a. of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.
b. of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods.
Currently, one of the most talked about topics is on being more sustainable, or incorporating sustainable practices into your lifestyle. Many out there are looking for tips on little changes (or huge steps). Not only is the focus on changing the way we impact our environment and the planet, but I’d like to delve into topics that will also create a more sustainable YOU, which means your health, your family, and your community.
I know the idea can sometimes be daunting, especially with not knowing where to start, or feeling like it’s an all-or-nothing endeavor. It’s not! It’s truly about balance. I always say, it takes as little as an apple a day to start seeing change.
Canvas bags. You see them everywhere now. They cost as little as $0.99 at your local grocery store (but even Target sells them!!), or you can shell out a little more for one of the super cute heavy duty bags (like the ones at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods). Personally, these are more fun to tote-around than either paper or plastic.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 5% of plastic bags are recycled. Plastic bags are not biodegradable, they are broken down into smaller particles by prolonged exposure to light which allows them to pollute our soils and contaminate our water. The Clean Air council stated that Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of unnecessary landfill waste. That said, take your tote-carrying to the next level and use them not only for grocery shopping but anywhere else you’re making purchases!
tips: keep your bags in the trunk of your car so that they are always handy(nothing is more frustrating than getting to the grocery store only to realize that you’ve forgotten your tote bags); or roll one up and throw it in your purse!
What’s your favorite bag to tote??
2. Farmer’s Markets
This is one of the easiest habits to adopt and contribute to sustainability (and your health!). You get fresh, in-season produce, brought to you directly by the people that have grown the food. Major bonus: you’re also contributing to your local economy.
Buying from local farmers eliminates the massive fossil fuel use that is associated with shipping food.
The Natural Resources Defense Council states that in “2005, the import of fruits, nuts, and vegetables into California by airplane released more than 70,000 tons of CO2, which is equivalent to more than 12,000 cars on the road”. The idea that California still finds it necessary to import food is almost unfathomable, considering it is the nation’s top producer of agricultural products and commodities, and ranks fifth on the world market (CDFA).
An apple locally sourced probably traveled about 61 miles, one conventionally sourced would have traveled 1,726 miles (LCSA). Those are a lot of food miles!source
One of the coolest and least thought about perks to buying local is supporting bio-diversity. Buying produce at your average grocery store is never the feast for your eyes that a farmer’s market can provide. Tomatoes are red and carrots are orange. period. But at your market you can literally eat a rainbow. Tomatoes and carrots (among other veggies) come in a multitude of colors. Besides being able to offer your plate a polychromatic punch of nutrients, heirlooms and other lesser known varieties are actually better for the environment. They are naturally more suited to grow in their respective environments and have spent hundreds of years naturally tweaking their genes for survival, these plants are the best contenders for organic farming. They are simply better equipped at fighting pests, diseases, and adapting to the given environmental conditions.
To find more information on farmer’s markets or to locate one near you, visit: www.localharvest.org
3. Think. Food.
This one seems easy, but you’ll actually be surprised how little thought goes into what we’re eating, how it was grown, and where it came from. Or my favorite question, is it even food? Start small, pick one meal this week and really take the time to savor it. Put some genuine thought about how the meal was brought together, whether you cooked it or someone else did. As Americans we so easily measure food by how much it costs, whether it’s fast, and its level of convenience. What ever happened to taste, scent, aesthetic appeal, and experience? If you bump these characteristics to the top of your list you’re almost guaranteed to have a better experience eating your food and most likely find yourself having a more nutritious meal as well!
To quote Michael Pollan, “Americans spend less than 10 percent of their income on food; they also spend less than an half hour preparing meals and little more than an hour enjoying them”. When compared to the Italians and French who spend 14.9 percent of their income on food, and the Spanish 17.1 percent. Food is clearly a higher priority for them, and it should be for us as well.
“To eat is a necessity, to eat intelligiently is an art.” -La Rochefoucauld
How have you started being a more Sustainable You??