5 Ways to Live Sustainably in Sacramento
By Heather Kennedy (Guest Blogger)
Sacramento earned the title of Farm-to-Fork capitol for a reason. And its up to us to help our city keep that honor.
By shopping and dining at local businesses that follow sustainable practices, you are supporting local, sustainable farmers. One of the greatest ways you can make a difference is by voting with your dollar and making sure organic, unpackaged products are in high demand!
The following are my five tips for living sustainably in Sacramento and rocking an eco-friendly urban lifestyle.
1) Farmers Markets/Urban Farms Galore!
We are incredibly lucky to live in a city that takes pride in being the Farm to Fork Capital of the Nation. There are farmers markets available year round practically covering every day of the week!
Most folks associate farmer’s markets with Summer time, but there is so much fantastic produce available in the winter too (think fresh salad greens and sweet potatoes)!
If you’re not sure what to do with the tasty goodies you come across at the market, there are several very talented local food bloggers/chefs that share recipes to guide you! Check out Roseville-based blogger Ful-filled, local cookbook author and photographer Naturally Ella, and Vegan Chef Jack in the Wild.
In addition to multi-vendor markets, there are also urban farmers offering up their homegrown veggies thanks to the 2015 Urban Farm Ordinance passed in Sacramento. My good friends Kyle Hagerty and Morgan Daily often have their vintage-style farmstand set up outside their East Sac home where you can pick up some greens while touring their stunning urban farm. They’re typically open every other Tuesday, depending on their yield.
2) Farm to Fork Restaurants and Coffee Shops
If you’re not interested in cooking tonight or need a place to catch up with a friend, Sacramento offers a wide variety of delicious, sustainable restaurants and coffee shops! I’m not even going to attempt to list them all because there are so many. I simply wouldn’t know where to begin. Just type farm to fork/farm to table into Yelp and try them all!
Eco-Pro Tip – If you’re going to one of Sacramento’s fabulous coffee shops and are ordering to go, make sure you bring your own cup! Several places sell their own. I personally have a Keep Cup, Klean Kanteen (made in our neighboring town, Chico) and a Cuppow lid for a mason jar. They keep my iced drinks cold and my hot drinks hot much longer than a single use plastic cup or paper cup. I especially like the insulated stainless steel tumblers! It is also better for your health to use stainless steel and glass cups, but that’s a whole other subject. Bonus: You get a discount for bringing your own cup!
3) Awesome Community Gardens
If you’d like to get your hands in the dirt, but live in an apartment or are yardless, you’re in luck! Sacramento has several city blocks that are dedicated to community gardens.
There’s a gorgeous organic community garden a block away from Naked Lounge on 14th & Q St. called Fremont Community Garden.
Here you can get a very decent sized plot for a very small annual fee. And in addition to gaining a bit of land to grow food/flowers to your heart’s content, you are also gaining friendships with your plot neighbors. That’s the ‘community’ part!
4) Bike Friendly
Sacramento is the perfect sized city for commuting via bicycle. Honestly, the grid is more bike friendly than car friendly!
It’s easy to navigate all those one-way streets, roundabouts, and alleyways. You know those random streets in Midtown where suddenly you can no longer go straight and have to make an undesired turn? Guess what? Your bike can go right through!
There are lots of activities we especially enjoy by bike rather than car, including picking up fresh produce from the farmers market, fresh bread & pastries from New Roma Bakery, and our favorite, riding to one of the many amazing breweries in town. Another benefit to riding your bike is the fact that you can park it for free! This is a big plus considering the metered parking hours will soon be extended and the price will increase in preparation for the new Arena traffic. There’s nothing better than going for a night ride on a warm summer night. Just remember to stay well lit!
If you’re more interested in a scenic view, hop on the American River Bike Trail, which spans 30 miles from Downtown Sac to Folsom. We often enter the trail by riding through Sac State to the Guy West Bridge. It’s a blast riding over the river on a pedestrian bridge! There are plenty of great spots for a picnic under the bridge too.
5) Bulk Up
Whole Foods stores in the Sacramento area and the local Sacramento Food Co-op have a decent amount of bulk options to help you reduce packaging waste AND food waste. All too often we spend more to get more than we need.
Have a recipe that requires a small handful of cacao nibs and a full bag is crazy expensive? Just measure out exactly how much you need for the recipe and call it a day!
Skipping the packaging goes beyond the baking, granola, and legumes section. You can DIY nut butters, refill containers with natural liquid hand soap, shampoo, lotion, etc., pick up some loose leaf tea, even henna powder! There’s also a new shop in town near Temple Coffee Roasters on S St. that is all bulk eco-friendly laundry, bath and body supply called Refill Madness.
You can also buy bulk honey! The Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies shop is the best place for this.
Eco-Pro Tip: Bring a reusable container to have filled with meats and sides from the deli instead of having it put into a plastic baggie or single-use container! Make sure you ask someone to weigh your reusable container before filling up, otherwise you’ll be unnecessarily charged extra for the weight. At the Sac Food Co-op, bring your containers to the front desk when you walk in and they’ll weigh them for you. Don’t forget to put all your finds into reusable bags!