Living sustainably has become synonymous with our survival on this planet and thus needs concerted action on part of every individual. To make sustainable living our goal, we must change our lifestyle. Limiting the use of the Earth’s natural resources and reducing our carbon footprint by adopting a conservationist attitude are primary to sustainable living. Eating sustainably is an important component of this exercise.
This article will give you some simple and doable ideas to cultivate sustainable eating habits.
Choose a more plant-based diet
Eating vegetables is not only healthier but can have a positive impact on the environment. Raising animals for meat products entails the use of massive amounts of land, food, energy and water. In fact, 51% or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to a Worldwatch Institute report. In comparison, growing plants involves a minuscule carbon footprint, causing much lesser damage to the environment.
Eat home-cooked food
Eating home-cooked food can be a major step towards sustainable and healthy eating. By cooking at home you are in total control of what you eat: i) The source and quality of the ingredients; ii) the level of hygiene of the elements involved in the process — the pots and pans, the ingredients, water used for cooking and finally even the person cooking the food. While eating out or buying processed / frozen food can be very convenient, one ends up paying a lot more money for food which is nutritionally quite inferior to home-made food. Moreover, ready-to-eat food puts a lot more strain on our environment by using up resources in packaging, transportation etc creating a needless footprint. Advertising further adds to the cost.
Read about the health benefits of cooking in clay pots.
Buy local and seasonal foods
Source your ingredients from the local markets like the weekly farmer’s markets or the local green grocer who buys from the local farmers. Also, choose seasonal fruits and vegetables, which are available in abundance and therefore always fresh. This way you end up eating food which is tasty and healthy too. Importantly, you are supporting the local farmers who work hard on their farms instead of the big companies involved in industrialized agriculture that buy produce from one end of the world, store it for days, process it, package it and then transport it thousands of miles away to sell at exorbitant prices.
Grow a small garden
Learn to grow some herbs and vegetables at home. Begin with as little as one pot and as you experience the joy of picking and eating what you have grown yourself, you will soon find yourself getting addicted to it. All you need is a sizeable container, potting soil and a patch of sunlight. If you live in a community, then create a small vegetable garden with the help of other members. It is a great way of connecting and staying fruitfully engaged!
Avoid using plastics
The use of plastic is unhealthy because it leaches dangerous toxins into the food and water stored therein. Just keep the plastic away — whether it is bottled drinking water, storing and re-heating food, or eating and drinking from containers. The detrimental effects of plastics on the environment are also well known. So what are we waiting for? Say NO to plastic.
Follow the three Rs
Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. Reduce your kitchen waste by buying sensibly. Use reusable bags, non-plastic containers, and cloth napkins instead of disposable ones. Recycle your kitchen waste by converting it into compost. Use the compost in your kitchen garden. In this manner you will not only minimize the waste generated, you will turn it into nourishing food for your plants.
Learn from the cherry blossom tree
We must all, as responsible members of this planet, make conscious efforts to follow a sustainable lifestyle. William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their seminal work on sustainability titled Cradle to Cradle cite the example of the Cherry Blossom Tree to make their point. The tree provides a perfect example of what we can learn from nature. Everything that falls from the tree is used up and nothing is wasted. “Consider the cherry tree: thousands of blossoms create fruit for birds, humans, and other animals, in order that one pit might eventually fall onto the ground, take root, and grow,” Braungart and McDonough write. Thus, the tree produces a lot more than it actually needs for its survival in the ecosystem. But the abundance serves many varied, useful purposes nourishing everything around it. The important message that the tree seems to be giving is: Waste equals food. Let us all try to follow the example of the cherry blossom tree.