like a lot of us tend to throw away or give away used clothing and do things like that, we tend to throw them.

Vai Kumar:

A friend recently turned some of her child's clothes as a memorabilia into I think she had someone put together like a blanket or like a quilt. So that's a neat little idea of turning something that you would possibly throw away or not have used for. Making it like a circular economy sort of right, you know, make it like reusable in a meaningful way. So that's something that was neat. In terms of tips, why do we soak nuts instead of having them as?

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Well, yeah, if you soak nuts, I believe it reduces phytate and so your body can absorb the nutrients more readily. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, um, that's some beans, yeah.

Vai Kumar:

Okay, so the same with beans then. So why do we soaks, not be, you know, or like maybe be, or kidney bean, or chickpeas, before we cook?

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Well, I think. I think it reduces phytates, but also I find they cook faster. So I'll soak my beans overnight, maybe right before bed or first thing in the morning, and cook them later in the day. I cook them in my pressure cooker. They cook really quickly. I don't have a fancy pressure cooker, but it's so fast. I'm not sure why when I cook. Yeah, I think the soaking also.

Vai Kumar:

You know, right from childhood we have always been told that, yeah, one way it reduces gas as well. And you soak it and then you pour out the power, whatever that is. You know, like you, just the soap water. You don't use that soap water, you just rinse them again, and right there, you know. You pointed out phytates as well, so that's a good one.

Vai Kumar:

So then you pressure cook it just reduces your cooking time as well and it's much more flavor. Oh, it tastes so good, yeah, so soap beans are always the way to go. And minimizing clothing waste and reuse we talked about that. Find creative ways so you direct happiness from doing it as well. And you know you can just create pressures from it because certain synthetic fibers they are again like contributing to plastic. So try to just make use of natural fibers as much as possible and make sure that they can be reused in a meaningful way. And nobody from your book Veggie Broth and Apple Cider Vinegar. So if you can tell folks how you make your Veggie Broth, what is it that you use? So I think that will also help them get an idea of, okay, how can you minimize food waste, right?

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Yeah. So when I am prepping vegetables throughout the week, I save all the little ends and peels and little bits and pieces and I put them in the freezer and when I have enough of them I simmer them in water, put the scraps in a pot and cover them, pour in enough water just to cover and simmer for maybe 20 minutes and then strain them and I have this delicious broth. I haven't bought broth in over a decade. I put in a lot of onions, but not a lot of onion skins, because I find that makes it bitter. But little onion bits, the little ends, celery, carrot, bell pepper bits, you know. Green and bean ends, right, asparagus, a small amounts of herbs. If you put in a lot of herbs then that flavor will overpower your broth. Tomato cores makes really delicious broth. You know what's in it.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

I buy organic vegetables. If they weren't organic I don't know if I'd want to use them. There's this EWG or Environmental Working Group, clean 15 and Dirty Dozen and it's a list of vegetables that have the most produce residue and the least. The Clean 15 have the least. There's something high in that list and it's not organic. I might not want to use that, those peels. I might just compost them. Corn cobs make delicious broth, okay.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, really good. So pretty much you save all of these. So where are you at in terms of how much trash you accumulate in a day or in a?

AnnMarie Bonneau:

week. Oh, the compost bucket fills up every few days. I guess I don't ferment all my watermelon peels so I already have a lot of watermelon pickles. So I composted that. It's a small bucket and then trash. I mean very little. I do drink milk, I like milk in my tea, and it comes in glass bottles but it does have a plastic lid. There's a little strip I have to pull off, so and that's waste that goes in the trash, not very much. And then my kids. I mean I can't, they're grown up now but yeah, when they're home I mean I can't control them, although they're very good. Mary Catherine Morrison, waste Management, she sees it all and she says reducing is the only way We've got to reduce what we're producing.

Vai Kumar:

Well, I think yeah. Why don't you tell us more about your contacting for your work and community initiatives?

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Yeah, so my website is zerowastechefcom. I'm on Instagram and Facebook. Yeah, I've got tons of information and you can find out more about my book on my website. Yeah, I have a group of friends. We get together really slowed down during COVID ground to a hall, really almost. We get together and we sew cloth produce bags and we hand them out at the farmers market and that gives people a way to reduce their plastic at the farmers market and it also raises awareness and starts conversations about plastic pollution. So that's a lot of fun. We've given away over, I think, about 3,500 produce bags so far and the fabric is all donated. We use natural fibers because cloth and the washing machine if it's synthetic, it sheds microplastics which end up in our waterways. We give those away and people love them. They get so excited when they take their cloth bags and it helps and it's fun. We have a lot of fun, good.

Vai Kumar:

So that's like a great community initiative. So the best way I guess to stop this food waste is to consume food as much as possible. So, yeah, yeah, the best ways to consume food. So in that case, you just, is there something you want to highlight here? You just buy only the barest minimum that you want to buy it right. So is that like a good way to stop?

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Yeah well, in an ideal world we'd all shop more frequently for smaller amounts of food, but most of us can't do that. I can only go to the farmers market once a week because it runs just once a week. You know, in some countries it's almost every day, but not here. Try not to over buy. The food that gets wasted the most is the perishable stuff, the fresh produce. A lot of us try to eat healthy, and so we might buy more of that than we can actually eat. But if you learn a few simple recipes, you can. You can rescue that food before it becomes waste.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, and your book is definitely a great resource. Thank you so much, anne Marie, for taking us through this journey of going zero waste. Although it's a process, I'm sure it's achievable. It's like striving for A plus although season decrease, too right.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Right, right, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, it's just a goal. It's just a goal and don't stress out about it.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah. So the message is to do every small change that we all possibly can to try and do our part in saving our planet and our environment. So nice catching up with you here on the show, and if there is anything else that you would like to add for the benefit of listeners, be free to do so.

AnnMarie Bonneau:

Well, I would just say don't worry about being perfect, just do your best, just do what we can. If we all do what we can, it will make a huge difference.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, at the very minimum, we do all the actionable items that Anne Marie laid out in terms of taking a club shopping bag and trying to reuse as much as you can in terms of the food produce and in terms of the few squabs in the kitchen, say, like the paper towels and things like that, to begin, and then move on to your parchment paper and your Ziploc bag and things like that, right.

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So one step at a time.

Vai Kumar:

And so a great conversation. Very nice having you here with us on the show, and listeners, as always, follow the podcast, rate the podcast and leave a review from your podcast.

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That book choice.

Vai Kumar:

Follow @vaipkumar on Instagram, and until next time, with yet another interesting guest and yet another very interesting topic. It's me, Vai saying so long, thanks, Vai, thanks.

Transitioning to a Zero Waste Lifestyle
Plastic Pollution and Food Waste Awareness
Fresh Produce, Plastic-Free Cooking Benefits
Tips for a Zero-Waste Lifestyle
Enhance Nutrition, Reduce Waste
Tips for Living a Sustainable Lifestyle