Reusable Bags Made Easy

This post was sponsored by BagPodz. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please see my full disclosure for more information. 

Reusable bags made easy plus 3 tips to help you remember to bring them with you to the store from

Welcome back to another eco-friendly Tuesday! Last time on eco-friendly Tuesdays we chatted with Chef Charlie Ayers the first head chef at Google about fighting food waste. This week we're talking about reusable bags. 

We've talked about reusable water bottles, we've talked about napkins, we've even talked about handkerchiefs. Almost every key reusable item has gotten a dedicated post except for the reusable bag. And, today we're talking about the coolest reusable bags - BagPodz.

For Christmas, my mom bought me BagPodz. I called and thanked her for the thoughtful gift, but I felt like I had way too many reusable bags to begin with. Being a minimalist and already having an entire drawer dedicated to too many reusable bags; it felt like a silly present. 

She told me to try them. So, I did - and holy guacamole - Life. Changing. 

My zero waste journey started out with just some checkout stand reusable bags I picked up at Trader Joe's along they way. And, while they worked, they weren't very sturdy. Definitely not for long term heavy duty use. 

Reusable bags made easy plus 3 tips to help you remember to bring them with you to the store from

I decided it was time to buy myself an adult set. I bought a set of canvas bags on Amazon, and I hated them. Every time I used them I would be so angry. They weren't sewn well, and they cost way too much money. They were falling apart, but I was determined to live with them because - reuse! 

If this sounds like a familiar story, I'm here to tell you it's ok! Sometimes you do things with the best of intentions, and sometimes they just don't work out. 

Thankfully, my mom saved the day. Enter BagPodz.

Reusable bags made easy plus 3 tips to help you remember to bring them with you to the store from

You may have heard me chatting about them on a podcast with Matt Prindle earlier this year. After that podcast, we got in touch! I'm telling you - everywhere I go people ask me where they can get them. I love talking about products I love! Especially ones that have revolutionized zero waste. 

They started making these bags after the bag ban passed in Austin. People were complaining that it was difficult to remember to bring their reusable bags to the store. Common complaints included: mismatched, bulky, never bringing enough, and difficult to fold bags. 

The geniuses at BagPodz found an easy way to address everyone's concerns with this little pod system. You can unzip the side of the pod to pull the bags out at check out. After you get home, use the carabiner to clip it onto a hook or door handle. You can let the drawstring out and then shove all of the bags back into the pod. 

It's this perfect little compact tool that I keep in the car. BagPodz and snapware revolutionized zero waste for Justin. They were lightbulb moments for him. He even said, "Zero waste makes so much more sense to me now." Now, He's more than happy to tote reusable bags into the store. 

I am all for any product that can help people to remember to actually bring their bags! 

Tips to Remembering Your Reusable Bags

1. My number one tip for anyone who forgets to bring their bags is to turn around! You get to the store and you don't have your bags TURN. AROUND. Seriously. You go back once to get the bags, I can almost guarantee you won't forget again. 

2. Clip them on your keys. After I unload my groceries I clip the bags onto my keys to remember to take them back out to my car. 

3. Eventually you get in the habit of creating a little checklist before you leave the house. I always ask myself phone, wallet, keys, water, bag - something to that effect so I'm always prepared! 

I hate plastic bags, and hope people will remember not only to bring reusable bags but also reusable produce bags! You can cut out so much waste just by remembering to bring reusable bags and a reusable water bottle. 

Plus, now I have an empty drawer where my reusable bags used to be. When you live in an 800 sq. ft. house every ounce of space becomes precious. 

What's your bag routine? How do you remember your reusable bags? 

Fighting Food Waste with Chef Charlie Ayers

Welcome to our very first "Eco Friendly Tuesdays!" You'll still be getting two posts a week, Thursdays and Saturdays, that talk about DIYs, lifestyle, and recipes. But, I've set aside Tuesday to talk about the movers and shakers, current events, and just cool stuff! If there's anything you think I should know about feel free to send me a message

Learn about food waste with Charlie Ayers the head chef at Google and now his own restaurant Califia Cafe with

I had the pleasure of chatting with Chef Charlie Ayers. He was the very first chef at google and helped found the free, healthy food environment that makes silicon valley the envy of the world.

By the time he left, he was head chef of the 10 cafes on campus and serving 4,000 lunches and dinners a day. My personal conclusion: he's the reason Google is so successful - 'grammers can't 'gram on an empty stomach. 

In 2009, he opened is own restaurant, Califia Cafe in Palo Alto, which focuses on local, organic, and healthy food. It offers a huge vegetarian and vegan selection. And Steve Jobs just happened to eat there every day. NBD.

