How to Eat Sustainably: A Guide. The way we eat leaves a significant impact on the environment. How can you contribute towards reversing the damage we have done to the environment? Here are tips for eating healthily and protecting the planet from climate change.
By Thomas Nemel
How to Eat Sustainably to Help Yourself and the Planet
The food system contributes majorly to climate change. Depletion of fresh water resources, uncontrolled land use, and pollution of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems through excessive phosphorus and nitrogen have a heavy impact on the environment. Our impact of the consumption on the environment will be felt more as the world’s population continues to swell.
There are several measures to reduce how our nutrition patterns impact the environment. Options include dietary changes to embrace healthier, plant-based diets, improved technology, and reduced food waste. You can make your small contribution to help make the world a better place. Here are ways you can transform your eating habits to protect the planet.
Impact of Food on the Planet
Food can have a significant impact on the environment and development. Food can impact the environment in many ways, including how it is processed, where it comes from, the type of food, and how it is produced. Eating patterns lower in animal-based foods and higher in plant-based foods can lower the negative impact of food on the planet. Generally, plant-based foods require fewer resources such as water and land.
There is also the question of food waste. Large amounts of food go to waste every year. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), roughly 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted or lost annually. This is about a third of all food produced globally. Food waste leaves a heavy impact on the environment and human health as over 800 million go hungry despite the large amount of food that never gets consumes. When you throw food out as garbage, you add it to landfills. The food produces greenhouse gases such as methane. Food that is wasted means that soil, land, and water needed to produce the food were wasted.
How Food Waste Happens at Home
To contribute towards saving the planet, you must first understand society’s impact on the environment. There are few reasons you can contribute to food waste at home. First, storing your food improperly means it can go bad before you use it. Also, preparing too much leads to leftovers, and this will end in a landfill, contributing to environmental degradation. Shopping impulsively without planning your meals could lead to buying food you don’t need.
How to Make Environmentally Friendly Choices
Fixing human impact on the environment takes a deliberate effort. You must make food choices that are good for the environment. Interventions you could embrace include:
- Opting for plant-based foods more often
- Always having a reusable water bottle
- Using reusable grocery bags for your shopping errands
- Store your food and pack lunches in reusable containers
- Store perishable food in the original packaging to extend freshness
The bottom line is to waste less or to consume efficiently. You can eliminate food waste by planning meals and buying only the food you need and can consume without wastage. Prepare your food and store what is left.
Also, if you don’t need to cook, you should eat out. Sustainable living impact on the environment will improve your lifestyle. Besides healthy eating, you could add some ideas from Gym Expert for fitness to live a fulfilling life.
Planning Meals and Buying Food
During the COVID lockdown, more people prepared their meals at home, which also meant more waste. However, the overall impact on the environment during lockdown was a positive result as scientists saw a 500% decrease in industrial effluents and sewage in rivers, which improved dissolved oxygen and PH of river water by 79% and 7.9, respectively.
Despite the positives from the lockdown, we must still do a lot to correct our contribution to environmental degradation. For your meals, plan and decide how much and what you need. Before you go out shopping, check your fridge to ensure you don’t buy excess. Only buy precisely the foods you need and stick to your list to avoid impulse buys. Buy imperfect fruits and vegetables as most of this end in landfills. Despite the appearance, the produce is just as healthy, so buying it prevents food waste.
Preparing Your Food with the Environment in Mind
Always use perishable items first. Spinach and berries should be consumed within days of buying them. Potatoes, carrots, and apples will last longer, so no urgency on these. Explore recipes that motivate you to use leftovers in the fridge. Soups, stir-fries, and quicheall taste good mixed with other leftover protein foods and vegetables. Don’t throw away your food scraps.
That leftover turkey or the vegetable scraps could sit in the freezer until you accumulate enough to prepare a soup broth. Another option for fruit and vegetable scraps is composting. You can make a compost bin or confirm with your community to know if they run a composting program.
Storing Food the Right Way
Global hunger is not about a lack of food. The world produces enough to nourish every human on the planet. However, a third of the food is lost before it can be consumed. In many developed countries, a lot of food waste happens in the kitchen. Poor storage facilities lead to mold and pest infestations ruining food. Improving how you store food will make it last longer.
Storing perishable foods at the front of the fridge will remind you to eat it. If something might go bad in days, freeze it for use later. Add labels with dates on leftover foods that you store in the freezer as a reminder of when you made them.
Switch to a Healthier Diet
Embracing a healthier diet can reduce your water footprint by up to 55%. Turning vegetarian reduces environmental degradation, but simply cutting down on meat could reduce your footprint by at least 10%. A healthy diet offers a win-win situation as you avoid lifestyle diseases and lower impact on environmental pollution. People can be healthier despite producing their food using less water.
Often, portions at restaurants are too big for one person. This leads to food waste as you will likely not finish your meal. An idea would be to split a meal with a friend to ensure it all gets eaten. Also, consider carrying an empty reusable container to take leftovers home.
Final Thoughts on How to Eat Sustainably
Besides the impact on the environment by plastic, humans also leave a massive carbon footprint from the food they eat. Methods of food production that don’t consider the impact on the environment contribute massively towards climate change. On a personal level, food waste adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and your food choices could be making the climate situation worse. You can still eat healthily and protect the environment, as shown.
How do you handle food waste in your home? Share a comment below!
Thomas Nemel is a passionate writer who is fascinated by topics on climate change and conservation. He researches the impact of human activity on the climate and pens proposals to help save the planet.