Research shows that if population growth continues, along with the consumption of red meat and processed foods, the environmental impact of the food system could increase by a massive 90% by 2050.
This would lead to key planetary boundaries being exceeded and to vital ecosystems becoming unstable. Urban life is all about the hustle and bustle, so it can be difficult to take a step back and look at your diet, but it’s important to do so.
Fortunately, it’s easy to make some simple changes that can make your way of eating much more eco-friendly.
Reduce food packaging waste
A large portion of waste comes from food packaging and a lot of it is un-recyclable or difficult to recycle. Shopping at farmer’s markets is a good way to find fresh food without packaging.
More and more zero waste stores are also popping up in towns and cities where you can take your own reusable containers to fill up.
Where this isn’t possible, buying in bulk will dramatically reduce the amount of packaging used and also helps you to shop less often, which can mean fewer emissions from cars.
You should also look for packaging that is plastic-free, such as glass, metal, cardboard, and compostable materials, as these can often be reused or repurposed and are generally better for the oceans.
Grow your own fruits and vegetables
Growing your own food means that there’s no packaging involved, as well as no food miles, and you can grow organically. Growing your own fruits and vegetables will also help the planet as the plants will filter out carbon dioxide and supply oxygen.
If you don’t have a garden, many towns and cities have community projects for growing food or allotments available and you can grow on windowsills and balconies too.
Once you’ve grown fruits and vegetables you’ll usually find that you have weeks, if not months, worth of each. Some can be frozen straight away or you can cook them first and then freeze them to give you a continuous supply once they’re out of season.
The environmental impact of your food choices
Eating local food, particularly home-grown produce, definitely reduces the impact that your diet has on the environment, but research shows that eating plant-based has the most dramatic effect.
The world’s food and agriculture systems are responsible for over a quarter of all man-made greenhouse gases, with nearly two-thirds being linked to animal products.
Therefore, switching to a plant-based diet can help greenhouse gases to drop substantially. Eating vegetarian or simply reducing how many animal products you consume will also make your diet more eco-friendly and can be a good place to start.
In an urban setting, plant-based foods are becoming more accessible as the movement grows and meat and dairy substitutes are more realistic than ever, making it easy to reduce how many animal products are in your diet.
Food can have a big impact on the planet, from the packaging it’s sold in to where it’s imported from. Fortunately, even if you have little or no garden you can still grow your own produce.
You can still do it in the community, and big cities are actually welcoming the plant-based movement nowadays, making it easier than ever to make your diet eco-friendly.
This article was contributed by Jane Milner.