Updated: Apr 20
Easy tips for low-impact living that you can start today
As we start to become more mindful and intentional about the choices we make for our health, we may find that we are also starting to think more about the impact we have on the planet. Our new mindset may lead us to wanting to learn about how we can lessen our environmental footprint and live a more sustainable lifestyle, or we may want to build off of what we are already doing in order to help ourselves and the planet.
There are many things we can do to reduce our overall environmental footprint, especially when it comes to our food choices. Eating primarily plant-based is a great way to reduce your impact and help the environment. Like with all things, however, it is important to keep in mind that not every adjustment is going to feel right for everyone. Because of this, you can choose whichever tips fit best into your lifestyle, and as always, remember that even small changes can create meaningful and long-lasting effects.
♻ Shop locally - shopping locally is a great way to lower your environmental footprint because it lessens all the travel that our food normally has to go through (whether this is via plane, truck, or even boat). When possible, look to buy local products at a farmer’s market, co-op, or grocery store in your area. Shopping locally also usually promotes eating in alignment with the seasons, which is beneficial to the the planet and also helpful for our health. If you are interested in seeing how far the foods you are eating normally travel, I have attached a link below that calculates this for specific foods you have in your home. Having the actual numbers in front of us can help us see the real impact of our foods on the environment, and motivate us to shop locally when we can.
Food miles calculator: https://www.foodmiles.com/more.cfm
♻ Consider reusable bags - having our own reusable bags for trips to the grocery store is a nice way to avoid bringing home plastic (or paper) bags every time we go to buy food. Using smaller reusable bags for produce and bulk items can also be a great alternative to the typical plastic produce bags found at almost all grocery stores. I have attached links to the reusable grocery bags and produce bags I have found to be the most useful, but of course you can feel free to choose whichever ones work best for you (or use what you already have at home). If you are purchasing produce bags, I recommend cotton reusable produce bags (such as the ones in the link below) because they can be used for not only fruits and veggies, but also for buying products in bulk such as oats, quinoa, rice, etc..
Reusable grocery bags: etsy reusable bags
Reusable produce bags: etsy produce bags
♻ Use your food scraps- whether it is last night’s leftovers, or skins of a vegetable, there are many different ways we can avoid throwing away food scraps. Incorporating leftovers into our meal plans or bringing them to work for lunch the next day is a great way to avoid leaving them in the fridge for a few days before eventually throwing them out (which I have found myself doing multiple times). We can also use parts of veggies we don’t normally eat (or the veggies that are going bad) to make our own homemade vegetable stock. For more information on how to make your own veggie stock, check out the recipe below:
Homemade veggie stocks from scraps: homemade veggie stock
♻ Look into meal planning- knowing what we are going to eat during the week, and buying groceries accordingly, can greatly help in reducing food waste. Before meal planning, consider looking at what you already have in your fridge and pantry that could possibly be used in a recipe that upcoming week. Not only can this help you save money on your grocery trip, but it can also allow you to use up the food items you already have in your home before they expire. And, as mentioned in the previous tip, making room for leftovers in our meal plan is another great way to limit our food waste.
♻ Consider compost- depending on where you live, compost might be a practical way of avoiding food waste in your home. Composting allows us to use parts of foods and drinks we would not normally eat, such as banana peels, veggies scraps, or even coffee grounds, and return them to the earth in a sustainable and healthy way. If you are living in an apartment, compost can be a bit more complicated than when living in a home with a backyard. However, if you don’t have access to to a place where you can compost, but this is still something that interests you, compost bins can be purchased, kept in the home, and then brought to a nearby compost drop-off. For more information on how to compost, please see the link below:
Composting information: EPA composting