As Mother Nature continues to remind us that we can’t fool her, or abuse her, actions we take on Earth Day (and every day) to live more sustainably are even more important. It will take everyone’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and reduce climate change, pollution, and improve environmental literacy. Saving the planet shouldn’t be political but it is; instead it should be about making the earth a better place for our kids and grandkids.
My earlier post on this topic gives you some great hands-on tips to teach your kids how to better take care of their planet to celebrate Earth Day. Today I reach out to some other colleagues to get their best tips on how to tackle food waste, sustainable living and more.
Cook with Seasonal Ingredients. She says seasonal ingredients are usually fresher, require less transport time [using less energy] and thus have more nutrients. To shop more seasonally, shop produce that’s on sale at the grocery store and utilize your local farmer’s market. Consider supporting a local farmer’s coop to eat more sustainably. To find local food sources and community supported agriculture organizations in your area, go to this USDA website.
Swap Common Kitchen Items with a Reusable Version
- Paper towels: “We use more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels each year, according to Ashley, “manufacturing these paper towels is one of the leading causes of global warming.” At our house, we use cotton towels—a separate one for hands and drying dishes. Reusable sponges are also a great way to safe on disposable towels. This is one of the easiest habits to change for Earth Day (and every day.)
- Plastic wrap: “Beeswax wrap has become a popular, sustainable alternative over the past few years. It comes in a variety of patterns and sizes and, when cared for and used properly, can be reused for up to a year! ” Last year I got stretchable silicone covers to put over bowls, cans, baking dishes etc. They are awesome! Now they can be found all over amazon.com, but I really like the products from www.netzerocompany.com.
Raise your hand if you threw out food in the last week. I’m guilty too but thankfully it was minimal—a moldy grapefruit that we kept too long in the pantry when it was getting too warm in there. I know I’m not alone here.
Here are a few of my favorite tips from Judy’s post How to Reduce Food Waste at Home: 60 solutions and tips [free grocery list]:
Food for Thought on Earth Day:
According to Judy Barber RDN of www.LiveBest.com, Consumers throw out 20% of the food they buy and food trash is the largest chunk of waste in American trash.
- Her top shopping tip is to shop your kitchen first to see what you have rather than what you want. Then shop with a grocery list. How many times have I bought avocados only to find there’s some hidden in the produce drawer?
- Post an “eat first” sticky note on foods you need to eat soon.
- Add leftover chopped veggies to hummus, quesadillas, pizza, tacos, frittatas and omelets.
Using Food Scraps is a Great Way to Reduce Food Waste
I know this is an issue for many people who have great intentions for eating more produce, (present company included) but some of it spoils before we can use it. Colleen Woods over at Zest Nutrition Service has five great tips on her post How to Reduce Food Waste This Week. Her first one is the most important and that is Plan Your Meals for One Week. Planning is the key to both having a healthy diet and living greener and a great first goal for Earth Day! More of my favorites:
If you’re at the end of orange season, Colleen suggests you dry the oranges you might otherwise throw out, into potpourri.
Did you know you can also pickle watermelon rinds?
Katie Mumford MS, RDN, author and blogger at momskitchenhandbook.com, says the average family loses nearly $1500 a year on food waste. Yikes! I think we could all find better ways to spend that cash. Here are some of her tips from 10 Ways to Stop Food Waste, Save Money and Help the Planet. I also love her post 12 Steps to a Greener Kitchen—with tips like drink from the tap, use second-hand shops for kitchen ware, carbonate at home with a Soda Stream of similar and unplug appliances when not in use to reduce your carbon foot print.
- Get Creative. She writes, “using what you have is getting creative with ingredients. Who says you can’t make chili with chick peas or muffins with raspberries instead of blueberries?”
- Store Food Smart. Katie recommends labeling everything you freeze, with the name and the date. She says you think you’ll remember but if you’re anything like me, you won’t. So true! Recently hubby and I took something out of the freezer that wasn’t labeled. We took wild guesses as to what it was but were totally wrong. Labeling is the key!
- When You Eat Out, Share. It’s true that restaurants often brag about their super-sized entrees. Sharing the entrée and ordering another side veggie or salad ups your veggie intake. Our family takes it one step further—we keep containers in the car to take our leftovers home in. You use less Styrofoam and plastic and you’ve got another meal for another day. Another win for Earth Day (and your waistline!)
Speaking of Eating Out…
- Choose the restaurant based on their sustainability practices. Read Yelp reviews and see if there are any related comments there. There is also an app called PlasticScore Zero Waste Dining, which is a crowdsourced zero waste rating for restaurants. The company uses the data to help restaurants improve. This is a great way to support restaurants that practice sustainability.
- Say no thank you to the plastic utensils, straws and single-serve condiments. Just politely make this request when you are ordering, or you can kindly refuse it when you arrive to pick up your order.
Last but not least, Christine Milmine RDN owner of www.plantpoweredyou.com has this tip, which is a common tip for eating more sustainably:
Consider adding some legumes to the menu as a protein source! Legumes are generally accepted as a more eco-friendly source of protein than meat. Luckily, they are also often inexpensive and easy to find as well. There are so many ways you can add in legumes, so get creative with soups, chili, curries, and more!
“Our planet is headed for disaster. We need to learn how to work with nature, rather than against it.” – David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet (Netflix documentary)
Choose Healthier Fast Food!
Need grab-n-go with a side of healthy? Grab our fast food guide to help you navigate the drive-thru!