Taking stock of how much plastic we use in our homes can be overwhelming. There are dish soap bottles, plastic bags, disposable cups, and sponges. So when it comes to living waste-free, where do you start?
That’s where the benefits of living in Omaha come in. Here, we have some of the best resources in the country when it comes to shopping local, recycling, co-op communities and so much more. In fact, WalletHub named us one of the greenest cities in America in 2019.
If you’re looking to delve into a more waste-free lifestyle, we rounded up some of our favorite green resources in Omaha, from our favorite eco-friendly shops and restaurants to composting services and landscapers.
Please note: Due to COVID-19, many of these local businesses may be closed and events may have been canceled. We recommend contacting them to see what their current hours and policies are before visiting.
Photo courtesy of Exist Green
This zero-waste market and eco-boutique is located in the heart of Dundee. Here, you can purchase everything from local produce and bulk non-perishables to eco-friendly beauty products and everything you need to lead a more green lifestyle like reusable straws, produce bags, jars and more! Because of their commitment to providing eco-friendly and local goods, their inventory is always changing. Make sure to follow them on Instagram to keep up with their current offerings.
Due to COVID-19, Exist Green is not allowing people on the food side of the store. You are welcome to explore the boutique side while wearing a mask while their helpful staff fills food orders for you.
Eat at Restaurants with Green Practices
When eating out, it can be hard to know exactly how much waste is being created by your meal. That’s why it’s important to choose restaurants that are committed to green practices like using local ingredients, recycling, composting and more. We have a great list of environmentally friendly businesses in Omaha. On there you’ll find local favorites The Grey Plume, Au Courant Regional Kitchen, Kitchen Table, Green Belly, and many more.
Shop at Thrift and Consignment Stores
One of the pinnacle rules of reducing waste is to reuse. And because the fashion industry creates more than 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, buying used clothes is one of the best things you can do to help out the planet. Plus, many times when you’re shopping at a thrift store, you’re actually helping to support a nonprofit—giving you the chance to help out several causes at once (and get some cute clothes while you’re at it!).
The Green Omaha Coalition promotes a greener Omaha through collaboration, education and advocacy. Not only do they put on several events in the area throughout the year, but they also help inform community decision-makers and voters on the importance of environmental sustainability. If you’re looking to become more involved or just want to learn more about how you can make a difference—follow the GOC on Facebook to keep up with upcoming events, educational blog posts and more.
If you live within the city of Omaha, you can pick up a free green recycling bin at one of these seven locations. Once you have your bin, you can start recycling everyday objects—and have them picked up right from your curb on your collection day. If you live in an apartment or a place where you don’t have regular trash pickup, you can take your objects to a local recycling center! You can find a list of the ones in the Omaha area here. And if you want to know how to recycle almost every item in your home, click here for a complete guide from Wasteline.
Buy in Bulk at a Local Co-Op
Co-ops are becoming more and more popular these days—especially in Nebraska. Our state is leading the charge, with eight of the largest co-ops in America calling Nebraska home. One of them is the Nebraska Food Cooperative, an online farmers’ market where you can connect with local farmers, bakeries, butchers, coffee shops and more, and arrange a pick-up or have goods delivered directly from your home. Not only does this help cut out a lot of waste by communicating directly with a supplier, but it also cuts down on fossil fuels as the goods don’t have to travel as far to get to you and helps support local businesses.
Apply for a Plot in a Community Garden
Photo courtesy of Addie Gengenbach via City Sprouts
Growing your own food is a great way to cut down on waste, learn a new skill and make new friends! Luckily, there are many incredible local community gardens in the Omaha area where you can put down roots—including City Sprouts, The Big Garden, the Dundee Community Garden, Benson Community Garden and so many more.
Take Advantage of Omaha’s Many Farmers’ Markets
Honestly, meals taste so much better when made using fresh ingredients. And you can get all of the fresh, locally grown ingredients you want at an Omaha farmers’ market. By shopping at a local market, you can help support local farmers and makers’ businesses, eliminate waste and have a great time! Use our guide to this season’s markets and stock up on fresh produce, warm pastries, colorful flowers and handcrafted goods.
Photo courtesy of Hillside Solutions
Organic materials—like food, manure and yard waste—are one of the largest contributors of methane gas in the country. They also happen to be some of the easiest materials to recycle and compost. If you’re planning on starting a garden, or are joining a local community garden, compost is a great way to fertilize your plants. And if you want to just drop off your compost, Hillside Solutions has several drop-off locations around Omaha where you can take your compostable waste (like food, paper towels, bio-plastics and more) and have them turned into nutrient-dense soil! Hillside also offers plenty of other amazing eco-friendly programs that you can subscribe to! Click here to learn more about everything they offer.
Get Reusable Home Products at the Dapper Dwelling
If you’re looking for materials to start your new zero-waste lifestyle, visit the Dapper Dwelling, a local home goods shop offering well-made goods created with fewer chemicals and less waste. We’re big fans of their eco-friendly dishcloths—which you can use in place of paper towels—their reusable produce bags, pot brushes and reusable beeswax food wraps.
Utilize Eco-Friendly Lawn Care
When you own your home, or live in a place where you’re in charge of taking care of the landscaping, it can be hard to keep it green. Doing it yourself is super labor-intensive and you never know what types of harmful practices landscaping companies have. Luckily, Omaha is home to ecoScapes, a 100% eco-friendly lawn care and landscaping company that provides professional green services to residential and commercial customers. Plus, they reduce chemical usage by 90%, so you never have to worry about your loved ones or pets playing in the yard again.
How do you reduce waste in Omaha?
Let us know in the comments below!