349: How to Live More Sustainably and Avoid Food Waste as a Food Blogger with Marley Goldin

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Various jars of food and the title of Marley Goldin's episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Living More Sustainably.'

This episode is sponsored by InfluenceKit.

Welcome to episode 349 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Marley Goldin from Marley’s Menu about how to live sustainably and avoid food waste as a food blogger.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Camila Hurst from Pies and Tacos about leaning into a niche and blogging as a creative outlet. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

How to Live More Sustainably and Avoid Food Waste

On average, over 40% of food gets tossed annually in the United States, and a large majority of that food waste happens at home. So as both individuals and food bloggers, it’s important that we make conscious decisions about our food.

But what are some easy changes we can implement to live and eat more sustainably? And as food bloggers, when we’re testing lots of recipes, how can we limit food waste?

We’re answering all of those questions (and more) in this episode with Marley Goldin! As a food blogger with a background in environmental science, she is an advocate for making sustainable food choices, and she’s sharing her best tips and advice to show how small changes to our daily lives can make a big impact over time.

A quote from Marley Goldin’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'If you making a small change impacts someone else and encourages them to make that small change, the impact we can have together is infinite.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How Marley got interested in sustainability
  • How she shares sustainability tips on her blog
  • How to avoid food waste as a food blogger
  • What topic clusters are
  • Tips to live a bit more sustainably


About This Week’s Sponsor

We’re excited to announce that this week’s episode is sponsored by our friends at InfluenceKit!

InfluenceKit is the only tool that lets you:

  • View real-time influencer campaign data
  • Create and share professional reports through a simple link
  • Prove your work’s value to the sponsors that you work with
  • And more!

It’s a super slick tool that we love using over at Pinch of Yum, and you can make an InfluenceKit report for free today to see how it works.

Learn more and create a free report on InfluenceKit here.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

Food Blogger Pro logo with the words 'Join the Community' on a blue background

Transcript (click to expand):

Bjork Ostrom: This episode of the podcast is sponsored by our friends, I’ve said this before, but they are literally my friends. I get breakfast with Bruno, one of the co-founders and we go on walks and we talk about business and blogging. And we actually talked about InfluenceKit in the early days, which is why I’m so excited and honored that they’re supporting the podcast. That’s right, this podcast is sponsored by InfluenceKit. So question for you, have you ever thought about how you can stand out to a sponsor or a brand and encourage them to work with you again, time and time, over and over, again and again? That’s the dream, right?

Bjork Ostrom: You get a brand, you really like the partnership that you have with them, maybe the team’s really nice, maybe they asking you to do 1,000 revisions, how do you do that? Well, we know that it’s all about creating really good content, right? Good photos, good recipes if you’re doing a recipe post, compelling video, but the thing that really speaks numbers to brands is numbers, right? And the way that you show that is through campaign reports, and way back in the day Pinch of Yum would create these reports, but we’d do it with a PDF. We’d copy and paste, we’d go and find the data, we’d bring it in, we’d paste it in. We’d send it over and the minute that you send that over, it’s going to be outdated, right?

Bjork Ostrom: You’re going to be sending over numbers that aren’t as good as what they are in real-time, but InfluenceKit not only makes it really easy to give your sponsor an overview of the content’s performance, but it does it in just a few clicks and it keeps it updated in real-time. So you can easily create reports about blog, and social media post performance, engagement, and reach, and the reports they’re these living documents. So they use something called an API, they hook into this different social platforms and they bring all of that in real-time, and it gets updated after you send it over to the brand. It could be days later, months later, or even years later.

Bjork Ostrom: So it’s super easy to use, and there’s a really big value unlock with it in that a brand is always going to be able to see, or an agency if you’re working with agencies, they’re always going to be able to see how that post is performing and the value that you’re offering is reflected in real-time. It’s a great tool, we use it, and the awesome thing is that you can actually try it out for free. So you can get a full-fledged report, a fully functioning report, it’s not some half-baked version of it’s just the actual report that you can send to brands and actually use by going to kit.new, so it’s kit.new. And that will allow you to create a free report, you can see how it works, you can see what it looks like to send that to a brand or an agency that you’re working with, and it’s actually something that we do for Pinch of Yum.

Bjork Ostrom: And we really love it, and it’s an important part of our process, which is why it’s so easy to do this podcast ad because it’s something that we love, and we know that they do good work, and know that there’s thousands of creators and influencers who are using it right now. So again, you can go to kit.new, kit.new to make your own InfluenceKit report, try it out for free, get a feel for how it works and you can see why it’s valuable and how it’s really a level up over a spreadsheet or a PDF. And excited to tell you about it because I think it’ll help you with your business, and also excited to partner with InfluenceKit to sponsor this episode. Thanks to everybody over at InfluenceKit, I appreciate you guys and what you’re up to. Let’s go ahead and jump into this episode.

Bjork Ostrom: Hello. Hello. This is the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. My name is Bjork Ostrom, and you are here I’m guessing because you want to learn about all things blogging business. Maybe you’re a food creator, maybe you’re a brand, and we try and cover all the different angles that you can look at when you are thinking about building a business in the food space, especially an online business. And one of those angles today that we’re going to be talking about is this idea of really thinking strategically about sustainability. Specifically sustainability, around food and food waste. We produce a lot of food in this world that we are in, and we need to think strategically about it.

Bjork Ostrom: And a lot of times we talk about numbers, we talk about growth, we talk about traffic, social media followers, whatever it might be, but it’s also important for us to talk about impact and the impact that our businesses have on the world and the communities around us. And that conversation is going to be one that we were having today with Marley Goldin from Marley’s Menu. She is an expert in this area, she writes a lot of content around this, and she also has a formal background in health science and a Master’s in healthcare management. So she’s going to talk about some of the things that she’s learned along the way, some tips for creators on how you can reduce food, waste, even questions like man, if you have a lot of food, what do you do with it?

