5 Ways I’m Trying to Reduce My Carbon Footprint

In August’s Afterthoughts, I made a promise that I was going to try five new things to help me do better with the four R’s—reduce, reuse, recycle, recover. Here’s what I managed to accomplish.


Home herb garden

Reduce, reuse, recycle, recover! Photo: Matt Montgomery / Unsplash


1. Grow more herbs, fruits and veggies at home.

A few years ago I received an AeroGarden kit for Christmas, a hydroponic system with seed pods for basil, dill and parsley. I haven’t thoroughly cleaned it since my last harvest, but I have more herb pods ready to go. From those plants, I can re-pot cuttings on my windowsill. I’m making pots at the Hawai‘i Potters’ Guild specifically for this. I’ve also recently planted lettuce and spinach, so fingers crossed I’ll have some homemade salads soon.


SEE ALSO: Afterthoughts: Throwdown


2. Bring my own reusable containers to the store.

Turns out, I don’t buy a lot of nuts, granola and seeds these days. I’d rather make my own granola so I can use local honey and avoid coconut, but then I end up buying ingredients that come prepackaged. Oh, the dilemma. But I have bought granola from Kōkua Market in the past using my own container—just weigh it at the counter first.


SEE ALSO: Local Honey is Having a Moment: What You Should Know About This Sweet Comeback


3. Buy snacks in bulk.

I won a few reusable snack and sandwich bags at a first birthday party recently, and they’re so cute, covered with fruit illustrations, I’m now looking for things to fill them with. I still use Ziploc bags for things like leftover salads, waffles, plain noodles, etc., but I wash and reuse those, too—at least the thicker gallon-size ones. So now I’m focusing on avoiding plastic wrap.


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4. Only use the refillable pod in my Keurig.

A few slip-ups notwithstanding, so far, so good—except that I’m still buying coffee grounds in disposable packages. I brought a jar to Foodland Farms in ‘Āina Haina once, but that location doesn’t sell fresh coffee in bulk, and then I get into the whole issue of “is it better to drive to Ala Moana to fill my own jar or does using more fossil fuel defeat the purpose?” I’ve recently started using a grinder at home, though, and it’s fun to learn how the size of the grinds and different brewing methods make the coffee taste different—more fun than using a pod.


SEE ALSO: Boki’s Beans: A People’s History of Hawaiian Coffee


5. Skip produce bags entirely.

Easy. It’s not like they really do anything other than keep my items from rolling around in my basket and getting bruised, but I can just as easily place them on top of my fabric totes to prevent that. Goodbye!


SEE ALSO: Afterthoughts: Waste Not, Want Not


I may not be acing all of the above, but I have been more mindful of my consumption lately. I recently made a ceramic bowl with handles to use for lunch at work, and I love it so much I want to eat out of it every day (meaning I don’t get as much takeout). The greatest part is a few of my co-workers have requested I make them bowls, too—which means fewer paper plates for everyone.