So, you’ve decided you want to go green. But what, exactly, does that even mean? Going green means adopting environmentally-friendly habits so your footprint, or environmental impact, is lessened. And while making changes to your existing routines, products, habits and even home can initially feel like an insurmountable task, it’s easier than you think. And we’ve enlisted an expert to help!
Camilla Marcus, chef and founder of climate-positive food brand west~bourne, is helping to illuminate just how easy going green can be. As the woman in charge of creating her very own sustainable, zero-waste pantry line and range of kitchen essentials, Marcus is no stranger to adopting new sustainable approaches to everything. And she makes it feel so effortless that you can do it, too.
So we asked Marcus for her essential sustainability tips. You can incorporate her advice into your own daily life, whether you’re hoping to reduce your food waste, upgrade to eco-friendly products or better understand how you can make an environmental impact on a personal level.
It’s easy to get discouraged about making eco-friendly changes on an individual level. What do you think is the most important thing for people to keep in mind as they work towards more sustainable habits/behaviors?
At west~bourne, our mission is all about taking care of our planet, ourselves and our communities – one small step at a time. Simple shifts, when it comes to food [or] cooking, make a great impact. Think eating plant-based a few times a week or composting at home.
Additionally, being a mindful consumer can lead to even bigger change. We suggest researching and supporting brands (big and small), across industries, that are doing everything they can (from sourcing to packing to climate credits) to create change, all while providing transparency about their practices.
What are some of the most tangible steps (or even the easiest steps!) individuals can take to develop more eco-friendly habits at home?
There [are] so many ways to be more sustainably-minded and eco-friendly at home. For me, simple swaps were the best place to start.
Simple swaps include: opting for sturdy, reusable and washable cloths instead of paper towels; using eco-friendly, toxin-free natural cleaners, like plant-based Koala Eco or Blueland, which saves money and space thanks to their “forever bottles” which are intended for refills; swapping traditional toilet paper for bamboo toilet paper which is stronger, more absorbent and free from bleaching agents + harmful chemicals; swapping traditional detergent for plant-based ones (The Laundress) that don’t sacrifice on scent or cleaning power.
Additionally, storage is a huge part of being eco-friendly at our house. Whether it’s our kids’ lunches in eco-friendly tins, Stasher bags for on-the-go snacks or reusing our very own west~bourne recycled glass jars to make anything from dressings to overnight granola, even storing loose trinkets around the house. There’s always a way to store mindfully for zero-waste longevity.
There’s a lot of misleading greenwashing that can make it difficult to know which products are really sustainable. Are there key things shoppers should look for as they seek out greener alternatives, both in food and household goods?
Look for transparency in any brand. Transparency about the brand’s sourcing practices and/or their packaging details. If a brand is continuously updating itself, chances are higher they’re doing what they can to innovate, update and stay on top of minimizing impact.
Transparency in our climate-imperative supply chain is paramount to our mission at west~bourne. Things we prioritize include regenerative farming, small family-run businesses and makers whose mission aligns with ours. These practices allow us to create clean, sourceable, and traceable products that create the lowest possible environmental impact.
Any brand that is proud of their practices will be excited to share them with their customers.
Do you have any tips that can help home cooks cut down on food waste?
Plan meals ahead of your weekly food shopping – whether it’s at the store or at your local farmer’s market. By knowing what’s on the menu at home, you’ll eliminate buying in excess. Do what you can to use fruits and vegetables from root to stem, for example: many people believe that things like carrot greens are waste, but with some creativity, any home cook can turn those same greens into a pesto or salsa verde.
When it comes to leftovers, have some fun with them and create an entirely new dish or meal. I call it “playing jazz in the kitchen,” where I combine a little of this leftover and a little of that one to create a beautiful melody.
If space and resources allow, I also recommend growing as many herbs and produce as possible. Not only is this ideal in terms of freshness and a lowered carbon footprint (no driving to the market!), but it also allows home cooks to pick the exact amount of produce needed with little to no waste. Additionally, learning how to store foods properly (did you know you can freeze leftover wine?!), and getting an at-home composter for scraps (a small kitchen counter one is a great starting point), go a long way to reduce waste.
Camilla Marcus’s favorite eco-friendly household essentials
We asked Marcus if there were any eco essentials that she can’t live without in her kitchen or home. These are her top picks – try them for yourself, and you’ll be equipped with green products that’ll help you cook and clean in a more eco-friendly way.
- Brooklyn Made Natural pot scrubber
- Flax towels
- Koala Eco – Safe, non-toxic, plant~based and made with Australian essential oils. Every bottle is made of 100% recycled and recyclable materials, eliminating the need to create more plastic. Love their kitchen cleaner and veggie wash.
- Blueland Cleaning Products
- Sturdy kitchen towels and jars are essential to maintain a zero-waste cooking space.
- Material Kitchen’s reBoard – made with only two ingredients ‑ recycled plastic and renewable sugarcane. A cutting board that’s safe, bpa~free, dishwasher safe + free of zero new plastic, is a board for me
- Hawkins New York’s recycled glassware collection ‑ perfect for picnics, outdoor dinners and poolside.
- Eliminate paper napkins – I love Atelier Saucier for kitchen linens. from napkins to table runners, they’ve got you covered. not to mention, they’re cali‑made, sustainable and customizable.
- Gir’s bpa‑free silicone spatulas
- Repurposed west~bourne glass jars
- Stasher bags
- Eco Bags Produce Bags
- ECOlunchboxes line our cabinets. Perfect for leftovers or on-the-go, these lunchboxes are 100% plastic free and aid in preventing the use/disposal of tons and tons of trash