Earth Day: Food habits to help save the world

Conservation and waste reduction have been associated with April 22 since the first Earth Day in 1970, with many marking the annual celebration by planting trees. But this year (16), the organisation is putting a spin on traditional themes, planting ideas with consumers who seek fewer illnesses, less food waste and lower bills. In that spirit, here are some reasons to think a little more about what’s on our plates and in our kitchens.

Go meat-free once a week

Numerous studies demonstrate that vegetarians have lower incidences of heart disease, lower BMI and lower blood pressure than their meat-eating counterparts. According to the World Cancer Research Fund eating too much meat can increase your risk of bowel cancer. They recommend that you should eat no more than 500 grams (cooked weight) per week of red meat to reduce this risk. And the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide.

Buy local

Buying out-of-season produce which has been flown around the world is way one to lower your eco-credentials. When you shop at local butchers, bakers and grocers it is more likely that a percentage of the produce has had a much shorter journey to your plate. Along with supporting local farmers, it means your food is more likely to contain more nutrients and have less packaging.

Buy seasonal

As we have the luxury of buying all sorts of fruits and vegetables from the supermarket, we can fall prey to the vicious cycle of mass production. One Japanese study found a huge difference between the vitamin C content of spinach harvested in summer versus winter. Accordingly, keep an eye out for when fruit and vegetables are in season and plan your diet in sync.

Carry reusable water bottles

Whenever possible, carry a reusable water bottle with you. It takes seven liters of water to make one plastic water bottle and it’s estimated that each person in the U.K. uses approximately 200 water bottles each year. Further, by recycling a single plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60W light bulb for up to 6 hours.

Carry your own utensils

Buy a kit of bamboo utensils or just pop a spare knife, fork and spoon or stainless steel chopsticks into your bag. If you do have to eat on the go, this saves the use of plastic utensils and you’ll also be making a dent in the 40 billion plastic utensils used in the U.S. alone each year.

Stop buying one-time-use items

Eliminate one use items such as paper towels from your kitchen and use rags or cloths instead. Toss them in with your weekly wash and you’ll be making another step towards eco-stardom.

By doing so you’ll save money and a few trees too. According to Recycle Nation, if every household in the U.S. used just one fewer 70-sheet roll of virgin fiber paper towels, it would save 544,000 trees each year.