Recipes for a Cleaner, Greener Lifestyle


Recipes for a Cleaner, Greener Lifestyle:

A Hudson Valley Resident’s Guide to Practicing Everyday Sustainability

Written by Julia Farawell
Published by Sustainable Hudson Valley
With help from Vanessa Bertozzi, Dorna Schroeter and Melissa Everett
1. Action: Buy once– switch to reusable items.

Why it matters:

Roughly 13 billion plastic bottles are disposed of each year. It takes 450 years for a plastic bottle to break down. Many communities and states are deciding to phase out single use, disposable plastics.  

Looking for the best reusable products to replace your traditional plastic items at home? Take advantage of what the Internet has to offer, by searching for reviews from real people. Photo courtesy of Mostly Amelie

How to make it happen: 

You can redesign your life to get off disposables, one step at a time. We recommend replacing your disposable items with the following plastic-free items: 

  • A bar of shampoo, a bar of conditioner
  • A steel razor
  • A reusable water bottle
  • A reusable thermos for hot beverages
  • Reusable shopping bags
  • 100% compostable toothbrushes 
  • Eco-friendly floss in a refillable container
  • Sustainable food storage options (mason jars, washable and durable to-go containers, Beeswax wraps as an alternative to plastic wraps and plastic storage bags) 
  • Refillable cosmetics (try Lush refillable mascara and refillable lipstick cases) 
  • Skincare essentials that come in glass jars,
  • Steel straws (and don’t forget the pipe cleaner tool to clean them!) 
  • Bamboo or metal reusable to-go cutlery 
  • Wooden/bamboo hairbrush


Reducing plastic waste altogether should be the ultimate goal. You can achieve this through slow transitioning, so it’s not a shock to your daily routine. Promise yourself to switch your plastic razor to a steel razor one week. Then, switch your plastic toothbrush to a compostable toothbrush the next week. Continue this at the best pace for your lifestyle and wallet. 

2. Action: Join the Repair Cafe movement.

Why it matters:

It takes a surprising amount of energy to make and move stuff, and to transport and recycle waste. Changing our throw-away culture is one of the fastest, easiest ways to reduce our footprint. Fixing stuff is a creative way to take back control of your spending and your material life. 

The Repair Cafe is a social innovation where neighbors help each other to fix broken items of all kinds in a fun environment.

The Repair Cafe movement is intended to be as personally liberating as it is useful. All too often, we don’t give second thought to throwing out items we consider “unusable.” Less than a century ago, throwing out broken items wasn’t a popular option. Our culture is dependent on “fast fashion” and not only with clothing, but electronic goods and much more. Before disposing of an item, bring it to your local Repair Cafe. Chances are, the item can be salvaged and given a second life. Photo courtesy of the New York Times. 

How to make it happen: 

  1. Connect with local Repair Cafe chapters via social media or website.
  2. Gather items in your home and work spaces that need repair
  3. Save the date of a local Repair Cafe event. Repair Cafe Hudson Valley’s website has a calendar of upcoming events.
  4. Bring your broken and beloved items to the Repair Cafe to be fixed.
  5. Learn from the masters at these events how to fix your items in the future. Consider helping others fix their items by lending your expertise and volunteering as a “repair coach” in the future.


Before throwing items away at home, consider if they can be fixed. Most items that we donate or toss in the garbage could be repaired and brought back to working condition. This goes for electronics, furniture, clothing, kitchen tools, and decor. Put fixable items aside to be brought to a Repair Cafe. 

John Wackman, the founder of the Hudson Valley Repair Cafe Movement, published a book showcasing global Repair Cafe case studies. This book was published around the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, in April 2020. Follow Hudson Valley Repair Cafe for updates.

3. Action: Recycle more than you thought you could.

Why it matters:

Many people buy products that come with parts that require special recycling. The process of recycling specialty items isn’t common knowledge. Specialty items include Brita filters, hearing aid batteries, watch batteries, coffee creamer capsules (and K-cups), wine corks, and more. Often times, municipal facilities will not accept these specialty items at their recycling centers. Tossing these items feeds landfills. But there are many services that can help – and doing your homework makes you an expert for all your friends and neighbors. 


