If you think about life, so much of what we do involves food. Most of us eat at least three meals a day, and so many of our social functions centre around eating. So it makes sense that one of the most important ways that we can all be living a more eco conscious green lifestyle is in the kitchen. I have some Green Food Tips to get you started.
With environmental, health and economic considerations weighing in on our food choices, I thought it would be helpful to offer some simple suggestions on how to Go Green With Food – both at home, and when we eat out. This way, we can all look after our health, protect the environment, and save money.
“Going Green” doesn’t have to hijack the fun out of food; and you don’t have to overhaul your entire life overnight. The best strategy is to make small simple changes in a gradual way. Once you have made one change, it is easier to transition other things in your household, and so on. Before you know it, you have made significant changes that really make a difference.
I don’t know about you. but walking in the shoes of the next generation for just a minute makes me want to reduce my carbon footprint and coat check the consumer princess in me in favour of a more mindful approach to life.
This list of green food tips is by no means exhaustive. I am open to suggestions from our community on how we can expand on these ideas in order to all enjoy delicious healthy food, whilst being more responsible stewards of the earth.
Going Green With Food
Buy Local, Grow Your Own Food or Join Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Programs
The amount of green house gas that is created getting food from farm to table when it is flown, shipped or driven in can be staggering. Whenever possible, buy from local sources. Shopping directly from farmers or at markets supports our local economy and ensures we get the freshest produce possible. More often than not, the produce on offer at grocery store chains has sat in containers for weeks.
The best way to reduce your environmental footprint and procure fresh food is to grow your own. You can do this in yards, gardens, balconies or window sills. Alternatively, you could also share a plot in a local community garden.
There is also Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSA). To find out more about this option head to Local Harvest. Over the last decade, CSA has become a great way for people to buy seasonal food directly from their local farmers.
Here’s how it works: a farmer offers “shares” or “subscriptions” to public consumers. Every week the members receive a box of seasonal produce. Sometimes, other farm products like milk, eggs and grains may be offered. Search for local initiatives in your area. These programs are absolutely fantastic. Buying locally and growing your own produce also reduces the amount of packaging being used.
Eat More Vegetarian, Vegan and Raw Foods
Becoming a vegetarian is one of the greatest things you can do to be more green. But if you do not have the inclination to be vegan, you can include more vegetarian options in your meal planning.
Diets based predominantly on plant foods not only promote good health and reduce our risk of disease, they have less impact on the environment, and can be easier on our piggy banks.
Start by having at least one less meat-based meal a week. Then increase your vegetarian meals.
We can help our food shortages and feed more people by consuming less meat. Did you know that about 40% of the world’s grain is used to feed animals for meat and production? The production of animal foods, particularly beef, uses huge amounts of resources.
Save water and trees too! Did you know that it takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef? Also, for each little hamburger made from animals raised on rainforest land about 55 square feet of forest have to be destroyed.
By eating more whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, you will be getting more essential vitamins and nutrients required for optimum health and vitality. Furthermore, eating more raw foods reduces energy consumption and packaging. It also saves money.
Get Into Composting
Instead of putting your food waste in the trash or down the garbage disposal, get into composting. This is a fantastic way to use things like apple cores, fruit and vegetable peels, egg shells, and other natural waste to add nutrients to your soil and fertilizer, and assist in growing healthier plants for future food! The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources and Conservation Service has a great information sheet about how to start composting.
If you are passionate gardener, you can also add compost to mulch. Mulching helps the environment by preventing erosion, and conserving moisture in your plants, which reduces the amount of watering required.
Use Natural Kitchen Cleaning Products
Toxic dish washing liquids and counter top cleaners that get rinsed down our drains, deposited into our landfills, or inhaled and ingested with our foods often contain chemicals that are harmful to you and the environment.
Choose eco-friendly cleaners made out of natural ingredients that are just as effective as the harsh toxins. I like the Seventh Generation products.
You can also make your own food-grade cleaning products. I like using vinegar, baking soda, tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil.
Carry Your Own Reusable Bags When Grocery Shopping
Fantastic, stylish reusable bags are widely available now. I always have a variety of reusable bags at my front door and in the trunk of my car. Brining your own bags reduces the amount of plastic and paper bags that are being used. Let’s reduce the more than 500 billion plastic bags that are polluting our oceans, and subsequently, our food chain.
Make sure you purchase good quality cloth bags that can be washed. Spending a bit of extra money will ensure your bag lasts. Reusable bags are becoming a huge cause of landfill. So invest in quality, and wash your bags on a regular basis. Dirty bags can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
Rethink Bagging Produce
There is no need to bag fruit and vegetables like bananas, citrus fruits and avocados with thick skins before placing them in your grocery cart. I actually don’t put any of my produce in plastic bags. I place them directly in my cloth bags. Just give your produce a good wash before you eat it, and make sure you wash your reusable bags on a regular basis.
