What’s the most effective way to reduce your carbon foodprint and make a positive difference on our planet? Here we discover these few daily food-related habits that are a total game-changer to help heal the planet and live a happier & healthier life.
Climate change is not a new phenomenon. Scientists have been sounding alarms about the warming planet for decades. But as more and more irrefutable evidence has surfaced, the issue is becoming more urgent than ever. World leaders are now attempting to grapple with the many new developments our changing climate will bring. As consumers, we have a responsibility to be more mindful of our personal impact and figure out some ways in which we could reduce our carbon foodprint.
According to Brighter Planet, food represents 21% of the average American’s total annual carbon foodprint of around 28.6 tons of carbon dioxide. Each person’s individual footprint depends on what kinds of foods they eat, how much of each they eat, how and where the food is produced and prepared, and what’s done with the leftovers.
Each of us has the power to make a difference and reverse the harm done to our global home by making small but important changes in the way we live—and in the way we eat. Just a few small changes can go a long way in benefiting the planet and its ecosystems and preserving it for generations to come.
Here are 8 of the best and simplest ways to lower your carbon foodprint:
1. Eat fewer animal foods & more plants
Countless studies have proven that carbon emissions from producing meat products and dairy are significantly higher than those produced by plant-based foods. Beef and lamb have higher emissions than pork and chicken, but the latter two types of meat still carry high emissions themselves.
Dairy products like cheese and butter have higher emissions than popular meats like chicken, and replacing butter with a plant-based alternative can slash your carbon foodprint by a third.
You can replace animal products removed from your diet with healthier, fibre-packed plant-based alternatives. There is a wide range of plant-based alternatives available for milk, cheese, butter, meat, and many other beloved animal products (except if you are looking for bug protein!). An important reminder if you are going on a vegetarian diet is to get your source of B12.
These products almost always carry dramatically lower carbon footprints, and they contain less saturated fat than their animal-derived counterparts.
2. Buy unprocessed foods with less packaging
Unprocessed foods are better for your health and for the environment. As they are not heavily processed, their carbon footprints are minimal, especially if they are locally sourced. It’s also advisable to look for food with little to no plastic packaging whenever you can.
Single-use plastic is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions not to mention the negative effects to our growing ocean and environmental pollution issues. Overall, packaging waste makes up one-third of what is delivered to landfills each year.
Try buying food wrapped in paper or biodegradable wrapping, or taking your own grocery and produce bags to the store. If you purchase processed foods, better if they’re packaged in glass or aluminium as they have a better recyclability rate, or nevertheless you can repurpose it into something else.
3. Plant a nature-friendly food garden
Planting a garden in an urban area can help to offset urban heat island effects and provide valuable habitats for native animals, birds and insects.
There are many other benefits to planting your own garden, too. Plants absorb carbon dioxide, a key factor in global warming, and if you plant a vegetable and herb garden, they can feed you and your family as well.
Creating your own garden space also acts as a food source for essential pollinators like bees, whom we rely on for food security. Furthermore, this is a great way to impact positively bee’s ecosystem avoiding bees colony collapse disorder.
Remember to keep your garden nature-friendly by using only organic pest control and fertilizers to avoid the use of harmful weed killers, pesticides and chemicals like glyphosate and atrazine.
4. Cook more meals at home
Cooking at home is a great way to garner awareness of your eating habits and to control exactly which ingredients go into your meals.
Avoiding take-away food reduces the emissions produced by travelling to pick up takeout meals or having them delivered to your door. And it saves you money too as you won’t spend as much on fuel.
If you still plan on ordering takeout from time to time, you can request that your meals are portioned into one of your personal containers to minimize your use of styrofoam and plastic packaging.
5. Eat your leftovers
Food waste is a huge problem in the developed world. It’s estimated that a massive 25% of all food produced globally is wasted. This equates to 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions and even more when considering the aviation shipping emissions involved.
The bulk of this food waste comes straight from people’s tables, refrigerators and homes. One of the easiest ways we can reduce our carbon foodprints is to minimize our food waste and eat our leftovers.
Plan your meals so that you don’t buy more food than you need. Store it carefully, and try to use produce that is past its sell-by date but still looks good to eat. If you need a little help, here are some awesome food waste apps to help you reduce your leftovers carbon foodprint.
6. Keep your waste away from landfills
Landfills are massive greenhouse gas emitters. You can divert your food scraps away from methane-producing landfills and live a more eco-friendly life by composting food scraps, minimizing your food wastage, and up-cycling, reusing and recycling used items made of plastic, paper, glass and metal. Glass jars, for example, make excellent vessels for home fermentation.
Bear in mind that only a fraction of recyclable food packaging items are actually recycled, so it won’t make much of a difference to recycle waste alone. It’s best to repurpose and reuse old items in any way you can to keep them out of the landfill, the environment, and the oceans. Alternatively, buy items that come in biodegradable paper or bioplastic packaging.
Starting your own compost is a great idea, especially if you are going to grow your own garden. A compost pile is a pile of food scraps that are used to fertilize plants, forming microorganisms that consume organic materials and return them to the soil for the garden to absorb nutrients.
7. Shop local & support small businesses
Imported products, food items and produce all carry hefty carbon foodprints due to the extensive shipping procedures they undergo. Besides the many advantages of the hyperlocal food movement, shopping local is an essential action in the fight against climate change. It keeps supply chains shorter and supports small businesses and regional economies.
You may want to consider choosing organic produce & supporting small food producers means the fruits and veggies are grown without the use of toxic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, antibiotics, make more responsible use of water and also pay their workers’ fair wages. Seek out family-owned farms with green and sustainable practices and you’ll be more likely to eat better and enjoy improved health too.
8. Use energy-efficient appliances & cooking techniques
Not all cooking methods are created equal. Slow-roasting, for example, uses significantly more electricity than flash-frying, boiling or steaming a meal. Try to cook your food as quickly as possible and incorporate fresh and raw produce into your daily menu if possible.
Using energy-efficient cooking appliances can also reduce your carbon foodprint considerably and create a greener home. Gas stoves and magnetic induction plates are both great options. https://ourgoodbrands.com/eco-friendly-appliances-energy-efficient-household/
Small Changes Make Big Differences
There are so many small changes we can make in our lives to reduce our carbon foodprints, and give our earth a chance to heal. Many of them require minimal effort, and instead of being expensive, could prove to be even more cost-effective than our current approaches.
You can significantly reduce your personal carbon footprint impact on the planet by simple changes in your habits such as: reducing your travel and choosing smarter transportation options, growing a garden, and repurposing used items to divert them from landfills.
The future is in your hands. Make it a green one.