One way to eat more sustainably is to buy foods that have reduced packaging, no packaging or packaging that is biodegradable. Often food bought in supermarkets is packaged in large amounts of unnecessary plastic. Plastic which is often not even recyclable. Put your fresh fruit and veg loose in the trolley (and obviously wash them when you go home) or bring reusable fruit and veg bags rather than buying prepackaged or using the shops plastic bags. If you do have to buy packaged foods, try to buy food in biodegradable packaging which can go in your brown bin or can at least be recycled. Zero waste shops and refill stations in shops have also become more popular over the last couple of years. One of my favourites is The Good Neighbour (located in Dundrum and Terenure) where you bring your own containers and fill them with the foods you want, eliminating the need for any packaging.
As discussed in a previous post, food waste is accountable for over 10% of all carbon emissions. A simple way to reduce this is to reduce the amount of food we waste. Only buy the food that you need and you know you will use. If you see food in your fridge that is going to go off soon, find a way to use it or try and freeze it rather than it going in the bin.
Eat Fruits and Vegetables in Season
Ever wonder how you get strawberries all year round but they are only in season a couple of months of the year? Thats because either artificial methods are used to grow them out of season or we import them from other countries. Foods that are in season are generally local and therefore transport of the food is minimal and less chemicals are needed to grow it.
Eating Fresh Foods over Processed
One of the reasons eating fresh foods rather than processed foods is more sustainable is that fresh foods such as fruit and veg often come without any packaging. Whereas almost all processed foods come packaged. Another reason is that fresh foods often come from local farms or surrounding areas. Processed foods are often made in large factories and can be anywhere is the world meaning that the product has to be transported, sometimes great lengths in order to get it to your local supermarket. Eating fresh foods reduces the carbon emissions caused by the transport of food.
Eating Irish (or food from where you live) helps to reduce fuel and carbon emissions as the food doesn’t need to be transported as far and it helps with eating seasonally. It also helps to support Irish farmers and companies. The more successful Irish companies and farmers are, the more money they have to spend on becoming more sustainable.
Eat Sustainably Sourced Foods
It’s important when buying food to make sure it is ethically and sustainably sourced. There is no point in becoming plant-based to help the earth if we’re consuming products that are contributing to deforestation and poor working conditions for people. For example, palm oil production is said to be responsible for at least 8% of deforestation. Other foods to be wary of are cocoa and avocados. There are plenty of plant-based companies that do source their foods and ingredients responsibly so opt for them rather than the alternatives.
Grow Your Own
One of the greatest joys you will ever have in life is growing your own food. Its very simple to do especially these days with shops like Lidl and Aldi providing everything you need to do it. It does require patience as its generally a few months before you’ll get anything from it but when you do, its worth it. It eliminates the use of chemicals and transport. Its also a great reminder of where our food comes from and its a good way to eat seasonally.
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables doesn’t seem like it would contribute much to the environment. However, most of the worlds food supply comes from just 12 plants meaning the variety of food being grown is very small. A lack of variety in agriculture is bad for biodiversity and is a threat to food security. By eating a wide variety of whole foods, we can ensure the protection of our planet’s biodiversity.