Bjork Ostrom: How do you make sure that it doesn’t go to waste and you just dump it out if you’ve been trying 100 cupcakes and don’t want to eat 100 more cupcakes? It’s going to be a fun conversation, and really excited to share it with you. But before we do, I wanted to promo our group foodbloggerpro.com/facebook. It’s a free group that you can join that’s focused on the podcast audience here. So make sure to go to foodbloggerpro.com/facebook, you can join in the conversation in a way that we can’t on a podcast because it’s a podcast. So I would love for you to check that out again, foodblogger.pro.com/facebook. That will redirect you to the page where you can apply to join, and once you do, we’ll do a quick review of your account and then probably not always, but we’ll probably let you in.

Bjork Ostrom: Then you can join in the conversations all around the podcast, upcoming interviews we’re doing if you have any specific questions for folks, and sometimes we do some follow-up back and forth questions and answers for people who are on the podcast. So again, that’s foodblogger.pro.com/facebook that will redirect you to the right place to apply for that. But for now, let’s jump into this interview with Marley. Marley, welcome to the podcast.

Marley Goldin: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. We’re going to focus in on something that I actually… Here’s my story around sustainability.

Marley Goldin: Okay.

Bjork Ostrom: I’ll start it off with a short story. I had what I felt like was a genius discovery last night, it’s the most basic of basics, but it’s a start. Where one of my roles within our family, we have two little girls, is Lindsay will take them up and they’ll do bath and then I’ll clean up the kitchen. And Lena our youngest who’s a little over one has her little milk sippy cup, and usually I would just take that over and dump it out and clean it up. And then she would do one more milk, like a bottle, and I was like, wait a minute, I’m not going to dump this out. I’m going to put this in the fridge and then in an hour or two when she does that bottle, I’m just going to take it out again and use it.

Bjork Ostrom: And it was the most basic of basic, but I feel like there’s 100 different things like that in the world of food sustainability that exists that we don’t even think about. So what I’m curious to know after I tell my short story, I would love to hear your story around how did you get interested in this and passionate about it? And then we’ll talk about some tips and tricks, but also what that looks like for you to fold that into your blog. So I’m curious to hear your story.

Marley Goldin: So as long as I can remember I’ve always really loved the environment and being outside in nature, and just a funny little anecdote. When I was about from ages to 15, I went to Sleepaway Camp and we all had a roll call where they would say our name and we’d say just a one-liner just to respond. And mine was always every year don’t waste water because my friends always made fun of me that I would go behind them and turn off the sink while they were brushing their teeth.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally. Yeah.

Marley Goldin: Yeah. So I think-

Bjork Ostrom: I feel like I am that person for lights, where I’m like if we’re not in the room we got to turn the light off otherwise there’s just no value in it.

Marley Goldin: Yeah. So I just think that I just have always had this innate passion and excitement around sustainability. And that led me to pursue my degree in environmental health science, and I was just armed with all this knowledge about sustainability and the environment that I wasn’t using in any of my previous jobs. So when I became my own boss and I started this food blogging journey, I was like I have to integrate this somehow. This is such a huge part of my life and part of me that I have to figure out how to integrate it. And that’s when I really started researching more about food in the environment, which is a whole huge subject that we weren’t even really taught in school.

Marley Goldin: And then I just started really digging into food waste which is a huge issue right now, and it’s something we have a lot of control over in our homes. And that’s when I started trickling in little what I call green tips which are within each of my recipes. I like to put a skim stopper that is a green tip, and it will talk about maybe you make your own sauce to avoid getting extra plastic. Maybe you will look for organic produce, maybe you will shop seasonally, maybe you’ll take something that you have to use up from your fridge and add it to this recipe. And so with every recipe I started putting in the little green tips to help people understand and even think about sustainability while they’re cooking.

Marley Goldin: And then that turned into writing more standalone sustainability articles that I have on the site, and just becoming more of a resource to people when it comes to food and sustainability and that’s where I am now.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s cool. A couple things that you had mentioned that were interesting, what is a skim stopper? You had mentioned a skim stopper.

Marley Goldin: Yeah. So a skim stopper will be something within your post that you want to make stand out, that when someone’s skimming through your post it will either be bold, or in a different color, or in a different font that will cause them to stop and take a look at it. And even if they don’t read anything else within your blog post, they’re more likely to read that. So what’s that main point you want to get across within your blog? But it doesn’t have to be a green tip, it can be oh pro tip, if you are making this this way, you should use this particular technique or product. It doesn’t have to be a green tip, it can be anything that you want the reader to take away and will also end up making them spend more time on your page. So it’s actually really a smart tactic, not just to get your point across, but also from a business standpoint it’s a smart tactic.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s interesting, there’s something about the way that you structure a blog post which is different than a book or a newspaper article, where the way people consume content on the web is much different.

Marley Goldin: So different.

Bjork Ostrom: And the idea of putting in this green tip so somebody’s skimming and it stops them is a great way not only to call out important information for you, that being sustainability-related tips and advice, but it’s also a great way to structure your content because that’s how people consume it. They look at headlines, one sentence here, a list here, a little call out, and the example that I pulled up here was on a caramelized onions and mushrooms post. And you said organic farms rely on biodiversity to generate rich soil, avoiding the use of pesticides and fertilizers which means no toxic runoff. Consider organic onions and mushrooms for this recipe. So it’s a little tip, it’s like hey, here’s why organic’s important, right? I think lot of times people are like, “Wait, what’s the reason why I’d buy organic?”

