Carpooling, biking and public transit are all obvious ways to decrease one's effect on the environment. And there are plenty of easy shopping-related actions to lighten your carbon food print while eating healthier.
Buy Locally and in Season
Not only does eating locally grown fruits and vegetables save fossil fuel, your food is fresher, tastes better, cost less, retains more nutrients plus support local farmers and keep dollars in your community. Locate local farmers' markets as well as community supported agriculture organizations, or CSA's, at www.localharvest.org
While organic foods are generally more expensive than conventional foods, organic produce purchased in-season is usually comparable in price to conventional produce. Current research is also showing both short- and long-term benefits to our population and the planet with organic and other sustainable production systems, including reduced nutrient pollution, improved soil organic matter, lower energy use, reduced pesticide residues in food and water and enhanced biodiversity. Biodiversity is enhanced in organic agricultural systems, which makes these farms more resilient to unpredictable weather patterns and pest outbreaks, as is predicted with climate change.
Buying in bulk reduces the amount of plastic, paper, metal and energy that goes into manufacturing the packaging. If bulk isn’t available, buy in larger packages like "family sizes" rather than individual sizes.
BYOB (Bring Your Own Bags) to the Grocery
Even reusing paper supermarket bags from previous visits can lessen the impact of the 100 billion petroleum-based plastic bags used each year in the US, which end up as litter, landfill and a pollutant of our fresh waters.
Once You Get Home:
Conserve Energy in the Kitchen
Purchase EnergyStar appliances, which are rated as energy-efficient. Other energy-saving tips:
- Know what you need before you open the fridge door.
- Cover the pot to heat food more quickly or use a pressure cooker.
- During summer months, run the hood fan to keep gas and heat out of your kitchen so you require less A/C to cool the house.
- Cook larger quantities and freeze in one meal portion sizes, which not only saves energy, but gets you almost instant home-cooked meals on some other night.
It is predicted that water, not fuel, will be our scarcest commodity in the not-distant future. So, don't let the sink faucet run.
- Soak dishes in a sink of soapy water to loosen food, wash in there and then rinse all at once.
- If you use a dishwasher, buy an energy- and water-efficient model. Don't bother rinsing the dishes (just scrape them) and run the dishwasher only when it is full.
- Repair leaks and drips.
- Install aerators in faucets to make less water more efficient.
- Don't use running water to defrost frozen food. Not only does it waste water but it is bacteriologically unsafe.
In addition to reducing the packaging you bring home, you can compost your food waste. Rather than filling the trash can, your food waste can nourish your garden. You can use any container by the sink and haul it outside when it's full. Some municipalities offer free or reduced-price composting bins or they can be purchased at local garden shops.
When throwing or attending a party, use inexpensive ceramic dishes, real silverware and re-usable plastic cups. Avoid using disposable products. If you must use disposables, use those that are accepted as part of your neighborhood recycling program.
Information provided by Renee Hoffinger, Christine McCullum-Gomez, PhD, RD, and Anne-Marie Scott, PhD, RD, of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group.