It’s often overwhelming to think about all of the different changes in our lives that can make an environmental impact. It’s easy to lose yourself in thinking about all the major ways that society must act in order to save the earth for future generations, but you shouldn’t forget that even the smallest actions can start chain reactions that have huge effects on environmental sustainability. Some of the easiest little changes you can make have to do with food – what you’re eating and how you eat it. As it turns out, what you have for lunch has a lot more meaning than you’d initially think! Here are five small changes you can make towards eating sustainably and helping the environment.
Eat Less Beef
Eating less meat in general will do wonders for the Earth’s health. But you can start even smaller and still make a big impact – just reducing your beef intake, specifically, can go a long way towards helping the environment! According to the BBC, 14 percent of all greenhouse emissions are caused by livestock breeding. Most of these emissions are made up of methane gas, which cows produce by belching. There are estimates that the average cow produces up to 500 litres of methane gas a day, way more than the average car! Eating less beef ensures less demand for the mass farming of cows, which will go a long way towards helping out with our current environmental burden.
Buy Fruits in Season
We’ve gotten used to being able to buy strawberries at the grocery store in January, thanks to the power of international shipping. But this convenience comes at a terrible cost for our Earth – transporting fruits and vegetables across the world creates a massive impact on greenhouse gas emissions. When you buy fruits and vegetables during the seasons that they are traditionally grown in your area – such as strawberries in spring, peaches in summer – you increase the chances that your fruit has been grown directly in or near your immediate area, rather than having been shipped or driven from across the continent or the globe, where the fruits are actually in season. It’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Buy local from local farmers’ markets
As a companion to the previous recommendation, buying at least some of your groceries from a local farmers’ market is a great step towards living a more eco-conscious life. Buying produce grown locally means less demand for produce shipped internationally – which leads to fewer greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere. You don’t have to buy all your groceries at the farmer’s market – you can start small, maybe with a bag of fruit or a carton of eggs. In addition to helping out the environment, you’re also supporting local businesses in your area. Two goals accomplished for the price of one!
Grow some herbs and vegetables yourself
Why not take some time to yourself and start a little herb or vegetable garden? Growing your own reduces your own food waste, as well as demand for them to be shipped internationally.
Just like plants, growing certain herbs and vegetables is way easier than it seems! For example, take green onions. To regrow a green onion, all you have to do is leave the white ends of the green onion bulb in a glass of water. In just a few days, you will see the green stems emerge and regrow. You can keep slicing the tops off once they’ve gotten long enough, and the stems will continue to keep growing. Thus, you reduce the food waste you would have made if you’d just thrown the green onion ends away, as well as gaining some tasty new vegetables!
Bring your own coffee cup to cafes
A morning cup of coffee can be an anchor of peace in a busy workday. But you can make a big difference even with this small action by bringing your own reusable coffee cup or mug to your cafe of choice. Some cafes will even give you incentives to do this – some locations of Starbucks, for example, give you a 10 cent discount if you bring your own coffee cup! A demonstration by the Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission has shown that most single-use coffee cups are not biodegradable, due to the plastic lining inside the cardboard of the cup. Thus, most coffee cups are thrown straight into garbage landfills, making up a massive amount of waste! A reusable coffee cup can make up for potentially hundreds of single-use coffee cups being thrown into landfills. Such a small step can make a massive difference for the environment.
Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to just coffee! You can use a portable mug for just about any drink: smoothies, milkshakes, and juices are all perfect for hot summer days. With these drinks, you can even go further in your mission of eating sustainably by using reusable metal straws instead of the plastic ones usually offered at cafes and restaurants. Not only are you making up for hundreds of cups, you’re replacing the straws that end up in landfills, too!