Goodbye Chipotle: Eliminating To-Go Food Waste

This is Trevor Drake reporting from Minneapolis. One of the actions that I selected was to “eliminate to-go food waste.”

During the baseline week, I’ve been taking notes on which places I’ll be able to frequent, and it looks like Noodles is one of the few. If you sit-down to eat at a Noodles restaurant, your food comes on a ceramic plate along with real silverware (wrapped in a napkin, however), and drinks in a non-disposable plastic cup. This is easy to deal with — I can just bring my own silverware (and request no butter — see flatbread below).

Chipotle, however, makes it almost impossible to order a meal without generating waste. Burritos come wrapped in foil, in a basket with wax paper. Utensils are plastic, drink cups are waxed paper, and chips comes in a paper bag.

If you count the number of waste items generated from these two pictures, you should come up with 3 for Noodles versus 6 for Chipotle — twice as much!

This is unfortunate, because Chipotle could probably implement zero-waste and offer all compostable products. This would even add value to their “ethical” marketing campaign. For now, however, it looks like I’ll be going 60 days without Chipotle!


PS — I did send an email to Steve Ells, Chipotle CEO, requesting composting at all restaurants. Let’s hope for the best!


Starting Out with the Three Actions Project

This is Leslie. I’m participating with my husband, Peter. We are the parents of five young-adult children. Our recognition of the threat posed by climate change and our concern for our children’s lives and futures has caused us to significantly shift our lifestyle in the last two years to one of greater sustainability.

Our household has already taken action on many of the menu items for the Three Actions project but we are by no means at the bottom of the chart. We believe involvement in this project will give us the discipline to measure our progress and the opportunity to develop new habits.

We have chosen two actions together, and each of us chose one action separately. Our shared actions are:

  1. Eliminate All Waste. Every year for the past five years, we’ve chosen to work toward one significant sustainability goal. The goal for 2012 was to become a zero waste household after seeing this video, but we haven’t made significant progress. Instead, we’ve been “creating the conditions for success” (more on this later). We believe that the act of photographing and measuring will help us be more successful and we appreciate the information the Three Actions project has provided as background.
  2. Reduce Plug Loads by 33%.  Our house has a 3.2 kW solar electric system (as well as solar hot air panels), which is small for a household but it’s all the space we had on our roof. In June, our PV system produced 3/4 of our electricity. We considered choosing the goal of Living Within our Solar Budget, but we felt this “lesser” goal would provide the kind of measurement that we needed to reach the larger goal. The worksheets that came with the Three Actions project will help us understand where our energy is being used so we can either change our usage or determine if we should add an off-grid solar component for some discrete uses (like powering our freezer, which is an essential part of our program to eliminate food waste).

My separate action is to Eliminate Food Waste. Like every other American, we undoubtedly have food dying in our refrigerator at this very moment. But our household has an even bigger challenge: our garden!

I joined the urban farming program of the Permaculture Research Institute for Cold Climates (PRI) and have turned about 1/3 of our city lot over to organic food production. We produce (more or less successfully) cucumbers, zucchini, squash, collard greens, kale, chard, lettuce, peppers, green beans, carrots, radishes, garlic, leeks, onions, cabbage, basil, tomatoes, potatoes, beets, rhubarb, horseradish, mint, oregano, sunflowers and strawberries. We’ve been expanding our  plantings of fruits and berries, though our harvests are still quite small.

So far this summer we’ve harvested more than 100 pounds of zucchini and cucumber, 51 heads of garlic, 40 hot hungarian peppers, a few pounds of tomatoes, and bushels of greens.  I’ve managed to stay on top of it with canning, pickling, cooking and freezing. This goal will help me keep on track. Plus, I’d like to see how far into the winter we can get eating our own produce.

(PS: Our household also blogs on our sustainability efforts, the activities our of neighborhood sustainability group, and things occurring around the Twin Cities at Think of It As An Adventure).

Hi!This is a te…


This is a test.  Am I at the 3Acts blog?  This is Jeff Bell.  Working on baselines of electric and water use first.  Will do transport soon.  I have already learned a lot.  Later.

Jeff Bell, South Mpls contact.


The menu list below shows a count of how many participants (both online and local) have chosen each action for our pilot project!  The most popular actions were (Eliminate Food Spoilage Waste, Take a Navy Shower and Compost all Food Scraps Via Worm Bin), however we are excited to see that almost every action was chosen by at least one participant, and that we have a very wide range of interests!



Hopefully you have all had a chance to begin filling out your baseline tracking week spreadsheets, we are on Day 3 of the Baseline week already!  Please email us with an questions you have at this point!


Another exciting meeting yesterday!  Thanks to everyone who could be there as well as those who are participating online!  We are working on uploading a new ‘Participant Information + Resources’ section on the website which will contain information about the cohorts, as well as the meeting 1 and 2 videos and information about blogging.  Look forward to an email inviting you to the blog tomorrow evening and be sure to sign up for a ‘username only’ account on before accepting the invite.

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Here are some photos from meeting 2:

Hello threeACTIONS Project Community!

Welcome to the threeACTIONS Project blog!  We kicked off the threeACTIONS Project on Monday, July 16th with an informational and sign up meeting at the Midtown YWCA, in Minneapolis.  We were incredibly excited to see many eager participants, and are looking forward to meeting even more of you next Monday at our second meeting.  We will be going over more detailed information about what data to keep track of and the schedule and outcomes of the project.  Same location, 6-8 pm!   If you missed the first meeting and still would like to participate, no problem.  A video of the first meeting will be able shortly on our website so you can catch up.  Just be sure to choose your 3 actions by our next meeting and we will look forward to speaking with you then!  Following are some photos of our kick-off meeting last Monday:

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