Bjork Ostrom: Well, here’s why. This is an important thing, you’re not going to have pesticides and fertilizers, it’s more of this intentional use of rich soil to get good results from the things that they’re growing. So have you found for your site that are people coming to you because they know? Are they aligning with you because they are sustainability-minded people or do you feel what you’re doing is sustainability evangelism in a way that somebody might come across a recipe and you might be like, “Hey, here’s this an important thing that you should know.” How do you view that in terms of the content that you’re creating? More like influence and impact on new people who aren’t sustainability-minded, or additional content for people who already are sustainability mind?

Marley Goldin: Right. I’m so glad you brought that up, because when I was trying to figure out how to integrate this into my blog I was really concentrating on what’s missing from the industry. And I feel like there are so many great people who do such great sustainability things already, whether it be in food blogging or lifestyle blogging. And I think that what’s missing is for those people who have no concept of sustainability, it’s not a part of their lifestyle at all. A lot of those things can be really intimidating and guilt inducing, and I think that for me I wanted to cast a wider net and be more of a gateway into people who know nothing and still they’re not ready to give up their modern lifestyle or gourmet pallets just to be more sustainable.

Marley Goldin: But instead I wanted to be that person who could say listen, we could all do better, but let’s start here. Let’s start here, let’s not overlook the small things you can do just because you can’t be perfect all the time. A big part of what I constantly say and do is saying small changes over time can make a big impact. So don’t be discouraged by the fact that you can’t be perfect because you’re not ready to go completely zero waste, plastic-free, completely vegan, all these things that are great goals, but maybe aren’t for everyone. So you’ll see me say a lot and hear me say a lot attainable sustainable, because I really want people to understand that the small changes do have an impact as well.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s great. It’s almost like people who are sustainable curious, right? Like they talk about sober curious where it’s like I’m going to experiment with not drinking. It’s people who are like, “I feel like I want to do better at this, but I don’t have super strong opinions on it or a zero-waste kind of situation.” It’s like, “Hey, I just don’t want to use as many plastic bags. Well, how do you do that?” So with that as an example, knowing that the people who are listening to this podcast are probably producing more food than normal because not only are they producing it for themselves and for their family, but also a lot of times probably doing multiple rounds of testing, sometimes it doesn’t work out. How do you start to step into this and to reach attainable sustainable while also knowing that you’re producing more food than maybe most folks would?

Marley Goldin: Right. So I think for one thing, something that I do and that a lot of people could be doing is testing in smaller batches, whether it be baking or cooking. If it’s something that you’re trying out for the first time and you’re not completely confident it’s going to come out perfectly, start with a smaller batch. For one, you know you’re going to end up wasting less ingredients and wasting less final product, but for two, you’re also gaining knowledge about your recipe and giving yourself more to write about in the blog post. Listen, you can half this recipe, you can third this recipe it’s tested and tried, it’s true, it’s good this way too. So I think starting with this testing in smaller batches is a really great way to avoid a lot of extra food waste.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And let’s say it’s baking, how much would you run into a situation where, “Hey, you’re going to do a half or a quarter batch of something?” Do you run into then when you scale it up it doesn’t actually do what you want it to do? I’m speaking outside of my expertise because I’m not the one doing the recipe testing, but-

Marley Goldin: Yeah. No, it’s harder with baking because a lot of times if you’re using an egg it’s hard to half an egg. Usually scaling up is easy, it’s the scaling down and testing in smaller batches that’s harder. But I will say especially with like a cookie, if you’re testing it in a smaller batch and maybe it spreads too much, it’s usually still edible. You’re maybe not ready to put that on your blog because no one wants a huge cookie that’s spread and completely flat, but it might be really good edible plate for your ice cream.

Marley Goldin: You want to make sure you’re doing things that are still going to be not directly for the trash, it can still be something you share with your neighbor and say, “Hey, this is my first test they’re a little thinner than I want them to come out, but they’re still delicious.” So thinking about those things and also like I said, it’s hard sometimes with baking, but usually with baking, things are still edible. They may not be perfect, but you can still consume them and freeze them, and consume that at a later date.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yeah. So idea of being maybe it’s not the perfect outcome, but it’s still something you could take and say, “Hey, I’m going to keep this. I’m not just going to toss it, freeze it, come back to it later.” I’d be curious to know, I think just in general, this idea of waste less is good, but what is the why behind it? In doing this what are we actually doing?

Marley Goldin: Right.

Bjork Ostrom: Part of it is you’re spending less, great financial decision. Part of it is you have this thing, you might as well give it to other people. You’re maybe not putting it into a landfill, but it’s disposable or it’ll compost. So what is the reason behind it for people who’d maybe be curious around that?

Marley Goldin: I think it’s twofold. For one, the food industry has a huge impact on the environment. 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the food industry, it’s a huge amount. A quarter of our annual freshwater consumption goes to the food industry, whether it be to make new crops or for animal feeds, things like that. And it contributes to air, water, soil, noise pollution, and for all of that damage that’s happening to the environment for 40% of food to go to waste it’s just really detrimental. Also, what you said about it’s organic, it will compost, actually when food is diverted to a landfill, it doesn’t have the oxygen it needs to break down organically.

Bjork Ostrom: So instead it doesn’t technically. Yeah.

Marley Goldin: It doesn’t, so it instead breaks down into methane and water. And what happens to that water is it sinks to the bottom of the landfill, it mixes with other pollutants that are in the landfill and it can leak out in something that’s called leaching. So not only are you not consuming the food that has put so much stress on the environment, but you’re diverting it to a place where it can’t break down organically. So that’s the first reason. The second reason I think we can all understand and get behind is that it’s ethically wrong.

