You can’t fool mother nature. And if you try, mother nature always wins. Which is why on this Earth Day, we all need to do our part to reduce our carbon footprint. This can also help you be a healthier eater and save money on your food budget.
- Prevent Food Waste. Here’s a though provoking fact: each year 80 billion pounds of food is thrown away in the US. That’s equal to 1,000 Empire State Buildings, 219 pounds of waste per person and 30-40% of the whole US food supply. That adds up to $161 billion a year. WOW! And food is the single largest component in US landfills. Luckily, there’s plenty we can do to reduce food waste:
- Check these definitions of “sell by” and “use by” dates. These are confusing and often result in throwing away food that is still good. “Best if used by” describes quality “where the product may not taste or perform as expected but is safe to consume”; “Use by” applies to “the few products that are highly perishable and/or have food safety concern over time.”
- Plan meals and make a shopping list. Doing this will not only prevent you from over buying, but it can also save you money and help you eat more healthfully. The number one reason for getting take-out or drive-thru food is lack of planning. Planning meals around your schedule can enable you to do crockpot meals, cooking with leftovers in mind and using food prep to your advantage.
- Be thoughtful when eating out. Order what you can realistically eat, or share with your dining partner. Bring leftovers home, in your own container if possible. We started keeping a bag of refrigerator containers in the car so when we eat out, we have them. Did you know that doing this can not only cut food waste, but also help reduce the 150 million tons of single use containers that are tossed every year? Small habit changes can make a big difference!
- Eat More Plant Based Foods. Eating beans, lentils and tofu in place of some animal protein can help with the food budget and help reduce your carbon footprint. Beans and lentils are the perfect health food—high in fiber, protein and cheap! Beans also contain the type of fiber which can help control cholesterol and blood sugar. A quick and easy plant-based meal I turn to is a bean tostada. Baked tostada shells, canned fat-free refried beans, a sprinkle of cheese, and top with lettuce, tomato and avocado. A healthy dinner in minutes!
- Move away from plastics and disposables. There are many options to help you be an earth-friendly consumer:
- Wax coated wraps to use instead of plastic wrap. (www.beeswrap.com)
- Microwave covers instead of paper towels to prevent cooking splashes.
- Silicone stretch lids that stretch over bowls for storing leftovers. (And they are strong enough to stack things on top of!) https://www.eco-innova.com/products/zero-waste-lids
- Silicone zipper bags that are dishwasher-safe.
- Plastic reusable glasses instead of disposables at parties.
- Do More with Produce
- Blend combinations of leftover veggies for a creamy soup. Add cooked potatoes, milk, American cheese and chicken broth base to taste.
- Cooked vegetables are also tasty in a salad. Mix cooked green beans, peas, beans, carrots, asparagus and corn into a tossed salad or pasta salad. Or simply toss with vinaigrette.
- Grow your own produce. Spring is planting time and you just can’t beat the taste of fresh out-of-the-garden veggies! If you don’t have a yard, you can try container gardening! If you don’t feel quite up to a veggie garden, start with a windowsill herb garden; fresh herbs will add flavor to your cooking and perhaps cut down on leftovers!
- Compost! Start a compost bin so you can discard the peels, seeds and cores from fruits and veggies. Some cities have compost collection bins that you can contribute to via your weekly trash pickup.
Food Waste in America: https://www.rts.com/resources/guides/food-waste-america/
Calculate your Carbon Footprint: https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx
Calculate your Daily Consumption of Plastic: https://www.earthday.org/plastic-pollution-calculator-2/
Earth Day Tips: https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-tips/