On average, each person in the US produces about 4.4 pounds of trash each day, accumulating about 1600 pounds of trash per person each year. That is a lot of waste! While there are many potential sources of waste, food packaging and food waste contribute to a large part of what’s in our trash cans each day. Last week, we focused on sustainability in skincare. This week, we’ll be sharing some tips on making earth-friendly choices with your food and diet.
Whole foods / Less packaging: A lot of waste associated with the foods we eat comes from the packaging it’s housed in. The “conveniently” individually-wrapped snacks, beverages, and on-the-go foods create loads of waste. Focusing on buying more whole foods that don’t require as much, if any, packaging can help to greatly reduce the trash and plastic in your bins at the end of the day. Just like our tips on understanding labels at the grocery store and focusing on whole foods with fewer ingredients, shopping more around the perimeter of the store for fresh produce and meats rather than the inner aisles full of processed, packaged foods will be beneficial for your body, your wallet, and the earth.
Pro tip: You can also buy staples like grains, nuts, honey, and nut butters in bulk using reusable jars to reduce packaging.
Plan ahead / BYO: A little bit of planning can go a long way in cutting down your waste (and saving you money!). A lot of food-associated waste comes from the packaging used when eating out and buying coffee/drinks to go. An afternoon of meal prep at the beginning of the week will ensure that you have tasty, healthful foods to eat all week long. Store your yummy meals in reusable glass tupperware or jars and you can feel great knowing you’re not spending extra cash on eating out or creating more waste with to-go meal packaging. Bring your own (BYO) reusable mugs or mason jars to your local coffee shop to get your daily almond milk latte, and use a reusable tote when you shop to avoid a growing pile of paper or plastic grocery bags at home.
Consider the source / Buy local: Sustainability in food goes beyond the waste we see with packaging. The food industry uses massive amounts of energy and resources to put food on our plates. It’s important to consider the source of the food you eat in addition to the way it’s packaged. Many companies use harmful chemicals and pesticides to grow their crops, affecting the soil and our water sources. Conventional factory farming of meats puts tremendous strain on our land with the amount of animal waste produced, the hormones and chemicals that can leach into the soil and water, not to mention the treatment of the animals in such facilities. Then, once these foods have been grown and harvested, they have to get to the grocery store, using lots of oil and resources to travel the globe. Choosing local and sustainably farmed options is a great way to support farmers and earth-friendly food production, while putting fresher, more nutrient-dense foods on your plate. Explore your local farmers market and talk to the vendors. They’ll be happy to share with you how their practices are beneficial for the earth and yielding tastier, healthier returns. Don’t forget to bring your reusable totes and containers to carry all your fresh, local goodies home.
If you feel overwhelmed by any of these suggestions, just remember that none of these changes have to be made overnight. We want these practices to be sustainable for your lifestyle as well! Take one thing at a time, and let us know if you have any questions. Please share any other tips you have on making sustainable choices with your food and diet below.