Marley Goldin: There’s one in nine people are hungry or malnourished and it’s not because there’s a lack of food, it’s because the higher demand for food in the west is actually driving up prices for food in other areas. And we’re taking food away essentially from places that need it to come to places that will inevitably waste it. And so for those two main reasons, I think that food waste is just a bigger issue than an environmental issue, it’s a humanitarian issue as well.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s almost like when you look at the supply and demand side, if we can accurately reduce the demand by correcting the actual amount of food that’s needed. So let’s say the actual amount of food that’s needed is maybe 60% of what we’re actually consuming because I don’t know what we’re throwing out. Do you know on average how much food would we throw out that we consume?

Marley Goldin: In the U.S it’s 40% estimated.

Bjork Ostrom: 40%, okay. Interesting. So 60% of food we’re actually consuming, 40% we’re throwing out which even when I think about our own behavior, it’s like, oh, this is expired, toss it. If demand goes down, then that’s going to impact pricing, impact pricing from what I hear you saying is that could then be global in terms of making food more affordable on a global basis. How about on that consumption side? What is your mindset around purchasing in a way where there’s macro supply and demand, but then there’s household supply and demand? And how do you get your 60% of actual consumption closer to 95% actual consumption without just eating more than you need to in order to consume the food? How do you do better at that?

Marley Goldin: It’s hard, and it’s something that I struggle with personally, but it’s really all about planning. It’s all about planning and understanding, sitting down before you go to the store. Instead of just throwing things into your cart, looking at especially as a food blogger what recipes do I want to develop this week? And then it’s actually even smart from a business standpoint because you think about, okay, this week I’m going to make a chimichurri recipe. And then once I make the chimichurri recipe, I am going to test X, Y, Z recipes that actually use the actual chimichurri recipe in those recipes.

Marley Goldin: And so every single Sunday what I personally do is I sit down and I think about, okay, what am I going to work on this week? What do I actually need to buy? What do I already have in my fridge? What are the quantities? And then I don’t assume that I’m going to mess up, I do travel back to the grocery store if I need to retest something. And then even if you don’t want to post all of those recipes sequentially, you can have them in your repertoire to post later. And what that means is you’re also creating a cluster, a topic cluster around your own content that actually helps with internal linking, it helps with your EAT on Google.

Marley Goldin: So it’s a smart business decision, and a happy byproduct of that is that you’re not going to end up wasting as much produce, you’re not going to end up wasting as much ingredients that you either already have in your pantry and you’ve assessed and you took stock of that, or you just didn’t buy unnecessarily.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Can you talk more about that idea of clustering and internal linking, EAT? I think a lot of people would hear you say that and be like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” Can you double-click on that and explain it in depth a little bit more?

Marley Goldin: Yeah. So for me, it’s been a total game-changer for my blog. It’s just helped with my Google ranking so much because what I’ve done is I’ve really planned around what we’re calling a topic cluster. So just in that recipe alone, that example alone, I’ve made a chimichurri recipe and now I have three other recipes to link to naturally that the reader will actually probably be interested in, right? Because I know they’re searching for a chimichurri recipe, they’ve made their chimichurri, what are they going to put it on? And that goes for the other way too, so once I’ve made the recipe that includes a chimichurri, I’m not going to put in my recipe card how to make that chimichurri because you can buy it.

Marley Goldin: You can decide to buy it or, “Hey, as linked to my chimichurri recipe in case you want to make it at home instead.” So it’s a very organic way to link between your posts, and it also shows Google… We’ll talk about Google as a person, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yeah.

Marley Goldin: It shows Google that you have an in-depth knowledge on this, on chimichurri because you have three recipes on it, and you have a standalone recipe that they’re all linking back to.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Marley Goldin: So… Yeah, go ahead.

Bjork Ostrom: Well, and the idea with that I’m curious to here the tie back to sustainability with that is like hey, if you’re going out and you’re purchasing ingredients in a certain category, you can create other types of recipes within that, that being a topic cluster. Am I getting at that, what you’re saying?

Marley Goldin: Exactly. Right. Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. And point being for those who aren’t familiar, there’s this SEO best practice around, hey, a real broad example, if you’re going to start a website, one thing you could do let’s say you were me and you were going to start a website, you could do things that I’m interested in. I could say Bjork site and one day I could post about ping pong, and then the next day I could post about coffee, and then the next day I could post about tech. That’s not a great idea, and because it’s all these random things. As you get more focused the more beneficial it is because then Google can see, hey, this is a tech site.

Bjork Ostrom: But even within that, what you’re saying, what I hear you saying is you can have clusters of content and you can be viewed as an authority around that cluster people would talk about. These would all be search terms that people could use if you want to learn more about it so topic cluster, hub and spoke would be another example. So one of the ways we’re thinking about this with Food Blogger Pro is hey, how do we have a hub and spoke topic cluster around food photography or food videography? And you can get those on a more micro level, which I hear you saying, which would be more ingredient based or hey, you have more specific examples of these chimichurri recipes that you’re doing.

Bjork Ostrom: How broad do you view those for you and your site? Even within your sidebar here I see you have, these would be broader ones, vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, you can click into those and dwindle it down and say, hey, breakfast, vegan, for instance. Do you have a general thought around how you view your content and organize it? And even does that impact then how you go out and shop for those ingredients to bring it back to the sustainability part?

