A pile of food scraps. The Stony Brook Environmental Club showed attendees how to make the most of their food at a cooking workshop on April 12. MICHAEL COHGLAN/FLICKR VIA CC BY-SA 2.0

The Stony Brook Environmental Club hosted a sustainable cooking demonstration in Tubman Hall on April 12 at 7 p.m. that showcased healthy and tasty recipes using ingredients most Americans usually waste.

Together with Tubman Hall resident assistant, Maria Grima, a senior environmental studies major, the Environmental Club made vegan biscuits, vegan pot pie and a celery radish salad. Even the leftovers from these already efficient dishes were used for a vegan broth, whipped up by club president and  junior sustainable studies major Condrea Zhuang.

“It produces less food waste,” Zhuang said. “In America, people throw away 40 percent of all groceries they buy. There’s usually lots of nutrients in the parts that people throw away.”

According to the event’s organizers, many Americans miss out on the nutritional benefits found in consuming all parts of produce.

“Celery leaves for example have a lot of nutrients and that gets thrown away,” Zhuang said. “Potato skins, onion skins, a lot of the nutrients from food are concentrated on the outside and so when you don’t eat the outside you’re not getting all the benefits.”

Recipes that incorporate these ingredients, like the ones used by the Environmental Club, can all be found on minimalistbaker.com, a website dedicated to simple, plant-based recipes. On top of decreasing food waste, these recipes offer other benefits from supermarkets’ more processed offerings.

“You should stop eating packaged foods, just for the sake of your health,” Environmental Club external relations manager and junior linguistics major Dave Lennard said. “More likely than not if it comes in a plastic bag, it’s not good for you.”

“It’s more cost effective too, to not throw away food that can be eaten,” sophomore ecosystems and human impact major Alyssa Diodato added.

During the event, the Environmental Club discussed other ways to incorporate sustainable actions into everyday life. Diodato had a bag she made from an old T-shirt by sealing the bottom closed and converting the sleeves into handles. Lennard recommended investing in a reusable water bottle, reducing the need for paper and plastic.

“You can bring a reusable bottle anywhere,” Lennard said. “You can even bring it to Starbucks and they’ll fill it for you.”

The water most disposable water bottle companies use varies very little from the tap water you can find at your kitchen sink, event coordinator and senior sustainability studies major Jennie Ryder said.

“If your water is packaged in the same state it’s sold, it doesn’t have to go through regulations, since it is just tap water with added minerals,” Ryder said. “Many water distributing companies in the U.S. all use the same water source, but put their own labels on the bottle.”

Lennard emphasized the importance of reusable items on the path toward a more sustainable society.

“You can bring a hand towel with you to eliminate paper waste,” Lennard said. “You can buy bulk reusable straws on Amazon or this website called ‘Bamboo Straws’ and you can distribute them to your friends. Straws are the number one source of waste on many tropical beaches around the world.”

While the Environmental Club tried to convince students to live a more sustainable lifestyle by appealing to their stomachs, the club’s next step is to appeal to people’s hearts and minds. On April 17, the club will lead a “March for Your Planet” on campus to raise awareness about the costly waste levels of a modern lifestyle. A poster-making session is scheduled for April 16 at 8 p.m. in SAC 302.