Do you want to eat more sustainably but are not ready for a dramatic lifestyle change? You don’t have to make a dramatic change to start making a difference!
Here are a few easy lifestyle tweaks you can make to eat more sustainably. Many of these tweaks will also lower the cost of your groceries.
1. Buy in bulk to reduce food packaging
Not ready to give up conveniently packaged items? You can still reduce your packaging waste (and grocery costs) by buying in bulk.
An example of a bulk purchase is to buy a 32 oz ketchup bottle instead of two 14 oz ketchup bottles. Additional products you can buy in bulk include grains, legumes, dried fruit, sauces and dressings, canned and jarred foods, and frozen foods.
In addition, always look for brands that use recycled or sustainable packaging.
2. Bring reusable canvas bags for groceries
This is an easy one and very common! Instead of using the store-provided plastic or paper bags for groceries, bring reusable canvas bags from home.
3. Purchase in season produce
When produce is not in season in your region, it has traveled many miles to reach you from where it is in season. Therefore, buying seasonal produce helps you eat locally and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Not sure what produce is in season? The USDA provides a list here. You can also shop at farmer’s markets to eat locally and seasonally.
A bonus to this eating habit is it will save you money since seasonal food in high supply is lower in cost.
4. Look on labels for sustainable certifications
Patronize sustainable companies by looking for third-party sustainability certifications on the label of food products. Common, trusted third-party certifications include:
Fair Trade Certified. In addition to protecting the environment, sustainability is about protecting social and economic health. This certification means the company uses fair labor practices.
Rainforest Alliance Certified. Certifies that food was grown in an environmentally responsible way and used fair labor practices.
Food Alliance Certification. This certification ensures fair labor practices, humane animal treatment, and environmentally responsible practices.
5. Meal plan to reduce food waste
RTS summarizes that Americans waste 30-40% of the US food supply and explains that its equivalent to every American sending 219 pounds or 650 average-size apples to landfills annually!
Food waste at home is often due to food not being used before it goes bad. You can reduce this by meal planning regularly.
Meal planning helps you only buy what you need and gives you a plan for everything you purchase. That way, food doesn’t go unused in your refrigerator. Read my tips for making meal planning easy here.
6. Choose plant-based meals more often
The UN reports that 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions come from raising livestock, which includes methane, a gas more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.
That’s why plant-based is an environmentally friendly eating pattern. Wherever you are on the plant-based diet spectrum, take another step towards plant-based eating by adding 2-3 vegetarian meals per week to your diet.
Plant-based diets are also healthier for you and can reduce your grocery bill by one-third!