More than five ways to green your diet and kitchen

Farmers’ markets are back in season around the country, making this a good time to look at more environmentally friendly eating (and drinking) options. CAP offers some simple ways to green up your diet and kitchen (and a few less simple ones at the end):Eat locally. Buying your food locally helps the environment. A study in Iowa found that by eating locally, one consumes 17 times less oil and gas than a typical diet with food shipped across the nation. Eating locally doesn’t restrict you to your own kitchen, either. Many restaurants, such as Chipotle, are making an effort to use more local ingredients””some exclusively so.

Buy food in bulk. Buying food in bulk helps reduce the use of packaging, which cuts down on waste and strain on the environment. You can also reduce waste by putting bulk items in reusable containers. And it’s better for your wallet, too. Buying in bulk also reduces the number of trips you have to take to the store, which in turn decreases the toxic emissions from your car, truck, or SUV.

Use reusable bags. We’re all used to hearing “paper or plastic” at the grocery store checkout counter. The best response, however, is “neither.” Plastic products decompose very slowly and endanger sea life, and almost 4 billion trees are cut down every year to serve the paper industry. Reusable shopping bags are a much better alternative, and some stores such as Target and Whole Foods Market even offer discounts to customers using these bags. If you want to get fancy you can even make your own bag.

Store your leftovers in glass containers. That’s right, throw out the Tupperware and all those other plastic containers in your kitchen. Glass is a better choice for storing your leftovers. For one, glass is recyclable and all natural, unlike many plastics. Second, storing food in plastic has potential health hazards that you won’t have to worry about by using glass.

Purify your tap water. Many people love to drink bottled water, but it’s not very environmentally friendly. Bottled water results in up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste annually, and it also takes up to 47 million gallons of oil to make the plastic every year. Also, it’s much cheaper to filter your tap water than it is to buy bottled water on a regular basis, and you can always store it in stainless steel bottles or glass containers when you need your water on the go.

— A CAP cross-post

Note:  If you really want to green your kitchen, buy Energy Star kitchen appliances and compact  fluorescent lightbulbs — for more, see “20 steps to a greener home.”  And yes, a more vegetarian diet will tend to have lower emissions:

8 Responses to More than five ways to green your diet and kitchen

  1. Monique GRG says:

    Participate in a CSA, an animal share or meat coop. Help small farms survive by sharing some of their risk and providing them with a sure source of income. In return, they will work hard to give you a quality product.

    Appreciate the higher prices of your organic food as an indicator of its quality. See the increased costs as an impetus to eat moderately – smaller, healthier portions and perhaps less meat, and a reason to savor the product of hard work – the farmer’s to raise, care, harvest and bring to market and yours to earn the money to pay.

    Get to know your farmer whether you see them at a market, farm stand or on the farm. Find out from them what it is they do to bring you quality food. What does organic mean to them? Show them appreciation and give them respect. Bring your kids and any friends or relatives who might want to experience something new.

    Buy reasonable amounts so none of it is wasted. Learn to cook, eat and use everything, every part. Ask your farmer for suggestions. Sometimes they have the best ideas. Cook with someone – your spouse, partner, roomate, kids, parent/s, friend/s. Take the time to prepare and cook your food properly, enjoy it leisurely, and don’t waste anything. Give away extra herbs to your neighbors or co-workers. Bring leftovers to share at lunch. Invite a friend or family. This makes eating more sociable, slows it down and helps with digestion.


  2. Stephen watson says:

    How can you omit the largest or perhaps second largest (after local food) way to green your diet? Cut down, or better still, eliminate meat from your diet.

    One of the three reasons I became vegetarian in 1985 was because of the incredible inefficiency of converting plaants to flesh for human consumption. You can also add the pollution of slurry and methane from all those animals too.

  3. JK says:

    MUST READ: Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.” It’s a fascinating, well-written account of the sources of our food in the U.S. and includes information about fossil-fuel use in food production and transport.

  4. joyce says:

    Good timing. I’m hosting a post-rapture “low carbon” potluck brunch tomorrow.

    We’ll see how well we do!

  5. Chris (from Vancouver) says:

    It is no coincidence that what is good for your health is also good for the planet’s health. We are not separate from the planet somehow living off the planet’s resources. We are the planet, and if the planet is sick we are sick.

    Too many of us consider ourselves apart from the planet, rather than a part of the planet.

    I don’t think we can seriously consider cleaning up the planet without also cleaning up ourselves. The Ministry of Health needs to start talking to the Ministry of the Environment.

  6. Anne van der Bom says:

    Why is ‘becoming a vegetarian’ only added as a side note? It should be prominently stated as the single most important thing you can do to green up your diet. Beats all other things combined.

    I understand Al Gore as received some flak because of his blind spot wrt meat.

  7. Nancy says:

    We have a worm composting system in our kitchen. It’s a tiered system and it’s amazing how much food waste the red wigglers eat and what they produce from it. The compost is extremely high quality and perfect for starting your veggie plants, and the ‘worm pee’ is used for fertilizer, as well as an insecticide for your garden. Very valuable stuff. If you have kids, the worms are a great learning opportunity.

  8. 6thextinction says:

    i’m amazed at the tips in this article: buying locally, in bulk, using reusable cloth bags, not using plastic containers for food, and drinking tap water instead of bottled water! THIS is a list in 2011 for environmentalists??? plus the articles listed below are from ’08 and ’09???

    this is a climate progress article on “greening” our diets? you and we need to step it up, big-time.

    if you are serious about our climate crisis , this is what you will do, starting NOW: 1) give up all animal products. there is a world of good eating awaiting you, and you will be living your enviro values. find a vegan to help you shop and meal-plan. 2) eat every food purchase, or give it away before it spoils. compost. 3) have a garden or window sill garden for salad greens. 4) bike, walk, take a bus, or carpool to your source of food. 5) encourage everyone you know to do the same (over your mouth-watering vegan dinners and picnics you host.)

    how can you do anything else?