Marley Goldin: Yes, absolutely. So I just think it’s a more natural way for your user to click through your content personally, because I think that if you’ve grabbed someone on a particular recipe you already know they have interest in that. So you already know that you’re not just doing random links because you’re supposed to, because of whatever Yost is telling you, you’re doing it because it’s an actual aid to your user. And on that note, it’s also encouraging your user not to waste ingredients, because if I’m making a raspberry tart and I call for four ounces of raspberries, but grocery stores sell them in eight ounces then your user’s left with four ounces of raspberries that are going to sit in their fridge unless maybe they’ll snack on them on their own.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. True.

Marley Goldin: But also unless you direct them to another place to use up those raspberries. So not only are you actually giving them an option to use the ingredients, but you’re actually putting a little bug in their ear saying, “Oh, you know what? I’m going to make something else with this.” And you’re encouraging your reader not to waste. So not only are you helping your own self organize your content, but you’re really digging into what the user needs because you already know they have those raspberries in their fridge because they only used half of it for your other recipe.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Marley Goldin: So I think no matter how you look at it, it’s a really good practice. And at the end of the day you’re not going to waste as much, your user is not going to waste as much, and you’re really putting an effort into using every bit of that ingredient that you had them go out and buy. And I’m so passionate about this because we’re in people’s kitchens, we have an opportunity to really help them understand without even having to understand the science and the heaviness behind food waste. You’re helping them understand that yeah, you’re buying this ingredient, let’s use it thoroughly, let’s use it all up. And that’s just so important to me, and I feel like it should be important to everyone because it’s helpful on the sustainability side, but it’s also helpful for you as someone who’s in people’s kitchens, you’re helping them. You’re helping them.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Point being that we’re as creators and people with a voice in a unique position, in that we can help people understand how to do this better.

Marley Goldin: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: And it could be a little call out in a note, it could be a little piece of advice that you have, a skim stop or whatever it might be. I’d be curious to know what are the ones that you shared that have been most impactful, that really resonate with people? Where it’s like, oh, I don’t have to throw the milk out when I give it to my one-year-old at the table, that’s my tip, right? So like put it in the fridge.

Marley Goldin: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: What are the ones that you’ve shared where people are like, “Oh my gosh. Yeah, that’s great.” And maybe what we’ll do, here’s the game that we’ll play.

Marley Goldin: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: We’ll go every other. So I’m not as good at this, but I have some random ones that I’m sure that I’ll be able to think of.

Marley Goldin: Okay.

Bjork Ostrom: And we can go back and forth on our own, these are our podcast skim stoppers, the things that people can be doing, or these are the things that either person can be doing or sharing with their audience around sustainable green best practices.

Marley Goldin: Sure.

Bjork Ostrom: So I don’t know how long this will go, we’ll see.

Marley Goldin: Okay.

Bjork Ostrom: I probably have three, but you can go first.

Marley Goldin: Okay. So I always recommend to buy or look at your butter because a lot of people use the tub butters, which a lot of times can have palm oil in it. Palm oil is a huge contributor to deforestation, so I would say make sure your butter is pure butter and doesn’t have extra palm oil in it which is unnecessary.

Bjork Ostrom: Oh, interesting. So here’s mine. I have to go broader, I can’t do just food, but I’ll go with sustainability.

Marley Goldin: Okay. That’s fair.

Bjork Ostrom: And as always happens, it’ll somehow come back to tech for some of these, at least my first few ones. So you talked about wasting water, one of the devices that we installed, I installed one for my parents, for us, is called Flume, Flume. And what it does is it hooks up to your main water, where your water comes in in your house and it reads how much water you use. And so not only can you see how much water you use, but it’s also really helpful because it lets you know if there’s a leak. And I would say especially in the summer, if we’re outside and using the hose or something I would say once a month there’s some random leak, and this will notify me of either excessive water use or leaks. So it’s an awesome device, it’s called Flume.

Marley Goldin: Awesome.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So that’s mine. Do you have one?

Marley Goldin: Okay. Yeah. How about to look for UTZ or Rainforest Alliance certifications if you’re looking for more sustainable brands. Those are trusted resources that you can actually look for those labels on different brands when you’re shopping in the food store.

Bjork Ostrom: What is it? UT…

Marley Goldin: UTZ certification or Rainforest Alliance. You’ll see it on coffee, you’ll see it on chocolate, you’ll see it on all kinds of different food products. And it’s a label that you can look for easily to identify that it’s a brand that has sustainability front of mind.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great. And we’ll link to that in the show notes of people want to see what that looks like. Here’s mine, easy one, but I’d be interested after I say this if you have additional thoughts around it. When we go to the grocery store I would say sometimes we use a bag that we take, but other times we’ll just have the plastic or the paper. Switching over to just having your own bag I’d be interested if you have advice on how to do that better because as easy as it is, it also feels like a hard thing to do in terms of remembering to bring it. And then the sub-question to that is in your opinion, is paper better than plastic when you’re loading up? Because I’ve heard people have different opinions on that.

Marley Goldin: Yes. And this is going to spark me into something else about recycling in general, but yes best practice for switching over to those bags is to just keep them in your car. So once you unload your groceries, and this is if you drive to the grocery store. If you walk, then keep them by the front door, but keep them in your car. So what I do is I unload the groceries, and then I immediately just put it back in my trunk because I will always forget. I will always forget so I know I have to keep them in the car. In terms of paper versus plastic, yes paper bags are recyclable, the plastic bags are not even though you may think they are. You can bring them back to most grocery stores will actually allow you to bring the plastic bags back. They either have a place outside you can put them, or you can bring them into the checkout line and bring them back.

Bjork Ostrom: Are those actually being recycled? I’ve heard different opinions on what that actually looks once that leaves the grocery store or wherever it is that you’re dropping those off. And it seems like soft plastics like that it’s hard to successfully repurpose and recycle those. Do you know anything about that?

