A crucial component of living sustainably is reducing the amount of waste produced. In 2013, the EPA estimated that the average person produces 4.4 pounds of waste per day.
There has been a great deal of emphasis put on recycling and composting, and while these are helpful strategies, it is equally important to consider consuming less. This could be through buying fewer products which come in disposable packaging or have a short lifespan.
Food is one area that produces an astronomical amount of packaging, it seems that everything we eat comes neatly wrapped in plastic.
Daunting as it may seem, buying package-free food is possible. This means embracing the challenge of learning to cook with what is locally available and in season, and adapting your diet to the turning of the year. Although this approach to food requires more thought and energy spent cooking, it is extremely rewarding. A less-processed diet has additional health benefits.
The Stevens Point Co-op provides a way to avoid packaging with its bulk section where shoppers have the option to fill their own reusable containers with anything from oatmeal to coffee. A membership offers a 15 percent discount at the Co-op and is available to students for $25 a year per household. Another area business which sells products from local farms is the Market on Strongs, which was started by Central Wisconsin farmers.
For fresh vegetables, the local farmers market is a great resource. During the summer months, an array of vegetables, breads, coffee and other foods are sold in the downtown square. Beginning Nov. 4, the Winter Farmer’s Market will be taking place at Redeemer Lutheran Church on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Most of the food bought at the farmers market comes packaging free, eliminating waste. Furthermore, buying local food lessens the amount of pollution and energy from transportation.
Justin Seis, senior sociology and philosophy major and specialty projects coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, supports buying locally.
“You do more for the local economy too,” Seis said. “You are supporting local people.”
For those dedicated to buying directly from local farmers, there are many community supported agriculture, commonly referred to as CSA, options in the Stevens Point area.
By signing on with a CSA, customers receive a share of the harvest weekly, biweekly or monthly. Joining a CSA is a powerful way to commit to eating seasonally and locally and provides a connection between farmer and consumer.
There are 20 CSA options in the Stevens Point area which are listed in a brochure created by the Center for Land Use Education which is available online. Many of these CSA’s have different niches and collectively offer just about everything ranging from vegetables and fruits, to cheese, eggs and meat. You name it: it’s probably produced locally.
It’s more than grocery shopping; it’s voting with your dollar. The number of local options in Stevens Point give consumers the power to make a difference and support the kind of community they want to see.