Today is Blog Action Day. This year’s topic is climate change. This is my contribution.
When I think about the problem of climate change, it seems so huge that any action I can take can’t possibly put much of a dent in the problem. But the truth is that we humans brought about climate change, and if we want to reduce its effects, we are all going to have to make some changes. For too long we have put blinders on to the effects our personal buying choices have on our environment.
Probably nowhere can we have more of an effect individually than on our personal food-buying choices. The food industry consumes a lot of energy and is a major source of carbon emissions. By making some small changes, and being more conscious when we purchase food for our families, we can reduce the impact.
Here are some things I’m doing:
Buy local whenever possible. The energy costs of shipping food across the world are staggering. Buying local reduces the distance traveled and the energy consumed in the trip. Both of my grocery stores now clearly label the local produce. If yours doesn’t, ask if they will start. Shopping at farmers markets is also a good option during the growing seasons.
Reduce the amount of meat you eat. You don’t have to cut meat out altogether, but try to incorporate more vegetarian meals into your weekly routine. Particularly focus on reducing beef and pork consumption, where factory farming contributes most highly to environmental degradation and carbon emissions. When you do eat meat, source humanely raised, grass-fed beef. Since you are buying it less often, the extra cost isn’t as noticeable, and it really does taste better too.
Cut out processed foods as much as possible. In addition to shipping costs, processed foods use more than their fair share of energy and natural resources in processing, packaging and storage. Most convenience foods, such as soups and frozen dinners, can be replicated easily with whole foods and a good recipe, and they really don’t take that much more time to prepare. You’ll probably enjoy your dinners more, as a bonus.
Compost first; recycle or reuse second; throw away last. It is very easy to start composting your food scraps, and you can reduce the amount of garbage you throw in the landfill by up to half once you do. Also try to recycle or reuse as much food packaging as possible. Bring your own bags to the grocery store and buy in bulk when possible to reduce packaging as well.
Stop buying bottled water. Bottled water is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on the American consumer. Most often the water is municipal tap water, which you can get out of your own tap for pennies. The fossil fuels used to manufacture the plastic bottles and ship them all over the country cannot be justified. Invest in a good reusable water bottle and fill it with perfectly safe tap water instead.
These are just a few ideas. In addition to the earth’s resources you save by implementing these small changes, they all have the added benefit of saving you money and creating a more healthful diet.