Sustainability has become more and more important, especially as awareness has increased over the past decade or so. More and more people have come to the conclusion that they have an obligation to make the world a better, healthier place – or at least not actively make it worse. That obligation has been largely internalized, meaning that more and more people are trying to figure out what they can do as an individual to make the world a more sustainable place. One of the most immediate impacts one can make is directly related to how and what they eat. Here are some suggestions that anyone can do to help make the world a more sustainable environment for everyone.
Become A Vegetarian
It may be uncomfortable to hear, but it is none-the-less true: Our reliance on meat is not particularly environmentally friendly. Many reports have noted that the processes involved in meat production – manufacturing, emissions, water use, and more – are all devastating for the environment. As such, people who are looking to eat more sustainably should start with their own consumption by shifting to a more plant-based diet. It doesn’t have to happen all at once – you can start by just reducing the amount of meat that you actually eat in small steps. The good news is that this also comes with health benefits, and is much less expensive although it may involve more preparation time.
Increase Your Variety
One of the little-discussed ways to eat in a more sustainable manner is to increase the variety of what you eat. Eating the same thing – and the same thing as everyone else – can damage nature and create agricultural problems for future generations. By eating a more varied diet, you’re committing your wallet to practices that are more environmentally sustainable and friendly. Make sure to do your research and find what other foods may work for you. Like becoming a vegetarian, you don’t have to move all at once: Instead, substitute out one common mass produced item for a different option to help shift the focus.
Up to 30% of all food is wasted. This, of course, is a tragedy on many levels, including from agriculture, food security, and financial perspectives. As such, you should do whatever you can to reduce your food waste. There are many things that can help you accomplish this goal. First, buy smaller products – particularly those that will expire quickly. This may mean more frequent trips to the grocery store, but at least you will save money on wasted food and help sustain the environment by not wasting resources. Second, develop a good system for tracking your leftovers. This will ensure that you don’t put something in the refrigerator and forget about it. It may mean that you need to plan better, and more often, but it is a good thing to do for the planet as well as your wallet.
Grow Your Own Food
There is no better way to ensure the sustainability of your food than to grow it yourself! Of course, this doesn’t mean that you will be able to grow every meal, but if you can even grow some fruits and vegetables, you will reduce the burden on your wallet and on the agricultural system by just a hair. This is a good thing environmentally and can help you become more comfortable at growing your own food supply.
Buy Fair Trade Products
Fair Trade means that a product has been certified as being environmentally friendly and sustainable. There are many types of Fair Trade products that you can purchase, such as coffee. There are also more than a few Fair Trade certifications, so make sure that you do your homework about what each different certification means and how it can be beneficial to you. When it comes to Fair Trade, keep in mind that the benefits of this type of food practice also applies to how a company treats their workers. This is obviously an added and important bonus!
Do Your Homework
If sustainability is a big issue for you, you should take the time in order to do research into the brands you are purchasing regularly and the types of stores you are buying from. What are their sustainability practices? Do they have any special certifications that can allow you to buy their food with comfort? What types of agricultural products do they sell, and what types of practices do those brands use? There are also some apps that you can download – like Giki – that can give you additional information on certain brands and what their practices are. This can be time-consuming, but it can give you a much better idea of how sustainable your products are.
Cut Out Wasteful Products
Remember, sustainability in your food practices is about much more than what you buy, but also pertains to the packaging of what you buy. The environmental damage caused by plastic has been well documented. Do whatever you can to cut plastic out of your food shopping. This means monitoring the packaging of what you buy in order to ensure that it isn’t plastic. It also means bringing your own bags from home or buying those reusable ones from grocery stores and actually reusing them. There’s at least one easy way to start: Don’t buy water bottles anymore. Instead, purchase a reusable mug or thermos that you can reuse over and over again. You can also stop buying disposable silverware and pack your own, even if it means buying travel-friendly items. You can also bring your own cups to coffee-to-go places, like Starbucks.
Cut Out The Paper Products
There are some paper products – like napkins, plates, and paper towels – that can be hugely wasteful. Cut them out if you can and switch to reusable alternatives. This will help to cut down on the amount of waste that you generate.
As you can see, living in a more sustainable manner is about more than just the food you literally put into your body. It can be a large lifestyle change, and it may take some time and effort to turn into a habit. However, there’s no doubt that it can be very, very beneficial to your peace of mind, your wallet, and the planet.