So many household-recognized brands have free recycling programs for consumers to use. Sometimes you are required to pay for shipping costs, but knowing your used packaging will be recycled directly by its creators is worth every penny. Photo courtesy of Terracycle. 

How to make it happen: 

  1. Stop yourself before throwing ANY item in the garbage
  2. Ask yourself if you know if the item is recyclable
  3. If the answer is Yes, then recycle it properly
  4. Utilize Terracycle’s Free Recycling Program to find a recycling program that best suits your needs for specialty items you’re unsure of how to recycle. 
  5. If you are a homeowner, apartment complex manager, business, or municipal facility install Terracycle recycling stations on your premises for residents, neighbors, and locals to use!
  6. Check out The Ozone in Red Hook for reusable items and recycling items your local recycling center may not accept. 


These businesses have FREE recycling programs for their products (which can be researched further using Terracycle’s Free Recycling Program directory): Burt’s Bees, Brita, Bausch + Lomb contacts, Beech-nut Baby products, Arm & Hammer pouches, Barilla Ready Pasta pouches, Colgate, Honest Kids drink pouches, Entenmann’s Little Bites pouches, EOS skincare, Febreze canisters, Gillette plastic razors, Hasbro plastic toys, Herbal Essence, Late July snacks, PepsiCo, Tide, Tom’s health products, Vans shoes, Wellness pet food containers, and more.  

Often times, it is second nature for us to simply dispose of whatever we no longer see as usable. But, many of our everyday household items can be recycled. 

4. Action: Grow a pollinator-friendly garden.

Why it matters:

Bees and other pollinators are essential to the health and balance of our ecosystem. Excessive use of pesticides have caused bee populations to shrink in the last decade. Almost all flowering plants on Earth are dependent on pollinators to keep their species alive. Animals need pollinators to exist because bees keep food supplies and habitats alive for living beings to use. Humans need bees to pollinate their food crops, too. It is estimated that nearly one-third of food consumed by Americans relies on natural bee pollination in the growing process (


SUNY New Paltz earned their “Bee Campus USA Certification” in 2019. Photo courtesy of SUNY New Paltz News. 

How to make it happen: 

Consider what humans need to survive: food, shelter and a non-toxic environment. This is what bees need to survive. By using pesticides and disrupting bee pollination process and habitats through overly manicuring our gardens, compromise their food and shelter.  The same is true for beetles and butterflies, which can also be pollinators.  Whether it is tiny or large, your property can be designed for pollinator friendliness even with small plantings and non-intrusive practices. 

  1. Incorporate native plants into your landscape
  2. Plant seasonal bloom varieties that keep going from spring through fall
  3. Seriously avoid pesticides 
  4. Leave seed heads on plants until the end of the season. Do not manicure the garden in ways that would disrupt the pollinators doing their job 
  5. Leave some bare ground (avoid using heavy mulches because many bee species burrow into the ground)


Learn what it takes to grow a few things at a time rather than going crazy.  

Many hardy perennial plants — like bee balm — are easy to start with. Some pollinator friendly options have fabulous human benefits — like berry bushes!


USDA Native Plants for Pollinators

Xerces Society:

5. Action: Compost at home and work

Why it matters:

Food waste that decomposes in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. By decomposing food waste in a personal composting system, we avoid creating that methane.  And can recycle our food scraps by using the compost to fertilize gardens, or just return nutrient rich soil to the earth by putting it in a field or forrest. The Hudson Valley is full of programs and organizations that make it easy to donate our compost to local farms and community gardens, too. 


There are several methods. Choose the best one for your lifestyle or the current season: Basic composting, winter composting, and stealth composting for apartment complexes.

Cornell Cooperative Extension teaches individuals from all walks of life about the importance (and fun) of composting. Photo courtesy of Dutchess County Cornell Cooperative Extension.


