How having her daughter turned this TV star mom into a food waste warrior.

"Orange is the New Black" actress Alysia Reiner is learning a lot about sustainability from her daughter, Liv, but Reiner's move towards a greener lifestyle actually began way before Liv was born.

Reiner was in elementary school when she first learned about Earth Day and why it's so important to protect the planet. She decided then and there to make her daily habits more environmentally-friendly.

From then on, that eco-consciousness was always a part of her life. And, ever since becoming a mom, she’s been an advocate for healthy and sustainable living.


"When I was getting ready to be pregnant, I became more conscious of every iota that was going into my body," Reiner explains.

This meant making better choices about what she was eating.

All photos via Upworthy/SaveTheFood.

"When you have a small human, you become more excited about eating a rainbow," Reiner says in reference to eating a wider spectrum of natural, healthy foods.

But she wasn’t just thinking more about her eating habits, she also became super conscious of the food she was throwing away.

Believe it or not, food waste is the single largest contributor to landfills in the United States today. And it’s not just taking up space there — when food decomposes it releases methane gas, a form of climate pollution that is up to 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

But the damage wasted food enacts on the environment is only part of why it’s an unfortunate habit. When we throw away food, we’re literally throwing away money — 218 billion dollars-worth to be exact in the US alone.

Once Reiner learned all these harrowing statistics about food waste, she jumped into action.

She and her family joined their local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group, which helps connect them with the local farmers in their community. She helped re-launch a green program at her daughter's school with another interested parent, and as a result, all the classrooms at her school have also started composting. In fact, according to Reiner, the school's decreased their waste output by 95%.

She also started doing "fridge raids" in her own home, where she turns leftovers and food that would otherwise be thrown away into delicious meals. Now, Reiner is starting to raid her friends’ refrigerators, starting with Melissa Rivers.

As you can see, with just a little direction, even the less cooking-inclined, like Melissa Rivers, can make something awesome out of food they’d otherwise just toss into the trash. Almost rotten tomatoes and herbs can become a delicious gazpacho, and that frozen pizza you forgot about can look like new with a little basil, parmesan and cooking spray.

“For someone like me who’s always ordering in or taking out — you’ve given it all a new life,” exclaims Rivers.

It’s no surprise that Save the Food — a campaign designed to help people learn how not to waste food — partnered with Reiner to turn her fridge raids into video PSAs/tutorials that teach just that.

Together, they’re spreading awareness about food waste and providing resources to help people make food waste-limiting practices a staple of home life.

Of course, Reiner implements the same food waste-limiting practices she teaches in her own home, and gets her husband and daughter involved, too.

For example, they’ve all gotten really good at incorporating almost every part of the foods they buy. In fact, her family regularly tries to figure out what meals they can create using only what's on hand. They also compost every day, and bring leftovers to their local church when they have them.

"When there are so many people on a daily basis who are food insecure, it feels disrespectful for me to then waste food," Reiner explains. "I've always been really aware of that. "

Ultimately, it’s about showing her daughter Liv how easy it is to make food-saving, and environmentalism, a part of her everyday. While they’re habits that everyone should develop, if parents encourage their kids early on, they’ll be more likely to stick with them into adulthood.

Reiner's advice for parents who want to get their families into food saving? Make it a game.

Photo via Rachel/Flickr.

Turn dinner-making into a "Chopped"-esque competition where the goal is to make use of everything, even the scraps. Or get the whole family involved in volunteering at a food bank or other place that helps feed the food insecure. Whatever you do, if you can show your kids that sustainability can be fun and easy, you're winning on so many levels.

"It’s my deepest hope that our next generation understands that climate change is a real thing," says Reiner about the impact of wasted food. "We all have to do what we can."

Most Shared
True
Ad Council - Food Waste

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture