How to Eat and Shop More Sustainably

Earth Day has hopefully brought a rejuvenated passion to treat your planet right and boost your sustainability and earth-friendly actions. It can be so intimidating to consider going vegan, start using a composite or live life as a complete minimalist. But you can still give our planet some love without completely changing your lifestyle or your eating habits. In fact, there are plenty of baby steps we can all take in order to make a huge difference. What you’ve heard about using reusable bags and investing in cloth napkins, rather than paper, are also important steps to take. But, along with the beloved reduce, reuse and recycle, you can bring an environmentally-conscious mentality into your kitchen and, in turn, into your stomach.

Choose what you’re putting into your body.

This is a perfect first step into being eco-friendlier. Reduce your intake of red meat and increase the number of plants you have in your diet. A popular - highly untrue - fear amongst so many is that cutting out meat in your meals will get rid of any protein-based foods. In fact, so many plant sources are proven to be just as protein-rich as meats like chicken or beef, which many of us eat every single day. Just like any other habit, this mentality takes time. So be sure to double check what you’re cooking or the ingredients that might be in whatever you’re ordering.

Try out new things.

With this adjustment in your diet, hopefully, comes the expanded horizon of preferences and the bravery to try out some new foods. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and order a veggie burger or buy the organic option of cereal, rather than what you’re used to. This also comes with where you’re shopping and the options you have. Consider going to farmers markets or even just prioritizing the produce and organic sections on your trips to the grocery store. Knowing exactly where your food comes from and how it can help your body is a huge lesson to be learned with this adjustment.

Organic foods are the way to go.

There are certain fruits and veggies that you should definitely be purchasing organically, which are called the “dirty dozen.” Strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes have been tested positive for different pesticides than other produce. The “clean fifteen,” includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, eggplants, kiwis, cantaloupes, broccoli, along with more, which all have low concentrations of pesticides. These products are the ones you can feel safe buying without an organic label. The downfall to organic products is that they can get pricey, but if you pick and choose what you actually need, you’ll be helping yourself and the environment.

Courtesy: SteemIt

Only buy what you need.

When we throw food away, we are essentially tossing natural resources and money into the trash too. Think about how many times you throw away half a loaf of bread, a bag of salad, old bananas or expired dairy products. That food that you’re throwing away is excess waste, which you can combat by buying only what you will consume. This means we all have to be mindful when wandering through the sale section of the grocery stores; only take what you need. This correlates to the size of products that you’ll buy too. Count how many apples or bananas you actually eat per week and only grab that. Purchase the smaller container of milk or creamer if you only use it for cereal or coffee. Focus on what you’re eating and allow yourself to recognize what you’re putting into your body and how much of it you actually consume.

The average home wastes 30% of the food it buys. 20% of food that the average American buys is never eaten. The average American household throws away $2,200 of food each year. Food waste and the lack of education many Americans have is something that just feeds into these problems. Simple adjustments like meal planning, creating a shopping list, avoiding bulk purchases and getting educated on how simple actions can make such a big difference is where the change begins.

A lot of people don’t know how to react or don’t understand when they see videos like this one, taken from Netflix’s Our Planet (2019). Rather than feeling uncomfortable and scrolling past it, make a difference in your own life. Influence your friends and family to do the same because being environmentally-friendly is not a conspiracy and it’s not something to be ashamed of. It can take an extra second to adjust to and be mindful of, but it’s worth it. This Earth Day and from now on, learn more about how we can each take care of the planet that we call home.