Organic: been there, eaten that. Now what?
I have no doubt by now that you’ve been bombarded with persuasive arguments as to why you should be eating organic foods. If you’re not currently living on planet Earth, maybe you’ve missed the reasons – but don’t fret, check out An In Depth Look at Organic.
However, the complexities of our food choices and carbon footprints cannot be easily packaged into ‘choose organic foods’. There are a variety of other food-related factors that effect our environment other than agriculture and farming.
A fun online tool, Carbon Footprint Calculator, helps individuals find ways, based on personal habits and preferences, to reduce pollution and waste – though I can’t attest to it’s accuracy. Whether or not you’re choosing organic foods, here are a few other ideas that will help reduce your carbon footprint.
- Consider the amount of packaging. Choose loose vegetables instead of those wrapped in plastic. And do you really need all the individual produce bags? Probably not. And while we’re on the subject, keep at least 1 reusable, folding tote bag with you so when you find yourself running a last minute errand, you don’t need paper or plastic.
- Don’t buy bottled water. For multiple reasons, including the amount of transportation and packaging it requires, bottled water is not worth the price! Water is free and clean in the US, so finding a decent tap source shouldn’t be too hard. Carry a BPA-free bottle (or gel bag) with you so you stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Compost. Don’t throw food away! Some studies suggest that up to 1/3 of the food we purchase is wasted. When you throw food in the garbage, it adds to the weight of the truck hauling it and takes up space in landfills with non-biodegradable waste, essentially rendering it useless. Instead, create a compost bin and turn excess food into nutrient-rich soil.
- Use fresh foods rather than frozen. The cost of packaging, freezing, transporting (in cold storage trucks), and reheating frozen foods is enormous. Though having frozen foods on-hand is great for a quick meal in a pinch, don’t buy pre-packaged frozen foods. Instead, freeze homemade leftovers in reusable, airtight containers (plus, the meal will probably be healthier, too)!
- Become more politically involved. More than ever, people are rallying to change agricultural subsidies, reduce conventional farming, and make it easier for institutions (like schools) to source locally. Though political involvement is an indirect way to reduce your carbon footprint, there is strength in numbers! If enough people put in the time and effort to voice opinions to local politicians, major changes could made to policies and the effects could greatly outweigh that of any individual.