Knowing how and what to bring home helps our health and the environment
How does what I eat affect the environment?
Greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere when producing and transporting food. This means every time you buy something it adds to your carbon footprint. The choices we make during our weekly shop can also add to the plastic pandemic. If you’re looking to make a positive environmental change to your lifestyle, your food shopping is a great place to start.
Buy only what you need
Less is more for the environmentally conscious customer. We’ve all been guilty of over shopping at some point. You pop into the supermarket and see a big red sign telling you your favourite fruit is on sale. Before you stop to think, you’re playing watermelon Tetris in the boot of your car. Fast forward a week; the whole family is sick of melon and you’ve a pile of mouldy fruit on your hands. Unfortunately, when you throw your excess food out, it rots releasing greenhouse gases.
You can avoid this problem by only buying the fruit, veg, and dairy that you know you can get through. Stocking up on non-perishables like cans and dry goods is less of a problem!
If you do end up with more food than you can handle, consider looking into food swaps or apps like Olio, which let you post your unwanted grub. Some food waste is unavoidable but you could start a compost heap to turn your waste into something useful!
Skip the meat and dairy
Producing meat and dairy releases more greenhouse gases that fruit and veg. This is partly because animals are often fed with grains and legumes, adding an extra layer of waste to production. Swapping meat and dairy for some delicious plant-based alternatives can really cut down your carbon footprint. You don’t have to completely give up on the cheese and stakes. Just cutting back in a few meals per week can have a real impact.
Food grown out of season is usually ether shipped from far away, or grown in greenhouses. Heating and building these mean more carbon dioxide and a larger carbon footprint. Check out what food is in season and try to focus your shop on these. You’ll find they usually taste better too!
If food is grown close by, less carbon dioxide will be produced shipping it around the world. This gives it a smaller carbon footprint. The closer the better. Its great if you can get to your local farm shop or farmers market for fruit, veg, and eggs. If not, going for UK or Scottish origin products in the supermarket is a good start!
Skip the plastic
Food shopping is a great place to start to get a handle on your plastic problem. Aiming to buy products with recyclable or compostable packaging can really help keep your household green. Consider making an Eco brick to keep an eye on how much plastic you’re generating. These can be used in local projects or to build furniture and flowerbeds.
Check your brands
Some brands are more environmentally friendly than others! Look out for stickers and tags, like the rainforest alliance, which indicate that your food has been certified and reviewed. Beware of false stickers and greenwashing – be sure to give any new eco-sticker you see a quick google before trusting it.
Article written by Daire Carroll