The zero waste movement is more important now than it has ever been. In a society increasingly captivated by consumption, we are wasting significant amounts of material goods, food, and packaging, most of which sadly remains on Mother Earth long after we have disposed of it.
Simply changing our thoughts about food procurement and consumption can make a positive difference. Shopping for, preparing, and disposing of food in a sustainable way may reduce plastic consumption and slow climate change.
If current plastic usage rates continue, it is estimated that 12,000 metric tons will be in our landfills or littered in nature by 2050. In fact, one person alone can throw away over 185 pounds of plastic per year! The decision to use a plastic grocery bag for produce at the grocery store occurs in a split second, yet the consequence of this choice lasts 400-1,000 years (the rate at which the bag will decompose).
While food waste decomposes more rapidly, when it breaks down in trash bags in our landfills it creates methane gas contributing to global warming. Ideally, most food scraps will be composted instead to reduce global warming potential while creating nutrient-rich soil.
I encourage setting an intention to generate less waste while camping at Firefly this year to help leave the sacred space “unmarred by the human footprint.” The gathering honors a pack it in, pack it out philosophy and most trash receptacles available will be to dispose of waste from the food trucks and vendors on site.
I have compiled a few zero waste (and nutritious) snack ideas below that are wonderful choices for packing along on a camping trip. In preparing your snacks, the journey to reduce waste begins when selecting your ingredients. Purchase foods from a bulk bin when possible and bring your own cloth bags or glass jars to place them in. Be sure to get a “tare weight” on any jars before adding your bulk food items. When you are finished with your snacks, place any food scraps in designated compost piles at the gathering. You may also consider bringing all of your own reusable utensils from home (glass or bamboo straws, silverware, cloth napkins, water bottles to fill on site, etc.).
Zero Waste Snack Ideas
Avocado with Nutritional Yeast
Slice an avocado in half, sprinkle with nutritional yeast for a mild cheesy flavor, and share with a friend (if you want)! Nutritional yeast, or “nooch,” grows on molasses and is harvested and flaked. Some varieties are fortified with vitamin B-12. It can usually be found in a bulk bin.
Create your own custom blend of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and grain from the bulk bin. Store in a cloth bag or glass jar.
Once you have cooked your desired amount of chickpeas (dry from the bulk bin), pat them very dry with a cloth and place them in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season per your preference (I am happy with just sea salt). Stir well to coat the beans and lay evenly on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes (check on them and stir often). Let cool and place in a cloth bag or jar. *Note: This are only crispy upon removal from the oven, they will be chewy at the campsite!
Date and Nut Bars
Press a mixture of chopped pitted dates, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and other dried fruit (if you wish) into a glass pan. Cut into squares (these may be a bit crumbly). If you wish for a sturdier bar, consider baking a homemade granola bar recipe.
Date and Nut Balls
In a food processor add desired amounts of nuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and cinnamon. Blend until the texture is “flour like.” Next add a few tablespoons of peanut butter and pitted dates, little by little, until the mixture becomes sticky. Remove from the food processor, roll into balls, and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Obviously fresh fruit makes an appearance on this list, and is completely compostable (minus those little stickers! Take em’ off before leaving home!). Choosing fruit from your farmers market may help you avoid these stickers and unnecessary packaging surrounding your fruit.
Again, an obvious choice, yet sometimes a forgotten one! Carrots, radishes, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, and bell peppers are great pack-along choices. Pack with care!
Add the following to a food processor and blend: 2 cups roasted nuts (I used walnuts and almonds I had on hand), 1 tbsp. coconut oil, ¼ cup pure maple syrup, 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 2 tbsp. cocoa powder, and a pinch of sea salt. Drain off any extra liquid and scoop into a jar for easy travel.
This delicious mixture is wonderful spread on a banana or used as a dip for apple slices.
Pop a batch of popcorn at home and toss into a reusable produce bag closed with string. If seasoning is a must, you could pack a little oil, along with your favorite herbs and spices (I am a turmeric and black pepper popcorn fan all the way!) and flavor prior to serving.
Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
In a food processor blend 14 ounces coconut milk (if from a can, please recycle!) or homemade nut milk with 1/3 cup chia seeds, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla, ¼ cup pure maple syrup or honey, and a spoonful of cocoa powder. Scoop into a mason jar and chill for a few hours in the refrigerator. Pack along in a cooler and eat early on in your camping journey.
Use the leftover pulp from homemade nut milk and blend with dates, cinnamon, a touch of honey and vanilla. Press into cookies and place in a dehydrator overnight. Pack along in a resuable container.
Whip up your favorite loaf bread or quick bread recipe and pack along with freshly ground nut butter or jam in a jar. Don’t have time to make your own? Visit the farmers market and bring your own cloth bag to place the bread in.
Hard Boiled Eggs
Bonus points if they are straight from the coop! Pack along in a cooler and enjoy soon.