And, in his free time he does really lame stuff like cater for the Grateful Dead and write books like, "Food 2.0: Secrets from the Chef who Fed Google."

And, by lame - I mean awesome. Charlie was way ahead of the curve on zero waste and going organic. He offers all of his tips in colorful pages with easy to follow and very digestible (food pun: totally intended) tips, tricks, and recipes.

He offers a lot of advice on how to eat fast and healthy all while trying to reduce food waste. Also tons of insightful information about going organic and what that really means. I highly, highly recommend it. 

Learn about food waste with Charlie Ayers the head chef at Google and now his own restaurant Califia Cafe with

Q: When did you first move from conventional to organic? 

A: It took place in the early 90's catering backstage at a music festival in Golden Gate Park. I met the founder of Muir Glen Organic canned tomatoes, and it changed the way I thought about food. After a conversation we had, over the simplest way to explain to someone, why eating organic foods are better for you and the reason why you should spend the few extra bucks. It's about the elimination of fossil fuels from your diet. There are nasty pesticides derived from petroleum and you don't want to put that into your body. After that conversation, I embraced organic food from then on. 

Q: Even food that is pesticide-free, isn't totally organic? 

A: That's right. They may use synthetic fertilizers which is bad for the local environment, the soil, and for you. Eating truly organic means the soil is clean for the water and food that you're putting on your table. 

Q: So, how do you know if it's clean? 

A: Don't be afraid to ask questions when you go to the local farmers market. Don't be embarrassed to ask. When it comes to packaged goods, read the labels. The ingredients at the top of the list are the ones that are most plentiful in the product.

For Juices this means making sure it's fresh! When shopping for beef or dairy, look for grass fed. For oils, look for cold-pressed and unrefined. The bottom line, when you are at the farmers market, a restaurant, or a grocery store - ask them questions and build a relationship.

Q: Building relationships is so important. It's one of my favorite aspects of living a zero waste lifestyle. It's getting to know people; putting a face to all of the items in my life. It helps foster a story which leads to repairing and caring - it leads to sustainability. So, what questions should we be asking about our food? 

A: Ask the following:

  • Where was this grown?
  • Was it treated with pesticides?
  • When did this shipment arrive?
  • What's in season?
  • What's the best product you have right now?
  • What pairs with what you happen to be cooking on a particular evening.

Q: How do you combat food waste in your restaurant? 

A: I serve smaller portions than the neighboring restaurant. We cross utilize a crazy amount at Califia Cafe. For example, we use our salmon scrap for salmon burgers, salmon salad melts, and salmon corn chowder (it's a spicy red chowder). All of our beef butchering of steaks, short ribs, beef tenderloins and rib eye are ground in a special burger blend we call the four-star burger. 90% of leftover bread is made into either breadcrumbs or croutons for the market salad bar. Day old bagels are made into chips, cookies are cut into smaller pieces and folded into a cheesecake or turned in the crust for the cheesecake. 

Q: What's your favorite way to use food scraps?

A: There are a number of ways we use food scraps at Calafia Cafe. One thing I like to do is peel my broccoli stems and roast them for my broccoli zucchini pizza. We also fry the asparagus peels and use it as a garnish with a poached egg and asparagus dish. The tiny green leaves beneath the heads of cauliflower make a great garnish on my cauliflower soup. We also trade with a local farmer with product from our juice bar. When blanched lightly, all the vegetable bi-product from our juice bar goes to the farmer, who gives us eggs in exchange.

Q: I know you have a market for on the go, can people bring their own container to be zero waste? 

A: Yes. We have people who come in and bring their own to-go containers. It's something I'm always supportive of because my goal is to always find ways to reduce waste.

Cue the internal fireworks. This is the future! 

Q: One, last question: what's your favorite dish you make? 

A: I love to cook and am always creating new dishes but there are a number of old favorites on the menus too. One of the most popular items is an Asian inspired dish called, Mahogany Salmon. It's a dish I developed for a family I cooked privately for before going to Google. I still make it today. It was hugely popular when I was cooking at Google and I still have Googlers come in for the Mahogany Salmon to this day! 

I had so much chatting with Chef Charlie Ayers. It's fascinating hearing about food waste from a business stand point versus a home kitchen. If you are in the area, I highly recommend you check out his restaurant. If you're not, you can grab a copy of his book "Food 2.0," but I realized I forgot to ask the most important question! 

Q: Chef Charlie, when are you going to cook for me!? 

Calafia Cafe855 El Camino Real #130, Palo Alto, CA 94301