How Green Can You Be? Canio’s in Sag Harbor Enters the Eco-Challenge

Eco-inspiration: Estia’s Little Kitchen uses kitchen scraps to make compost which goes into the restaurant’s gardens.

Edible readers are no sustainability strangers. We chronicle winemakers boosting the ecological and social impact of their grape growing, and explain why scallop farming can clean up the bays. Eating and drinking local has all sorts of footprint-shrinking benefits. But now Canio’s Cultural Cafe in Sag Harbor is challenging us to look within our own homes and lives and “change one habit for the planet.”

Canio’s has entered a team in the EcoChallenge, a national competition organized by the Northwest Earth Isntittue, that runs begins October 1 and ends on October 15th, and asks people to change one habit (and maybe more) for the planet. Teams participate on the honor system, logging in to report and compare their efforts. (People interested in signing up should join the Canio’s team at this link. Team Name: Eco-Canio’s. Key: canios.)

“I’m focusing on water conservation, so will be perfecting the art of the five-minute shower, and other water saving measures in the bathroom,” wrote Maryann Calendrille, who owns Canio’s with her partner Kathryn Szoka. “As well, we’ll be installing a rain barrel to collect rain water. We’ve started a front-yard square-foot garden which has worked out quite well for our first year. Kathryn is focusing on alternative transportation, i.e. biking to work, linking errands; and trash reduction, i.e. choosing products with less packaging, less plastic.”
For my own part, I’m planning to focus on food waste, prompted by recent revelations that the amount of food the average Aamerican throws away has jumped by 50 percent since 1974. Every day, the average American throws away about one-and-a-half pounds of food. Slightly wilted lettuce, half-eaten cheeseburgers, bruised apples end up in the trash instead of our stomachs. According to Jonathan Bloom, author of “American Wasteland,” each day Americans throw away enough food to fill the 90,000-seat Rose Bowl. Ironically, consumers in developed countries such as the U.S. are responsible for 222 million tons of waste, or nearly the same quantity of food as is produced in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

We are already avid composters, good for the garden and for reducing the number of garbage bags we need to take to the dump (the EPA estimates that food waste and food packaging accounts for 40 percent of the volume of landfills). But we still toss more food than we’d like, sometimes because our children don’t clean their plates and sometimes because we don’t plan well or make more thorough (and creative) use of leftovers. And we have plenty of parsley and basil in the garden that needs to become pesto. To guide us, we found this handy list of 10 tips for reducing food waste from Nourishing the Planet.

“It’s true we do most of these things already,” Szoka continued. “However, I feel the challenge makes us even more conscious of what we’re doing, may cause us to do more, and, most importantly, links us with others nationwide endeavoring to do the same thing.”

LET US KNOW. What are you doing to reduce your impact on the planet? And what’s the one thing you would suggest that others do?