Lean on Friends For Help Completing the Reduce Your Foodprint Challenge

by Katherine Sacks

Published: 1/12/22, Last updated: 1/12/22

Every January, the FoodPrint team takes on our Reduce Your Foodprint Challenge, a 4-week plan that offers suggestions for adopting more sustainable food practices and reducing foodprints. It includes actions like bringing along a tote bag, focusing on recipes that use stems and leaves, and giving up meat one day a week. By concentrating on these 28 daily tips, we start the new year fresh, recommitting to our goals to create less food waste and less trash, use less plastic and support local and sustainable food systems.

We’ve asked a few friends to join us in the challenge this year. Research shows that having an accountability partner makes us 65 percent more likely to reach our goals. We are lucky to have some great accountability partners joining us and sharing how they reduce their foodprints. Below we’ve included some of the tips from actress and activist Alysia Reiner, cookbook author Anne-Marie Bonneau, farmer and Harvest Queen co-founder Helena Sylvester, private chef and permaculture designer Mariana Lyra, and graphic designer and master crafter Sammara Khaja. Head to FoodPrint’s Instagram to see more.

Want to join in the Reduce Your Foodprint Challenge? Download the PDF of the 4-week plan and check off each activity as you work through the plan. You can join us now or start at day one; we’ve designed it in a 4-week structure so that anyone can start anytime they’d like. Suggest the challenge to your coworkers, classmates or friends; find your own crew to take on the four weeks.

Follow us on social media @foodprintorg to get more tips and information about the challenge, and let us know how you are doing by sharing your progress with the hashtag #ReduceYourFoodprint.

Eat Your Leftovers

Our first guest feature for the challenge is for day five, featuring the tip: “Cut down on food waste by eating everything you cook.” Actress, activist and food waste warrior Alysia Reiner offers two videos on our Instagram page showing how she turns leftovers like toppings from a bagel brunch or the last bits of things, like the final spoonfuls from a tomato sauce jar, into new meals.

Reiner learned an understanding of food waste prevention from her great grandmother, a tradition she is passing down to her daughter Liv. But instead of  Depression-era penny-pinching being the motivator, the former Food Network  “Chopped” celebrity challenger focuses on creativity. “Food waste breaks my heart,” she says. “The US wastes 30 to 40 percent of the food we buy (yes, it’s true)! But as someone done with the shame, blame and guilt game, I believe food use and being a food waste warrior should be fun! I love challenging myself to use all the odds and ends in my kitchen.”


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A post shared by FoodPrint (@foodprintorg)

Say No to Plastic

Week two focuses on reducing plastic use. For day 11, California farmer Helena Sylvester shares some of her farmers’ market photos, visualizing the Reduce Your Foodprint Challenge tip to “bring a reusable bag.” Her pretty straw and woven market bags are lovely, but even a simple tote will do. The FoodPrint team suggests you always have one stashed in your car or purse for an unplanned grocery store or market visit.

Sylvester co-founded the website Harvest Queen in 2020 to spotlight other female farmers (she’s half of the Happy Acre Farm team) and emphasize local, seasonal eating. She regularly posts beautiful farmers’ market produce images on her personal Instagram account and the Harvest Queen pages; some of our favorites include her gorgeous tomato photos, scenes from the farm and, of course, market haul snaps.

Harvest Queen also allows Sylvester to share her farmer insights, suggestions for conscientious shopping and ways to reduce your impact. “Things like shopping at farmers’ markets, supporting grocers and restaurants that support small farms and pay their employees’ fair wages, composting more, switching to reusable bags and containers, and taking a minute to sign legislation in support of farmworker legalization may seem small and trivial, but they have a bigger impact,” she says.


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A post shared by HARVEST QUEEN (@helloharvestqueen)

DIY Reusable Bowl Covers, Produce Bags and Totes

On day 12, FoodPrint’s graphic designer and resident crafter extraordinaire, Sammara Khaja, shares her wisdom about reducing plastic use. Khaja’s article on making bowl covers, produce bags and reusable snack bags from scrap materials outlines all the tools, materials and information you need to avoid the #plasticfreeshop ads on Instagram and create your items instead.

Grab scissors, sewing supplies and an old t-shirt or pillowcase and follow Khaja’s guidance. She also filmed a helpful video showcasing the bowl cover sewing technique, creating this adorable bowl cover with pom-poms and googly eyes.


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A post shared by FoodPrint (@foodprintorg)

Go Homemade

For day 14 of the Reduce Your FoodPrint Challenge, we’re asking followers to choose an industrially produced item they usually buy — salad dressing, granola, jerky, vegetable broth — and make it instead. Making your own allows you to control how much seasoning and salt is added and avoid unnecessary additives or packaging that might be unrecyclable. 

Lately, private chef and permaculture designer Mariana Lyra has been baking a lot of bread. In December 2021, she committed to cleaning out the pantry, “us[ing] up everything that has been sitting there for a while, before buying anything new,” including a variety of flours she bought during quarantine. Along with tips for baking sourdough, Lyra shares her sourdough recipe for day 14 on our Instagram.

If you’re a sourdough enthusiast, keep your kitchen waste-free with our tips and recipe suggestions for using sourdough discard.


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A post shared by Mariana Lyra | Urban Gardening (@marisgardenandkitchen)

Commit to Compost

We’ve been fans of cookbook author, blogger and zero-waste Instagram star Anne-Marie Bonneau for quite a while, including her in our favorite zero waste bloggers list and featuring her 2021 “The Zero-Waste Chef Cookbook” on FoodPrint. So we were happy that Bonneau offered to show off her composting bins, “something I’m basically obsessed with,” she says, for the Reduce Your Foodprint Challenge. 

The challenge’s tip for day 16 is to commit to compost, collecting scraps for municipal pick-up or a home bin. Bonneau’s video shows how she composts in three ways: a simple compost bin, pit composting and a hugelkultur (aka “the ultimate raised bed,” according to Bonneau). 

If you want additional help reducing your impact in January, Bonneau is currently running a newsletter series: 30 Days of Climate Action. Or head to our Take Action page, where we have additional guides and challenges to help you reduce your food waste, start growing your food or teach young people about foodprints.


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A post shared by Anne-Marie Bonneau (@zerowastechef)

Top photo by Monkey Business/ Adobe Stock.

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