Reviews

Products With A Purpose: 5 Food-Related Earth Friendly Products For Conscientious Consumers



We have a confession. Someone stole our recycling bin a year ago, and since then we threw up our arms in exasperation and gave up. Paper, plastic, glass… everything now goes into our garbage can. We feel guilty. We really do! So with that off our chest, let’s talk about Earth Day. It’s not until April 22, 2015, but like Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, celebrating doesn’t need to be limited to a single day out of a year.

Seeing as we’re a little obsessed with food, we wanted to figure out how we could reduce our carbon footprint by being good consumers. So, we’ve decided to share with you 5 products that are all in some way sustainably related to food and water through either production, distribution or consumption. We’re hoping to make this a permanent series on EpicureanDC, because Earth Day should be every day. OK, that was a little corny. But really, we mean that every day is a good day to be a conscientious consumer.

Waiakea Water:

WaiakeaLook in your fridge. Do you stock bottled water? Is there a bottle on your desk? Probably. We understand tap water especially in a city has that chlorine taste (we don’t like it either) and the conveniency or purchasing easily transportable bottles while on the go definitely has it’s appeal. However, we’ve all seen those commercials talking about how many times around the world all the bottles we throw away each year could reach. Did you know it can take hundreds of years for a plastic bottle to biodegrade depending on the type of plastic. And then there’s the cost. Throwing money literally into the landfill just for the convenience. But, what if we told you there’s a better bottled water that will help soothe your guilt?

Waiakea Water, sustainably sourced and naturally filtered through volcanic rock, easily won us over with their sustainability and charity driven efforts. Waiakea is the first Hawaiian bottled water to be certified CarbonNeutral®. Because they use only high-grade 100% PRET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles, utilize low emission shipping, and participate in regional carbon offset programs, consumers can rest a little easier knowing their need for convenience has been addressed in an eco-friendly manner. According to their website 100% PRET bottles “use 85% less energy to manufacture, use 90% less water, and reduce carbon emissions over 90%.”

Unfortunately not everyone has easy access to clean water. Waiakea has also addressed this overwhelming need in developing countries by partnering with PumpAid to donate 650 liters of clean water in Africa for every 1 liter of Waiakea purchased. If that wasn’t enough, Waiakea also helps to raise thousands of dollars for other charities including Blind Childrens Center, Make-A-Wish, Dream Foundation, The Humane Society of the US, and Pedal on the Pier.

If looking to purchase locally in the DMV area, head to Bikram Yoga in Fairfax or Bethesda. Placing an order via their website is also an options. While you’re there browse around to learn more about Waiakea’s water, sustainability and charity driven efforts.

Repurpose Compostables:
RepurposeCompostables

Since we’re on the topic of recycling, let’s move onto disposable dinnerware. You know what we’re talking about – paper plates, bowls, plastic silverware, and cups. If you’re like us you might keep a stash on hand for those nights when you don’t feel like making more dishes (or if you’re even more like us, CLEANING the dishes so you have something to eat off of). We also keep a stash on hand for those BBQs we like to have in the summer, or for when we go camping – and then of course we burn the paper trash so we don’t make more trash. That can’t be good either, right?

Paper and plastic plates often contain known carcinogens (styrene and BPA) and are typically made with the use of petroleum, a finite  liquid mixture that is also processed into gasoline, kerosene, and diesel oilRepurpose Compostables addresses the problem by making disposable dinnerware 100% from plants and not petroleum, making their products compostable within 90 days in an industrial composting facility. Their products are also chlorine free, and all printing is done with soy based inks.

Now, the real question is, “Is it sturdy?” We have a set of the single use dinnerware, and as far as we can tell, these are built to successfully do the job of holding food and liquids. We’re especially loving the coffee cups with lids. We’d love to see every coffee shop using Repurpose Compostables, and might even keep a stash in the house for those days when we’re rushing out the door before we’ve finished our coffee. Yeah yeah. There’s such a thing as a thermos, but we’re a little on the lazy side – remember, there’s dishes to do with things that are reuseable – and this way we won’t have to remember to bring our thermos HOME.

Locally, Repurpose Compostables can be find at Yes Organic locations in DC, Streets Market, and TPSS-Takoma Park. There’s also the option to purchase online. (A 12-count pack of the insulated hot cups with lids is only $6.99, ships free with purchases over $35, and is Prime eligible.)