Marley Goldin: Yeah, it is. Only 9% of plastics get recycled despite our best efforts, and that’s because-

Bjork Ostrom: Otherwise they just end up in a landfill?

Marley Goldin: Uh-huh (affirmative). And a lot of them are meant for single-use, they’re really produced not to be recycled.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Marley Goldin: And even when you are recycling them, we’re talking about plastics not glass and not aluminum, but when you recycle plastics, they actually have to put more plastic into it. It’s not a 100% recyclable. So it’s not a bottle and then they reprocess it and it’s a bottle again, it’s a bottle, they reprocess it, add more plastic into it and then it’s a bottle again.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Marley Goldin: So we’re constantly creating more plastic.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Marley Goldin: And that would lead to my next tip, is make sure you are “recycling” correctly. I’m doing air quotes only you can see me, but the reason I’m doing that is because the recycling laws are different county to county, state to state. I just moved two weeks ago from Florida to Georgia, and here I’m finding out I can’t recycle glass with my plastic. So I’m going to have to figure out a different system for that, but it’s not just, oh, this has a recyclable symbol on it, I can chuck it in my recycling. Make sure you understand in your specific location what is recyclable and what’s not, because if you’re recycling things that are not actually recyclable in your county, you’re actually doing more harm. There’s a term for it called wishcycling, and it means you’re just putting things into the recycling that aren’t recyclable and that’s actually-

Bjork Ostrom: Make you feel better by putting it in the recycling.

Marley Goldin: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: But then it’s only you feeling better, it just still goes in the landfill.

Marley Goldin: It does, and it costs those recycling plant time, effort, and money to actually sort through and sometimes they don’t have the capacity to do that. And if there’s an area of recycling that they see as contaminated with things that can’t be recycled, that all of that goes to the landfill. So you really have to make sure you understand where you are, what can be recycled and what cannot, and usually your county website will have a very in-depth description of what you can and can’t recycle.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. It’s a little bit of a bummer, but one of the things that you had talked about that fixes this problem is the idea of just not consuming plastic as much. And you had said making your own sauces as opposed to purchasing them. Is that essentially what you’re getting after with that?

Marley Goldin: Yeah. Or-

Bjork Ostrom: And that would apply to everything, ketchup, mustard, making your own sauces.

Marley Goldin: Absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yeah.

Marley Goldin: Simple syrup, anything that you’ll buy that will come in something that’s plastic. Or if you don’t have the capacity to, or you just don’t have time to make your own, look for sauces that are jarred in glass, because glass is a 100% recyclable and cans, cans are a 100% recyclable. So maybe just steer away from the plastic.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. It’s interesting in the Philippines, we lived there for a year and one of the things that they would do is you’d have glass bottles for Coke or whatever, beers, but then they would reuse those glass bottles. It wouldn’t be just recycle them it would just be hey, clean them out and reuse them. So you’d see they’d have marks on them and stuff, but just interesting, I feel like from a sustainability standpoint a developing country doing better which is cool to see. I’m running out, I’m already running out of sustainability tips, but one of the things that I’ve loved, this isn’t food-related, but one of the things that I’ve loved is we have…

Bjork Ostrom: It’s more of a tech tip, this is just what I do, it’s how I roll. We have our phone set to be aware of when we come and leave, and so in terms of heating and cooling our houses or the office, when I pull up to the office I’ll get up, it’ll start to heat, but it’s because we have a Nest thermostat and it’s been super helpful.

Marley Goldin: Yes, I love mine.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s just such great simple tech, but to set that in a way temperature and it will even tell you, it’ll show a little leaf where if you get into a category that is I think sustainable in their eyes or environmentally friendly, I don’t know what the leaf actually stands for, but-

Marley Goldin: It says eco, doesn’t it?

Bjork Ostrom: Eco, yeah that’s right. Yep. But that’s been super helpful so I don’t have to think hey, turn the heat off, turn the heat on. Today it’s super cold in Minnesota, and so to heat is really expensive, but if we’re not somewhere it doesn’t make sense to have that stay on. So that’s one on my end, do you have an additional one? These are all of your green tips from your scroll stoppers.

Marley Goldin: I know, I’m going to try to divert away from all the food ones because you can get those all on my site, but outside of food something that we waste a lot and we go through a lot is clothes. So maybe instead of fast fashion, really trying to get things that are super trendy that you might only wear twice and then might go in the trash, maybe think about your closet as maybe investing a little more in a more sustainable fabric. And having that for a long time and having these pieces that you can wear forever instead of just going through things that you’ll inevitably throw out. And of course donate things, always donate things instead of just tossing them.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. We do Goodwill a lot, we have one close by, do you have recommendations on where the best place to bring those would be? And the other question that I have along with that is, and this is just a consultation now for me. If you have a piece of clothing for instance or yeah, clothing we’ll stick with that, that you’re like, “This wouldn’t really make sense to donate it. I wear it, but it would probably be insulting to be like, ‘Hey, somebody else should wear this.’” A lot of my clothes are in that category. Are there ways that you can still recycle clothes or donate those in a way where you’re not just throwing it in the garbage?

Marley Goldin: There are. There are different websites and things that will take them and repurpose them, but I think going back to your first question where should I bring them? It’s just anywhere that’s convenient for you. Don’t let the excuse of, “Ugh, that one’s too far away.” Wherever will take your clothes, bring them there. And I guess I just had fallen victim to wanting to be trendy in my culture, and I ended up wasting so much clothes and I hate that, but I think just it’s never too late. Never think, “Ugh, my closet’s a mess. I’m just going to not do it.” You can always just move forward doing what you think is making a more conscious decision.

