As promised in last week’s “5 Reasons You Should Care About Eating Sustainably,” I have come up with a list of 10 easy tactics for eating more sustainably. You don’t have to start growing all of your own food or buy strictly organic or anything like that. These are all small lifestyle changes that really do make a difference.
Try picking 1 or 2 to focus on for a few weeks and then once they’ve become habits, try out a few more!
10 way to eat more sustainably
1. Regrow vegetables from scraps! All you need is water.
This is an awesome way to make your lettuce and spring onions last longer. Super easy, no upkeep, and no green thumb required! See the basic how to here.
2. Eat seasonally.
People make a big hooplah about eating locally, and I believed it for a long time. But it turns out that eating seasonally is WAY more impactful than eating locally. Of course it’s still ideal to support your local farmers, but instead of preaching the locavore movement, shift your focus to the eat seasonal movement. Check out these seasonality charts to start eating seasonally.
3. Use reusable bags/minimal packaging.
My personal favorite are the Trader Joe’s bags, but really any reusable bag will work for carrying your groceries home. Also, avoid using the plastic produce bags at grocery stores if possible—9 times out of 10 you really don’t need them. Or, you can bring your own reusable containers/bags, like this Berlin grocery store makes all of its customers do.
4. Bulk cook.
If you’re going to have the oven on, you might as well fill it up and make the most of the energy you’re using! Same goes for things like grilling meats—if you’re turning the grill on, make enough burgers or grilled chicken to last you a few days instead of just for that night. Bulk cooking will end up saving (literal) energy and time.
30-40% of all food goes to waste, and the vast majority of that can be composted. When I started composting, I was amazed and how much less waste I was producing! My trashcan now takes forever to fill up. And you don’t have to start your own compost bin at home, you just have to find a place to drop off your compostable goods! All of the Greenmarkets in NYC have Food Scrap Collection bins, which is where I drop mine off every week. Do a little research and you’ll find a local place to drop it off, or you might even find a compost pick-up service like Compost Wheels in Atlanta! Pro-tip: keep a bag in your freezer with all of your food scraps to prevent it from stinking up your kitchen.
6. Find other uses for your overripe fruit.
Admittedly I have let a number of bananas, peaches and avocadoes get too ripe, and I’m sure you have too. But don’t be so quick to toss them out! There are tons of ways to salvage them and make something delicious! I’ll also add that it’s a good idea to wash, cut and freeze them for future use in smoothies or other recipes.
7. Cook with every part of the vegetable/animal.
This goes hand in hand with my points about composting and finding uses for overripe fruit. Buying beets with the stems attached? Cook the greens and stems too! Buying a whole chicken to roast? Use the carcass to make bone broth! Afraid of organ meats? Don’t be a sissy. There are so many amazing ways to enjoy animals from nose to tail. If you’re new to organ meats, try this Bangin’ Liver recipe or this Chicken Liver Pâté recipe!
8. Buy aqua/hydroponic vegetables.
Hydroponic and aquaponic gardening/farming require significantly fewer resources (less land, water, fertilizer, pesticides and fossil fuels) than conventional farming. This is extremely beneficial to the environment for obvious reasons. Plus, at least according to my humble taste buds, hydroponic lettuces and herbs taste better.
9. Preserve the harvest.
While produce is in season, stock up, can it, dehydrate it, freeze it, ferment it, you get the picture! This way you won’t pay a fortune for strawberries when you get a craving in the middle of winter, AND you won’t be supporting the unsustainable farms that use inordinate amounts of resources just to squeak out a few strawberries when they’re out of season.
10. Research what grows well in your region and eat more of that.
I think this should be the new “eat local” agenda. Different climates and ecologies are conducive to different type of agriculture and livestock production. It’s extremely context dependent, so do your research!! For instance, this study at Cornell showed that in New York state a diet that included some meat and dairy was more sustainable than a vegetarian diet. Take THAT righteous vegetarians! 😛