How to make it happen: 

Basic composting for beginners: 

  1. Store “browns” (leaves, yard trimmings) and “greens” (food scraps — but NO meats, fats or bones as these attract critters. Egg shells are acceptable!)
  2. Encourage microbes (this happens by continuing to add food scraps, plant cuttings, and occasional manure if you have it available)
  3. Allow fresh air to flow through the pile (mix the compost periodically to add more air flow)
  4. Don’t let the compost get too dry (add water periodically, as needed)
  5. Be patient (compost is not ready if it smells or looks like rotting vegetables. Wait until it looks more like enriched, dark dirt or mulch to add it to your garden — a wonderful moment). 

Winter composting: Remember that the decomposition process slows down in colder temperatures, but microbes stay alive all year long in well-maintained compost.

  1. Collect fall yard waste (leaves, brush, and other yard trimmings) to add to your compost during the winter months.
  2. Collect paper straws, newspaper, compostable bamboo products, and food scraps to add in.
  3. Create a “windbreak” with a tarp for extra protective insulation.
  4. For outside compost bins, utilize a “pre-compost” bucket to save yourself trips into the wintery outdoor weather. Being that you’ll keep this “pre-compost” bucket indoors, you’ll want to layer it with extra “browns” to keep the smell of the food scraps inside the container. Another option is putting the compost bucket in your freezer. Putting compost containers in your freezer also help cut down on fruit flies in warmer weather. 
  5. Since colder temperatures slow down the decomposition process, you can cut your food scraps into smaller pieces to speed up the composting process.

Stealth composting: 

  1. Use a garbage can or small bucket with a lid.
  2. Place the container near a door, in a garage, or in your kitchen.
  3. Place a smaller container inside the outer container.
  4. Punch holes in the bottom of the smaller container.
  5. Line and insulate the bottoms of the larger and smaller containers with wood ships, sawdust, and/or shredded paper products.
  6. Only put food scraps and other compostables in the smaller container.
  7. Punch holes in the lid of the larger container or leave the lid slightly ajar to allow for air flow
  8. Once the container is full, it will probably still need to continue decomposing. Start a new stealth composting bin to allow the full container to fully breakdown.
  9. Don’t forget to water the compost if it gets dry.
  10. When the full compost settles and “shrinks” in size, move the container outdoors with the lid ajar to let rain and wind inside the container to “cure” it. 



Many people wait to add their thick compost to gardens in the fall season, so it enriches their soil during the winter months and is decomposed and organically worked into the soil by the spring growing season.

For outdoor composting, you have a choice. You can create a pile in an out-of-the-way place and turn it regularly, or you can get an affordable container like the Earth Machine, which is made of recycled plastic.  For an even cheaper option, get a large plastic garbage can and punch holes in the top and bottom. 

6. Action: Lower your carbon footprint with a plant-rich diet

There’s no need to be an absolute vegetarian or vegan, just to shift your focus from animals to plants as the main source of protein in your diet. A meat-centric diet contributes to about one-fifth of global emissions, whereas “plant-rich diets reduce emissions and also tend to be healthier, leading to lower rates of chronic disease” (Project Drawdown, Food: Plant-Rich Diet). 

Why it matters:

Animal agriculture is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions as well as water pollution, especially when it is conducted at industrial scale.  And if  you are trying to live a more compassionate life, you may prefer to love animals more and eat them less.  

Eating a plant-rich diet provides our palettes and bodies with rich flavors and tons of protein. The healthiest and most flavorful meals are colorful. Strive to make your plate look like the rainbow. Photo courtesy of Hudson Valley Vegans. 

How to make it happen: 

  1. Commit to eating less meat. If you normally eat meat with every meal, try eating one meatless meal a day. Bump that up to two meatless meals or more, as you feel ready. Treat the process like a transition and not an overnight life change. 
  2. Commit to eating fewer animal dairy products. Eggs, milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt are the most common dairy products sourced from animals. Many recipes call for the use of these products. But there are tons of alternatives; especially for milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt. Alternatives to eggs exist and vary depending on the recipe they are being used for. For example, tofu with nutritional yeast or turmeric works as a delicious alternative to scrambled eggs. When baking, applesauce, mashed bananas, or arrowroot powder can be used to replace eggs.
  3. Research vegetarian and vegan versions of your favorite recipes. Vegetable-based meat replacements or increased portions of vegetables and grains are good ways to reshape traditional meat recipes — and they taste good.  
  4. Favor whole, unprocessed foods, for your own health and a reduced energy footprint. 
  5. Reduce “food miles” from farm to table by eating local whenever possible.
  6. Partake in “Meatless Mondays” and other veggie-friendly specials at local restaurants. Many restaurants offer discounted vegetarian or vegan meals, letting you sample and learn what you like.


