Photo: A collection of reusable utensils, straws, and household goods

Climate change and plastic pollution are catastrophic problems that seem overwhelming. Can ordinary people actually do anything to make a significant impact? Yes! There are simple sustainable swaps that really make a difference in our environmental and future well-being.

Our stores are focused on sustainability by providing information and inspiration—all of us can make a difference with easy shifts in our daily lives. Join us in making real change and a real positive impact, one simple sustainable swap at a time.

DTE Recipes

See our Collection of Delicious Plant-Based Recipes

Eat More Plants!

Since 1977, Down to Earth has been talking about the environmental and health benefits of "going veggie". Eating a plant-based diet is one of the most significant factors to reduce our individual negative impact on the earth and climate. If you're not ready to switch, even switching out one meal a day to be completely plant-based has a huge impact too!

To Go Ware Bamboo Travel Utensils Black Set

Bring your own utensils when eating out

Plastic cutlery is a $2.6 billion business because of a proliferation of our modern “disposable culture”. But convenience has come at a cost. Like many plastic items, utensils often find their way into the environment. According to beach-cleanup data compiled by the non-profit 5 Gyres, utensils are the seventh most commonly collected plastic item. An easy solution that just takes some mental adjustment is to simply bring your own reusable silverware when you are away from home and refuse to use plastic utensils. Here are some of our favorites.

The Story of Plastic Utensils

Story of Plastic Utensils - Long Description (Opens in anew window)

Skip the straws, or switch to an alternative straw.

Read some helpful info on the problem with plastic straws and the many alternatives that are available.

Produce Bags

Bring your own produce bags

Since the 1950s, approximately 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide and only 9% of that has been recycled. The Zero-Waste Chef has an easy tutorial on how to make your own reusable, cloth produce bags or just grab whatever clean bags you have around the house.

  • Every minute, the equivalent of a truckload of plastic enters our oceans.
  • If we do not drastically reduce our plastic consumption, by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight.
  • Because China will no longer accept our plastic waste (and why should it?), by 2030, the world will need to bury or recycle an estimated 111 million metric tons of the stuff.
  • Micro-plastics are in our water, our air, our fish and even human stool.

Photo: Food Scraps for composting

Reduce food waste

The U.S. wastes up to 40% of its food supply each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A report from the sustainability-focused World Resources Institute says food waste is responsible for 8% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, and that 25% of agricultural water use and a land mass the size of China go toward producing food that ultimately is uneaten. See our tips on how to reduce food waste like making a list and sticking with it, making sure the food you buy serves multiple purposes and more.

Our Down to Earth stores donate day-old deli foods instead of throwing it out to Aloha Harvest. Founded in 1999, Aloha Harvest is the sole food rescue organization in the state. Their mission is to “rescue and deliver quality, excess food to help feed the needy, hungry, and homeless in Hawaiʻi”. Aloha Harvest picks up excess foods from our Oahu locations several times a week to share with local charities. Our produce waste at several of our stores is also donated to local animal sanctuaries and to farmers for compost.

Footnotes: 

Ducharme, Jamie. Time (website) “Food Waste Is a Huge Environmental Problem. Here Are 5 Ways to Reduce Yours”, September 3, 2019. https://time.com/5663306/how-to-reduce-food-waste/(link is external)
Root, Tik. National Geographic (website),“Why carrying your own fork and spoon helps solve the plastic crisis”, June 28, 2019 https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/06/carrying-your-own...(link is external)