A small change in your diet can have a significant impact on your carbon footprint. Generally, food accounts for 10-30% of a household's carbon footprint, and in some neighborhoods, it can be even higher.
Eat more plant-based foods 🌿
Having a vegetarian or vegan diet is healthier for the environment since meat and dairy products have larger carbon footprints than plants. Meat and dairy production are major contributors of greenhouse gas, causing up to 14% of emissions globally, according to one study. In fact, five meat and milk companies produce more combined emissions every year than major oil companies. You can opt for meat substitutes like tofu or beans.
If giving up meat entirely isn’t an option for you, switching from beef to chicken or fish can also make a difference. An Environmental Research Letter study found that beef has up to a hundred times greater environmental impact than plants. Compared to chicken, beef's greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram are 7.2 times greater.
Cook smart 🍳
Believe it or not, how you prepare your food is as important as the food you eat.
It’s a universal truth that the oven requires energy, whether you have an electric or gas stove. You can save energy by keeping your pans and pots covered while cooking. They’ll heat up faster.
Kick things up a notch and opt for cookware that matches the size of your stove’s heating element to save energy. (A six-inch pot on an eight-inch burner wastes over 40% of the burner’s heat.)
Not only does this have a positive environmental impact, but it also pads your wallet. On average, you could save about $36 in electric bills and $18 in gas bills by using the right-sized pots on your stove burners.
Grow your own food 🍅
When your backyard is your garden, you can reduce the number of trips to the store, which also cuts back on CO2 emissions.
Plus, growing your own food results in a lower carbon footprint because during the photosynthesis process, plants absorb carbon from the air and return it to the soil.
Get creative with leftovers 🥡
Leftovers are more than just the aftermath of holiday get-togethers.
Reduce your carbon footprint by repurposing your leftovers all year long. The possibilities are endless. Make delicious salads, soups, and smoothies with leftover scraps and ingredients. Who knows? You may end up creating a new favorite dish.
Let’s not forget storage 🍱
It’s important to store your food correctly to ensure maximum freshness. Not only will your food taste better, they’ll last longer, too.
Here are some tips on storing your produce:
- Wash, dry, and wrap your lettuce with a paper towel to keep it crisp.
- Put your apples in the fridge.
- Freeze your bread to slow down mold growth.
- Store tomatoes at room temperature.
- Separate and wrap banana stems in plastic wrap to help contain ethylene gas.
Compost your food 🍄
Finally, if you have any leftovers or food scraps, choosing to dispose them properly by composting will do wonders by storing more carbon in the soil, and — if you use it in your garden — help grow more sustainable food!
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