Start whenever you can, but the sooner the better.  

For beginners, start by taking animal products off your plate one or two meals at a time. Being vegetarian first is often easier for most folks. Let your diet evolve and find a balance that is comfortable for you.

Engage in Meatless Mondays, which many restaurants in the Hudson Valley celebrate weekly; this can also be done as an online program that gives you regular reminders, recipes and messages of support. 


Hudson Valley Magazine, A Vegetarian’s Guide to the Hudson Valley

Hudson Valley Vegans:

7. Action: Shop local and small – and whenever possible buy groceries from farmers

Why it matters:

Although big-box supermarkets are convenient, they are energy-intensive and many of their products are shipped from afar. Non-seasonal and non-local varieties of produce are transported from other states and countries. This constant, international transportation of goods produces substantial greenhouse gas emissions. 

The refrigeration used in corporate food stores annually leaks about 25% of the refrigerant materials they contain (such as Freon) — which are more potent greenhouse gases than CO2. These refrigerant leaks cause a standard U.S. supermarket to have an annual carbon footprint equal to 333 American cars. 

Shopping from local farms and farmer’s markets is the most sustainable food-shopping option.

Farmers markets feature food that is local, in-season, and often mostly plant-based. If we limited our food consumption to local and in-season foods, we could dramatically alter greenhouse gas emissions related to food transportation and commercial food waste. We would also be keeping our spending dollars in our local economy, rather than cycling through corporate entities. Photo courtesy of Pin IMG

How to make it happen:

  1. Visit the USDA’s “Local Food Directory Listings” 
  2. Choose from the following kinds of directories to find local food: Farmer’s Markets, Community Shared Agriculture (CSAs), and On-Farm Markets
  3. Make commitments to yourself to either attend a local farmer’s market (weekly or monthly) or join a CSA (seasonally or yearly)
  4. Plan ahead by taking inventory of what you have and what you need for cooking each week/month
  5. Research recipes that specifically use local, seasonal produce before shopping/receiving your CSA share


Familiarize yourself with produce that can grow in the climate you live in and incorporate that produce into recipes you enjoy.

Plan diet and shopping overall to minimize supermarket runs. 


Columbia County Farmer’s Markets

Hudson Valley Farmer’s Markets or farm CSA near you

Local USDA directory

8. Action: Create a Food Waste Reduction strategy for yourself, your workplace and the groups you are part of

Why it matters:

It is estimated that 11% of greenhouse gas emissions that come from the food system could be reduced if we stop wasting food.

Donating food to shelters and soup kitchens not only stops traditional commercial food waste from contributing to further methane emissions; it also provides a healthy meal to individuals who are vulnerable to malnutrition due to their socioeconomic positions. Photo courtesy of Cloud Front.

How to make it happen:

  1. Look around you and take note of the amount of food that is wasted in your home, office, restaurant, child’s school, or party.
  2. At home, buy only what you need. Try to buy food with less- or no packaging. Cooking with staple foods provides you with leftovers that can be used in future meals. is a website that provides recipes specifically for leftover food scraps.
  3. For work or the office, bring in cooked meals from home. The more you purchase fast food and meals during your lunch break, the more materials go to waste. Plan and prep meals when you can.
  4. Put a compost bin in your home or office. Bring a portable compost bin to a party. There are several Hudson Valley composting services that will bring your compost to farms: Community Composting Company, Compost Valley, and more. 
  5. If you own, or work at, an organization with an on-site food service, sign up to become a food donor with Feed Hudson Valley. If you work for a business that hosts catered events, you can sign up to be an occasional food donor. Volunteers with Feed HV will pick up the food from your location and bring it to a local shelter.


