Paper or Plastic? Choose Reusable at Mother Nature’s Foods!

By Deb Koteras, Mother Nature Foods

When bagging your groceries or wrapping your sandwich, it may be convenient to grab a plastic bag. But the environmental cost of doing so is becoming astronomical. “It’s estimated that Americans use over 380 billion plastic bags and wraps a year. A report by the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that currently the equivalent of one dump truck of plastic litter is entering our oceans every day. That is expected to increase to three dump trucks per day. The report estimates there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.”1

The Last Plastic Straw Movement reports that “over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used each day in the United States. In only the past twenty years, people have come to expect plastic straws in every drink, in an example of extreme waste being generated for minimal convenience. These short-lived tools are usually dropped into a garbage can with no further thought, instantly becoming a source of plastic pollution.”

Mother Nature’s Foods in Eau Claire has many reusable bags, containers, water bottles, and utensils. Here are a few of the Earth-friendly reusable items they carry:

These multi-styled, many-sized bags fold inside of a pocket that is about the size of your fist when it is all stuffed inside. They also have a D-ring that comes with them so they can be attached to anything. Keep one in the house, the glove box, your purse, and carry one to work every day.

To-Go Ware

  • Bamboo utensil sets (adult- and child-sized) in a holder with a D-ring. Great for a lunch box, purse, and camping!
  • Collapsible 100% silicone food containers in 1-, 2-, and 4-cup sizes.  BPA-free and oven-, microwave-, and dishwasher-safe.
  • E-cloths (reusable cloths instead of paper towels).

Polished Stainless-Steel Drinking Straws
Deb Koteras, owner of Mother Nature Foods, says, “My eighteen-year-old daughter thinks these are the coolest!  She loves to make smoothies and uses them all the time!” Dishwasher-safe, or a pipe cleaner works well to really get it clean.

But What about the Cost?
Yes, there is an initial cost to buy a reusable item, but in the long run you will save money by not having to keep buying disposable plastics. Koteras notes, “Reusable items are cost-effective if you even think remotely about the effects of all these things that we use and just throw away!”

Changing to Reusables
Reading about the plight of the oceans and other environmental effects of plastics can, and should, motivate us to make a change to using all reusables. But how? Koteras advises, “I think it is easier for most to change things out a little at a time, but for some, it is all or nothing! Do whatever works best for you. But I think we just really have to make that mindful decision to change. Our world is in big trouble, so the sooner people make a change, the better chance we have that there will be a world that we want our children to actually live in.”



The Watershed Café: A River Restaurant’s Sustainable Story

By Summer Kelly, The Watershed Café

“Earth Day is a meaningful holiday for me,” says Rita Rasmuson, owner of The Watershed Café, her eyes alight with enthusiasm as she bustles about creating the day’s made-from-scratch triple berry buckle and her famous quiches. “It is one of the most understated, yet most important days of the year, especially for those of us along the St. Croix River.”

Earth Day was founded by a denizen of the St. Croix River watershed, environmentalist and U.S. senator Gaylord Nelson, from nearby Clear Lake, Wisconsin. Senator Nelson was also instrumental in the 1968 National Wild and Scenic River System legislation, established to preserve and safeguard the diverse habitat and ecology of rivers of special national importance. The St. Croix River was included among only eight when the system was first established.

The St. Croix River Valley is home to a vibrant community of conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts, state parks, extensive hiking and water trail systems, and people supporting the local movement. The Watershed Café was built on the vision of a locally and sustainably sourced restaurant along the St. Croix River, one that honors the surrounding natural resources.

“My hope is that we work together to protect the rivers, the land, and the community,” Rita states passionately. “This is where our food comes from. To eat fresh food and eat locally, we need to use sustainable business practices, educate ourselves and one another, and cultivate partnerships that support environmental stewardship.”

Rita upholds those standards with a mindful, whole foods mentality. The Watershed Café works closely with four farms within 10 miles of the restaurant to source much of its fresh produce, dairy products, meats, and cheeses. Other products are sourced from within a 100-mile radius whenever possible. Striving to support small, family-owned-and-operated businesses with shared values is key. Through the restaurant’s suppliers, Rita seeks products that meet her ecological ideals. Even the restaurant’s to-go packaging is environmentally friendly.

“Everyone is welcome at The Watershed Café,” Rita exclaims. “We bring sustainable, organic/natural, local, and whole foods to the table for all to enjoy. We invite you to share in the delicious comfort food and good company at our Watershed Café!” The Watershed Café is located at 99 North Cascade Street in Osceola, Wisconsin. For more details, please visit

Summer Kelly is a local gardener and plant-enthusiast with a passion for marketing and environmental sustainability. Crossing paths with Rita and Steve of The Watershed Café is the best thing that has happened to Summer in her free-lance marketing career.

New Sustainability Fair Kicks Off Earth Week

The Chippewa Valley Sustainability Fair will include several events throughout Earth Week, April 15–22. This year’s theme is Action, and the fair will offer ways you can take action to address environmental challenges facing the world.

The week will feature a Youth STEAM Fair at the Lismore in downtown Eau Claire. Middle school students will present their projects in all areas of STEAM as well as sustainability, air and water quality, human-environment interaction, and waste management. Open to the public and free.

Another opportunity during the week is the fourth annual Jam It For the Planet, Saturday, April 21, in downtown Eau Claire. Come for the great music and stay for the cause!

This music and educational event celebrates women leaders, as well as Mother Nature, by showcasing the gifts, talents, and abilities of area women who will perform on stage, share in discussions, and lead learning opportunities. The event is family-friendly, with a kids’ interactive music show, an Earth Day superhero meet-and-greet, a kids’ creation station, and much more.

The Jam It series has historically featured a great lineup of musicians performing for Planet Earth. Visit for more information.

Another week-long effort will be the Week Without Waste challenge. Residents throughout Eau Claire County can pledge to not create any landfill-destined waste during their curbside garbage collection for the entire week.

To learn more about the fair, visit