Marley Goldin: And you can donate what you have and start from scratch, or you can just add little pieces here and there that you think will be a more sustainable purchase for you. So I think it’s all-around mindset, like let’s donate these things where it’s convenient for me. I’ve done that, let’s moving forward make more responsible decisions. And for me, the ratty shirts that you don’t feel comfortable donating, I keep them somewhere for when I’m painting or doing art, or those become my yard work.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally, or use it as…

Marley Goldin: Yeah, exactly. And those are all examples of… And like you said with the glass bottles, those are examples of upcycling and that’s a really great way you can be sustainable. Is if I end up getting takeout and they give me those plastic takeout things.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, the worst.

Marley Goldin: Yeah, I get frustrated then I’m like, you know what? This is great, I’m going to store all my phone chargers and things like that in here and use it as an organization thing. So just think about things before they go into the landfill. Think about if there’s a use for you, for them. I’m not suggesting you become a hoarder, but I am saying that there’s always ways to upcycle things, and there’s always different uses for things. And just being mindful about that, can really make a difference.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. I wish I remembered the name of it, but one of the things I was going to mention is Lindsay has a subscription to the service where it’s clothes rental. They’ll send a box of clothes-

Marley Goldin: Rent the Runway probably? Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s that one or what it is, but it’s just day to day stuff. I don’t know if Rent the Runway is more fancy.

Marley Goldin: It’s more formal?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I don’t know, but it’s been great because then you can have stuff for a season and then you send it back and it’s for Lindsay she thinks a lot about that. This will be another tip that I’m stealing from Lindsay, but she’s a part of a group, and I don’t know if this is an app within Facebook or if it’s just different community groups, but… Shoot, I’m not going to remember the name of it. We can link to it in the show notes, but it’s like… oh, it’s Buy Nothing, a Buy Nothing group.

Marley Goldin: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Do you know what that is and how does that work?

Marley Goldin: Yes those are great. Yes, I use them all the time. It’s great. So it’s basically… They have it on Facebook and you can search Buy Nothing and then your town or wherever you are. And then it’s basically you post stuff on there that you don’t want anymore, and you can either meet someone somewhere to give it, or you can have them come pick it up from your house And it just goes back to one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It’s really, really useful for baby things.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Marley Goldin: I’ve found I have so much baby stuff that Charlie doesn’t use anymore that I would love someone else to have, their lightly used. And I’ve found that even when we just moved recently we got all of our moving boxes from Buy Nothing, and we paid it forward and people were so grateful to not have to buy those moving boxes.

Bjork Ostrom: Our daughter Solvie is super into Paw Patrol, she’s memorizing the order of the Paw Patrol when they show up. So my mom got her Paw Patrol socks, but they don’t have the grippers on them and our floors are super slippery. So anyways, I bought new Paw Patrol socks, but Lindsay most recently put them on Buy Nothing And somebody’s like, “Yeah, awesome Paw Patrol socks.” Or we had day balloons and they had been through 10 different families, they were the big number birthday balloons, but it’s like you use them once and usually you would just throw them out, but it’s like, hey, if somebody else is having a birthday party for their kid, who’s turning two in a week. And so there was this long train of people who would use these birthday party balloons so it’s a great resource integrating with to your point, upcycle.

Marley Goldin: I love that.

Bjork Ostrom: So I’d be curious as we close out here to come back to your blog to talk a little bit about that. When you envision the future of that, do you envision sustainability becoming more of what you do and more of your focus? And how much of it for you is a business decision versus an impact decision? And it almost seems like this category of there’s a business category called B Corp, which is like hey, you’re a for-profit company, but you have a double bottom line in that you want to be successful from a growth and revenue perspective, but you also want to have an impact.

Bjork Ostrom: I think Etsy is a B Corp, Tom Shoes is a B Corp. It seems like the type of work that you’re doing is in line with that where you have a site, you want to run a successful site, you want it to be career and revenue-producing, career-advancing, but also to make an impact. So when you think of what you’re doing in your day to day, how does that all align in your mind and where do you envision it going forward?

Marley Goldin: Yeah, I think now that I have a good foundation of recipes and articles on my site, I feel freer to do what drives me and what I’m passionate about and that of course is sustainability, and that of course is food. So I think moving forward now that I have laid that good foundation, I think I’m going to focus more on maybe bringing to my readers new ways outside of food to be more sustainable. And I think I’m going to gauge the interest there before I go full hog headfirst into that, but I think I really want to be more of a resource to people who are sustainability curious and who just don’t even know where to start in all aspects of sustainability.

Marley Goldin: So I think I’ve found success in filtering it into my recipes, and now I really want to figure out how else can I filter it into people’s lives and their lifestyle? And how can I give them information without inducing any guilt or without overwhelming people? So that’s where my head is at right now, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I recognize that we need bigger changes in terms of sustainability on a higher scale and above what we can do as individuals, but I don’t want that to discourage people from making changes. Making small changes it not only deepens your commitment to sustainability, but there is a trickle effect. Whether you have a blog or you don’t, your actions affect the people around you.

Marley Goldin: And if you making a small change impacts someone else and it encourages them to make that small change, the impact we can have together is infinite. So I think I have to say that, yes, I acknowledge that there has to be a bigger change on a larger scale, but also what we do still matters.

Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s great. Point being sweeping changes, governmental, business, those have huge impacts, right? So like Tesla becoming a popular car, that’s battery versus gas, or just EV cars in general that’s going to have a big impact. But also I think one of the truths to that, and one of the things I pull from your reflections on that is that doesn’t happen unless people are willing to buy EV cars. And the way that that shifts is by individuals making decisions, and other individuals being impacted by those decisions.