Recycle and Reuse Your Containers
Please recycle your paper, glass and aluminum containers. Recycled glass reduces air pollution and water pollution. It also saves on the fuel it takes to make glass from virgin materials. Glass placed in landfill can take up to a million years to decompose. Recycled papers are used to make all kinds of fantastic products now.
Better still, reuse your glass containers. I wash and steralize glass jars from nut butters, jams, jellies, and salad dressings and use them to store other foods in my pantry. They are also great for homemade preserves and pickles., or for storing art supplies like buttons and screws. Plastic containers are wonderful to store crayons, pencils, and small toys for children.
Take Up Canning
By learning how to jar seasonal fruits and vegetables, you can enjoy a variety of delicious produce all year round. I love making home made tomato sauces, pickles, preserves and soups. Canning your own produce also reduces the environmental strain that comes from consuming packaged items that have been shipped in from all over the world.
Buy Staples in Bulk and Take Your Own Containers
One step beyond recycling is to reduce the amount of packaging you consume.
One way to do this is to buy fresh foods from markets and bulk containers at health food stores. I take my own containers to the store and fill them up with my raw nuts, seeds and grains. I also purchase liquids like olive oil, agave, cleaning and body products this way. Not only is it cheaper, it reduces the excessive packaging. Some commercial goods are placed in a sealed plastic bag, that is then placed in a box, that is then covered in more plastic! By buying in bulk, you reduce this excessive consumption.
Stop Buying Bottles Water and Fill up Reusable Canteens
Plastic water bottles are one of the biggest causes of landfill. Almost 90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled. These bottles take thousands of years to decompose. Not only is bottled water expensive, the plastic can also leach toxins into your water. Buying a reusable steel canteen or glass container and filling it up with filtered tap water is a responsible choice for the environment, a savvy choice for your piggy bank, and possibly your health.
Did you know that the EPA’s standards for tap water are more stringent than the FDA’s guidelines for bottled water? Food for thought. My favourite glass bottle for adults are made by Life Factory. For fantastic shatter-resistant glass baby bottles check out 5 Phases.
Carry Your Own Cups For Coffee, Tea and Cold Beverages
Think about the millions of disposable cups that are used for takeaway drinks all over the world. For that morning cup of coffee or tea or afternoon soft drink carry your own ceramic, stainless steel, or glass cups. Vendors will happily fill up your cup and often offer a discount in exchange!
These insulated containers keep your coffee and tea hotter and drinks cooler for longer too. A win for you, and a win for the environment.
Rethink the Stirrer or Straw
Every year, Americans throw away about 138 billion straws and stirrers. Here’s a great tip: put your cream and sugar in the cup first, and then pour in your coffee or tea to mix it.
Say No to Extra TakeAway Condiments
Do you need ten packets of ketchup and mustard or sweetener at the take out window? Only accept what you will use. Do your part to reduce the millions of sachets being tossed into landfill each year.
Use Matches Instead of Lighters
Most lighters are made out of plastic and filled with butane fuel, which are both petroleum based products. Furthermore, millions of “disposable” lighters are thrown into landfills every year. Reduce this consumption and waste by using matches. Always pick cardboard matches that are made with recycled paper. Wood matches are made from trees.
Use Cloth Napkins and Dish Towels instead of Paper
Each year, the average American uses over 2,000 paper napkins! Over a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills in the United States if we all used just one less paper napkin a day.
Use cloth napkins and rags to clean at home instead of paper towels.
Carry Your Own Flatware
I carry my own flatware in my bag and keep a set in my car when I am eating at take away establishments where they only offer plastic tableware. To Go Ware has some fantastic stylish bamboo flatware.
Here’s another great idea to reduce to reduce disposable dinnerware: Next time you are having a party, use a marker so guests know which cup is theirs in between the drinks and fun!
Unplug appliances you don’t use all the time. This will significantly reduce your energy consumption, reduce those black balloons, and save you money on your power bills.
Share The Green Love!
In the words of Maya Angelou, “When you Learn, Teach.” Share this list, and any other green ideas with your friends and family. The more everyone talks about going green, the more people will listen, learn, and start making a contribution.
We all eat. We can all make a difference and Go Green With Food!
Please share this link on your Facebook and Twitter profile and make your friends Green With Envy. Encourage everyone you know to GO GREEN WITH FOOD.
Join the healthy food conversation on my Facebook Page.
For delicious easy healthy green recipes check out my recipe blog, Healthy Blender Recipes.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Tess Masters, a.k.a The Blender Girl is an actor, presenter, voice over artist, cook and writer. She writes a quirky food blog, Healthy Blender Recipes, sharing quick easy allergy free gluten free vegetarian recipes with whole foods. Tess writes the eco food blog for Go Green America TV and is a regular contributor to The Balanced Platter. She and her recipes have been featured on Chow.com, Epicurious.com, Glamour.com, and the LA Times, as well as countless websites and blogs around the world. Tess resides in Los Angeles, California with her partner and their dog, Cookie.
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