Larry Anthony, the Food Director at Rhinebeck School District, has partnered Rhinebeck’s public schools with Feed Hudson Valley to be a food donor to shelters in Dutchess county. Consider contacting your local school district to do the same. 

If you can bike or use an EV to transport leftover food to shelters, you have the added bonus of not contributing to greenhouse gas emissions!


Feed Hudson Valley Website:

Save the Food:

9. Action: Use solar to power your home.

Why it matters:

Our homes use fossil fuel daily each time we turn on the lights or power our devices with electricity.  Solar power is renewable energy.  By utilizing the power of sunlight, solar energy does not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions or pollution.

Even if you reside in a building that is shared by many residents, you can invest in solar through a community program. Often times, community solar programs make the costs of solar energy more affordable. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy. 


How to make it happen:

  1. Consult a solar professional to understand if your home is suitable for rooftop solar, on-site solar, or community off-site solar options. If your home’s roof is covered by tree shade, you should consider alternative on-site solar options. If you do not own your home, you can still participate in community on- or off-site solar programs.  Stay tuned for the upcoming announcement on how Austerlitz residents will soon be able to switch to solar with an Austerlitz Town Board vetted, locally operated solar array you can opt to buy your electricity from.
  2. If you’re a homeowner, find a local company to install your solar panels. If you are not a homeowner, consider using EnergySage’s Community Solar Marketplace to find local community solar programs
  3. Install solar energy at your home and save up to thousands of dollars per year on your energy bill.



For safety and to get a permit, you need to use the services of licensed solar professionals. Many solar providers offer payment plans, with different forms of financing: cash, lease, and loans. 


Consult the Clean Power Guide for guidance and tips.


If you are not able to put solar panels on your roof due to shading, orientation or because you don’t own the building, look into community solar which lets you subscribe to a facility in your area.  



Sustainable Hudson Valley:

NYSERDA-approved contractors in the Hudson Valley

10. Action: Ditch your fossil powered heating and cooling system in favor of electric heat pumps that can be renewably powered.

Below the frostline, there is a constant temperature ranging from 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Rather than burning natural oil to heat our homes, consider switching to a geothermal heat pump. These heat pumps use renewable energy directly from the Earth to move hot and cold air into your building year-round. Photo courtesy of Clean Technica. 

Why it matters:

25% of the average home’s energy load is from heating and cooling.  Air source and ground source heat pumps, and heat pump water heaters, are more efficient than conventional technologies and more versatile: heat pumps heat, cool and dehumidify as well.

How to make it happen:

  1. Research which type of heat pump would be right for your home: air or ground-source heat pump
  2. Understand the inner workings of your home. Does your home’s heating and cooling involve ducts, or is it ductless?
  3. Contact local heat pump providers to get an estimate of cost. Attend a local HeatSmart event to become connected with the best providers and technicians (see Tips for more info). 
  4. Look into getting federal and state rebates on your heat pump. Currently, there’s a 30% geothermal tax credit and NYS tax rebate of $1,200-$1,500 per ton.
  5. Install your heat pump and save over $1,500 per year on your heating and cooling bills. 


HeatSmart provides consumers with access to energy consultants to walk homeowners through the process of installing heat pumps. To stay updated on HeatSmart informational events happening near you, check the SHV calendar of events.




HeatSmart Capital Region

11. Action: Trade your fuel car in for an electric vehicle.

Why it matters:

Transportation is the largest segment of the Hudson Valley’s greenhouse gas emissions. While train, bus and bike travel can make a difference, our lives are built around travel patterns that depend on the car.  Electric vehicles are sophisticated, quiet, safe, fun to drive and less expensive to operate.  Today’s all-electric vehicles typically have a range of 200 – 300 miles on a charge, and a plug-in hybrid option lets you use gas for longer trips. There are over 40 makes and models of EVs on the market today. 

Electric vehicles provide the possibility of driving a zero emissions car. If your charge comes from renewable energy sources, like solar or wind energy, then you can be sure that you are not contributing to fossil fuel emissions during each trip. Photo courtesy of Herald Net. 