Marley Goldin: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: So even in a silo if I were to change with nobody around me and nobody hearing or being impacted by it, great, but globally it’s probably not going to have a huge impact. If I were to change and then I were to share that with my circle of friends, podcasts listeners, people on my blog, that starts to have, to your point a ripple effect on the influence and that comes up. And individual behaviors change other individual behaviors, which change macro behaviors, whether governmental or business. So there’s two truths of hey, what you’re doing as an individual maybe doesn’t feel like it has a big impact, but it actually does because the things that you do impact other people, which impacts on a broader, bigger scale.

Bjork Ostrom: And it’s cool to see you being passionate about that, both in saying hey podcast, let’s talk about sustainability. Hey, on my blog let’s about sustainability when you could be talking about a lot of other things or promoting your own stuff, whatever it might be. So it’s really cool to see that and inspiring. For those Marley, who want to explore their curiosity around sustainability, you have a lot of resources.

Marley Goldin: I do.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m guessing you’ll continue to publish those. What’s the best way for people to do a deep dive into that, to learn a little bit more follow along with what you’re up to whether on your site or just other areas to explore?

Marley Goldin: Yeah. So on my site I do have a whole section called do our food choices matter? And that really dives really deep into the food industry as it pertains to climate change, pollutants, microplastics, food waste as we’ve been talking about. So there’s that, that’s there for you. I try to make it not boring and really short and sweet so that you can just get through it quickly and get the information you need. I also have a whole section on composting, so I have an article about advantages of composting, why we should be doing more of that, how to do it, whether it be in your backyard or in a more urban setting. And then I have specific articles on different ingredients and how you can best compost them.

Marley Goldin: And then outside of that, I do always link to resources that I find helpful, whether it be within my actual recipe or within my sustainability articles. I’m always shouting out people I think you should be listening to. So you can find me at marleysmenu.com, that’s my blog. Or you can find me on Instagram @Marleysmenu. I also have a Facebook, and I just don’t want anyone to hesitate to reach out because I cannot tell you how happy it makes me when someone asks me a question about sustainability. It’s never an intrusion or it’s never a bother, I’m always happy to answer from my knowledge or even do more research for you. So please reach out to me, all of my contact information is on my site. I’m happy to answer an email or a direct message on Instagram.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Marley, super fun to connect and talk about this.

Marley Goldin: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I really appreciate it, and I have some takeaways, some things that I learned even about composting, this was going to be my last quick story. I’ll start with a story, end with a story. When we lived in St. Paul, there’s a local compost, and so we’d put our compost in a little bin and then once a week we would take it to the community dropoff site. And there was also an issue in our neighborhood at the time with random drive-by robberies, people petty theft stuff, and one day I woke up and our little bin of compost was gone and I checked our nest camera and somebody had driven by and they saw this bucket and I’m sure they thought, hey tools, or something expensive, and they stole it.

Marley Goldin: Jokes on them.

Bjork Ostrom: And they threw it in their car, and it was all of our composted food.

Marley Goldin: They’ve got a really healthy garden now.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, maybe that’s what it was, maybe it was somebody who was just running low on compost and they really needed it so that was my composting story. But when we moved, we didn’t get back into it so that’ll be a good note for me to revisit our system around compost and be sure to-

Marley Goldin: Right? And again, as food bloggers or people in the food industry, we consume and produce more food than the average household so it’s something to think about just as a food blogger. Probably most people listening to this podcast is think about your responsibility as someone who consumes and produces more food that might be a good step for you.

Bjork Ostrom: That would be our good little green tip at the end is if you’re not, to think about composting.

Marley Goldin: Yeah, absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: Obviously a big impactful thing. So Marley, thanks for coming on. Really great to connect.

Marley Goldin: Yes. Thank you so much.

Alexa Peduzzi: Hey there. Alexa here from the Food Blogger Pro team, I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. I wanted to take a quick second to make sure you are aware of the Food Blogger Pro membership. So the Food Blogger Pro membership, Food Blogger Pro in general was started when Bjork and Lindsay Ostrom, Lindsay is the content creator over at Pinch of Yum. When they started getting a ton of questions about starting and growing and monetizing food blogs. So people would come to them and say, “Hey, I see what you’re doing. I love what you’re doing. How can I do the same thing?” So they decided Food Blogger Pro to be the place where food bloggers, food content creators can go to learn how to start, grow, and monetize their own food blogs.

Alexa Peduzzi: So we have different courses, we have different events, we have different tools and deals for our community. We have a community forum where members can connect, collaborate, and troubleshoot with industry experts and their fellow Food Blogger Pro members, and it’s just a really active place. I always like to say that your Food Blogger Pro membership won’t look the same the next week after you join, because we’re constantly adding new content, new value to your membership. I wanted to read this testimonial from a Food Blogger Pro member, Alistair from The Pesky Vegan. And he says, “Starting a food blog can feel pretty daunting more often than not. It’s probably something you’re trying to do on your own without much prior experience.

Alexa Peduzzi: Signing up to Food Blogger Pro was one of the single best things I could have done, as it removed a lot of the worries I had and provided me with a supportive community and a wealth of invaluable information. When I think about the journey I’ve been on, I simply can’t imagine getting to where I am without this membership. Thank you.” It’s so cool to see so many different experiences with Food Blogger Pro, we have tons of testimonials on our site if you’re interested in learning more. And if you’re interested in learning more about the membership, what that looks like, what you get when you sign up as a member, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/join. You get access to everything we have the moment you sign up.

Alexa Peduzzi: So no content is dripped, you can just create your own journey through our content and access what is most meaningful and beneficial for you. So again, that URL is foodblggerpro.com/join if you’re interested in learning more, otherwise, we’ll see you here on the podcast next week. And until then make it a great week.

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