If you’ve seen the latest news about climate change and want to help, but don’t know where to start, here are some ideas for you.
Climate change is such a BIG problem that it’s hard to believe any one of us can individually make a difference. Can you relate?
But you CAN make a big difference! Let me tell you why.
First, let’s look at a few high-level statistics.
- 40% of food in the US is wasted, which is 400lbs of food per person each year!! (NRDC)
- 20% of US methane emissions come from landfill, and 22% of landfill is made up of food waste (EPA)
- 9% of US emissions are from agriculture alone, not including deforestation to make new farmland, food transportation and food waste (EPA)
- Globally, food is the #1 cause of climate change (Drawdown)
Everyone has to eat, so doing something on an individual level is the perfect place to start.
Make an impact with food
There are lots of ways to reduce your impact with food. It’s just a matter of what makes sense for YOU. And you don’t have to change everything at once. Start by choosing 1 or 2 things to begin with and go from there.
If you try something and it doesn’t work as well as you had hoped, try something else! Doing something is much better than nothing, and you never know how successful you’ll be until you. just. try.
In order of effectiveness, here are the ways you can reduce your environmental impact with food, along with a few ideas for each. I encourage you to pick out 1-2 things to do this week, then 1-2 more next week, and 1-2 more the next… Until you feel happy with your amazing new sustainable lifestyle 🙂
NOTE: For the sake of the length of this post, I’m keeping these tips super high-level. I’ll write more in-depth posts about each of these very soon.
- Reduce food waste
- Start by noticing what foods you throw out. Can you buy less of them or figure out how to use them before they go bad?
- Make a daily or weekly habit of looking in your fridge and cupboards to see what food you need to use before it goes bad (Set a reminder in your phone if you have to!)
- Reconsider buying in bulk (People who shop at bulk warehouse stores waste 30% of what they buy (FastCompany). That’s so much money and food in the trash!!)
- Shop more frequently and buy less rather than making large grocery hauls
- Dedicate 1-2 nights per week to dinner with food you would have otherwise wasted
- Make soup, salad, rice bowls, tacos, or pasta with whatever is about to become past its prime
- Make broth/stock with used bones
- Use restaurant/takeout leftovers to make another of the same/similar meal
- Freeze food for later use
- Pickle and preserve
- Eat more plants (and less animal protein)
- Start by subbing 1 meal per week or 1 meal per day with a plant-based alternative such as tofu, tempeh, or beans
- Participate in Meatless Mondays!
- Cook plant-based at home and eat meat only when you go out to restaurants
- If you live in a house, check out a backyard composting bin or system
- If you’re in an apartment, search for an apartment composting system
- Depending on where you live, you may be able to sign up for a service where someone will pick up your compost
- All of the above is a short Google search away
Personally, for my lifestyle, I’m choosing to focus on reducing food waste and eating less meat before I tackle composting. If you’re ready to dive right in, I recommend checking out Going Zero Waste’s guides to composting:
Guide to Backyard Composting
Guide to Apartment Composting
- Buy from sustainable producers
- Start by buying organic whenever you can
- Shop at your local co-op
- Go to the farmers market
- Get the Seafood Watch app to help you know what to buy and to find stores and restaurants near you that have seafood on their list
- Buy foods with sustainable certifications, such as Animal Welfare Approved, Non-GMO Project, Soil Association, Good Food Awards, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, and many others (I’ll be doing a post on which ones are best and where to look for them at a later date)
- Forage from your neighbor’s yards (Check out https://fallingfruit.org/ to find a neighbor near you who has something for you to pick)
- Go hunting, fishing, and foraging in nature
There’s a lot to look for when finding a producer/farmer that truly practices sustainability, and this information can be nearly impossible to find. I’ll be sleuthing in the future to find the answers. In the meantime, the above tips are a good place to start.
So while you think you may not be able to make a difference, yes, yes you can! I myself just started to make some of these changes in my own life and can’t believe how easy it has been. I only wish I had started sooner.
Hopefully, you looked at those lists above and thought, “I can definitely do that!” to at least a few things.
As we start to make positive changes in our lives, we share with our friends and family. Then they start to make positive changes and pass it along to those they know.
Pretty soon, these positive changes snowball and become bigger than ourselves, but it all starts with us.