Torrain:

TorrainClutch

It’s more likely that we’ll think about where our food comes from and the containers the food we’re directly consuming is prepared in and plated on along with the impact those products have on the planet, but what about the packaging that’s necessary to transport the products or feed the animals we consume? Torrain combines fashion, eco-consciousness, and the necessity of fulfilling an economic need with their repurposed rice and feed bag products. How adorable is that clutch wallet? (It’s really cute with just the right amount of quirk. We have it and will definitely be using it all summer.)

As their story goes, the founding of Torrain began with a trip to Cambodia – a typically malnourished and economically unstable country. Founder, Nyla Jano, noticed a local woman’s recycled materials that she had been purchasing, trying to counteract the toxic conditions in her community while simultaneously employing local families to wash, dry and sew the repurposed materials into usable totebags. Fast forward a bit, and Jano now employs Cambodian artisans in ”communities who have been displaced from their farmlands or affected by landmines or polio” to make their line of durable Torrain products (totes, wallets, clutches, wine bags, etc.) and is now in the process of creating an American made line of Torrain products. Fashion with a purpose!

All of Torrain’s products are available for purchase at their online store, and some are available at other online retailers.

Bambeco:

Bambeco
We’re a little hesitant touting the awesomeness of products and brands without experiencing them first hand, but we have great faith in Baltimore, MD based Bambeco’s dedication to quality and sustainability. Their tagline is “sustainable living with style”. We like living. We also like style (although as a friend once pointed out, no amount of money can buy good taste), we’ve basically put all of Bambeco’s products on our wishlist for Christmas. Yup. You thought thinking ahead for Earth Day was bad… we’re already planning CHRISTMAS.

What we really love about Bambeco is their dedication to selling “products with a purpose” - with all products sold either reclaimed, repurposed, renewable, recycled, natural, or organic.

In the spirit of repurposing and recycling we thought Bambeco’s Frida Recycled Glassware Collection needed to be brought to attention now that entertaining guests outside season is here. We’ve seen wine bottles cut and smoothed out to make candle holders and drinking glasses, but we had no idea recycled glass could be so beautiful. Made by hand, used soda bottles are broken down, and then mouthblown into these gorgeous glassware pieces. We can’t do the story justice with our words, so we suggest taking the time to watch the video below to see the techniques used.

Back To The Roots:

BackToTheRootsAquaFarm
We ran across Back To The Roots when we were looking for a aquarium and gardening duo. Who doesn’t love fish, right? Plus we’re firm believers that everyone should learn how to grow some of their own food – even if not a permanent task, but at least once in their lives – and we think it’s especially pertinent for children to understand how food comes to be. However living in a city often poses a problem. For example, our condo association refuses to allow us to grow anything outside that’s edible, even if it’s all grown within containers. When we lived in Maine we made sure to have a vegetable garden, and we also raised chickens for meat and eggs, along with goats for milk. We were essentially wanna-be homesteaders. But, there was something so special about knowing where our food was coming from and having grown it ourselves.

Now, we all know gardening can be a lot of work, especially for those not gifted with a green thumb. Back To The Root’s Water Garden simplifies the gardening process with its closed loop ecosystem – the fish waste feeds the plants, and the plants keep the water clean. One of the best features is that everything you need to get started (minus the physical fish) is included in the set including organic seeds.

Back To The Roots also gives customers a chance to share photos with themselves on social media with the opportunity to win a Water Garden for one of their local classrooms in a monthly giveaway. We think this is brilliant especially in the DC area with known food desserts (meaning fresh produce is difficult to come by due to lack of close proximity grocery stores). What better way to get kids interested in food and gardening by keeping one in the house for them to experiment with. Plus, a fish is always the best first pet.

Rebekah (Editor)

About Rebekah (Editor)

Rebekah spent much of her childhood on the coast of Maine where she cultivated her affinity for local seafood. Her lust for traveling extended beyond her New England borders and so she spent time traveling to Nepal, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, and various parts of the U.S. before taking up blogging and spawn rearing as her full time gig. A transplant into the DC Metro Area, she has a newfound enthusiasm for gastronomy, and finding the best indulgences in the District. Rebekah's photographs and writing have been published by various media outlets, however her love of adventure would find her constantly on the go exploring new places and cuisine.


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