How to make it happen:

  1. Research the different makes and models available at local dealerships. Consider which EV suits your needs and is comfortable on your wallet.
  2. Test drive an EV at a dealership or a local sustainability event. You can learn about upcoming EV events and Clean Power Expos by checking the SHV website calendar.
  3. Research where charging stations are available in your local area (through apps like PlugShare and ChargeHub–see below).  (There is a charger located in the Austerlitz Town Hall parking lot.) If you commute a distance to work each day, understand where the most convenient charging stations are located along your route.
  4. Understand the benefits and costs of installing a charging station at home. Most EV’s require Level Two chargers for home stations.
  5. Purchase an EV and save on fuel costs and maintenance fees for years to come.


PlugShare and ChargeHub are apps that help you identify local charging stations.


Drive Electric Hudson Valley

Drive Electric HV on Facebook

12. Action: Register your town as a Climate Smart Community or Join your town’s existing Climate Smart Communities Task Force.

Why it matters:

“Members of the Climate Smart Communities program are a network of New York communities engaged in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improving climate resilience. The program provides guidance to local governments on best practices for mitigating and adapting to climate change.” – NYS DEC. Today, over 8 million people are living in Climate Smart Communities.


Click here for more information about how to join Austerlitz’s CSC Task Force.

How to make it happen: 

  1. Pass a resolution to become a Registered Climate Smart Community (CSC) 
  2. Register your community after the resolution is adopted 
  3. Select “actions.” Once you are a registered CSC, you can implement chosen actions on your own. Begin with the Mandatory and Priority actions, such as Creating a CSC Task Force, Assigning a CSC Coordinator, Creating a Government Operations Climate Action Plan, and more actions that can be found on the CSC website.
  4. Collect documentation after selecting your actions. Each action requires documentation for your community to become certified. 
  5. Submit your application. If your community does not meet requirements to become certified, CSC staff will coach you on how to become certified. 



It takes time for everything to get set in place. This can be a big undertaking for communities, but it is also one of the most important choices NYS communities can make. Be patient and know that great things take time. 



The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of Climate Change

13. Action: Join group efforts to become civically engaged about environmental priorities.

Why it matters:

Legislation is a powerful tool to establish the behaviors we need for a healthy environment, as the recently passed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act shows. There are many local groups and organizations that utilize volunteer power to educate the public about legislation and urge legislators to pass specific bills — or run candidates who will implement a better platform. 

In the fall of 2019, New York State passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The CLCPA is the most comprehensive piece of environmental legislation ever passed by a state in the U.S. Jen Metzger, a Senator representing counties in the Hudson Valley, collaborated on the CLCPA. Photo courtesy of The River News Room.


How to make it happen:

  1. Visit to search for pending bills in NYS.
  2. Research and familiarize yourself with bills that are currently undergoing consideration by NYS legislators. 
  3. Research local and state elections. Familiarize yourself with the candidates running in the elections.
  4. Share information about pending bills you support on social media. Share information on upcoming elections on social media. 
  5. Join a local environmental policy activism group (See Tips for more information). Many of them have introductory videos and introductory materials online to help you become comfortable with their processes. These groups often host events to educate the public. Many of the groups participate in lobbying days in Albany, too.
  6. Attend meet-and-greet events to speak to candidates about their policies in person.
  7. Urge friends to write letters and call their local legislators. Ask these legislators if you can count on them to vote in favor of passing the bill. 
  8. Throw a phone-banking or letter-writing party for neighbors, friends, and colleagues to urge others to support these bills or candidates. If you decide to join a local group, offer to host an event in your local community. 
  9. Vote in elections
  10. Follow-up with legislators after bills pass or fail. Thank them for their support.



Citizens Climate Lobby

Hudson Valley Green Drinks: 

  • Email:
  • Facebook: @HudsonValleyGreenDrinks

New York Renews

  • Website:
  • Facebook: @NYRenews

Mid-Hudson Sunrise (Youth group): 

  • Facebook: @MidHudsonSunrise
  • Instagram: @Sunrise.MidHudsonValley

Mothers Out Front (Mothers, Grandmothers and Caregivers Against Climate Change)