5 Easy Ways to Eat More Sustainably in Honor of Earth Day
April 22nd is Earth Day, a day dedicated to creating awareness and generating support for environmental protection. Reducing food waste and eating a more sustainable diet are both a part of environmental stewardship, and since we all eat, each of us can play a significant role in protecting our planet. Here are 5 easy ways to eat with the planet in mind.
- Eat a more plant-based diet. Plant-based foods, such as vegetables, have a lower carbon footprint than animal-based foods, such as red meat. In fact, beef has been shown to have the greatest projected impact on the environment.1 That’s because beef requires more land (for feed, grazing, pasture, etc.) and water (irrigation for crops to feed animals); it also produces a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions from byproducts like methane from manure.1 Try going meatless one day per week. See the Vegetarian Guide for ideas here!
- Eat seasonally and locally. How a food is grown as well as how far it travels influences its overall carbon footprint. Plan meals in accordance with the season. Shop at your local farmers’ market and/or join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group for fresh, local, and seasonal produce.
- Meal plan. Meal planning helps reduce food waste and minimizes extra trips to the grocery store. As you meal plan, take inventory of what you already have. Buy only what you need, and eat foods that are perishable first. Be creative with leftovers at home, and freeze food before it spoils.
- Cook efficiently. Put lids on pots and pans; cook in bulk; use a toaster oven or microwave when possible, and only use as much water as necessary.
Reduce food waste. Food waste is much more than just food that is not eaten. Food waste also represents the use of natural resources that were invested in the planting, growing, transporting, storing, preparation and serving of the foods. Challenge yourself to reduce your personal food waste. Here’s how:
- Buy only what you need at the grocery store by planning ahead and making a grocery list. Be realistic with how much you can eat, and avoid overbuying foods on sale.
- Eat what you buy. Use what spoils first, know what foods you already have on hand, prepare only what you need, and eat leftovers.
- Don’t toss before it spoils. Use preservation techniques, like canning and freezing, to make foods last longer.
- Avoid the trash. Share food before it spoils and/or compost. Keep food fresh by properly storing it.
- Learn how to properly interpret expiration dates: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/food-product-dating/food-product-dating.