Adopting these 4 simple changes will make a huge difference, so why not get started today.
1. Eat more plants & limit or moderate your meat consumption - Australians are fairly big meat-eaters - so we know that it can seem unrealistic to completely cut meat out from your diet. However, a 2015 study  concluded that following a vegetarian diet 5 days a week and only eating meat 2 days a week can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water and land use by about 45%! So it’s clear that taking even taking steps to implement more meat-free days throughout the week can be extremely effective & beneficial - without completely going cold turkey. If we all made some minor adjustments to our diet, we could make a pretty big difference and cut our carbon footprint drastically - as well as improving our own health. There’s really no reason not to at least give it a try.
If you need some convincing that plant-based meals can be just as delicious & satisfying as a meat-based meal - check out this recipe for some hearty Hemp & Beetroot Burgers.
2. Buy only what you need and waste less food - another thing a lot of us are guilty of is food wastage - a National Waste Report conducted in 2010 made the harrowing estimation that Australians throw out 4 million tonnes of food each year - that’s enough to fill 450,000 garbage trucks. This waste has to go somewhere - and it’s at the cost of our environment.
Small changes will make a huge difference:
- Simply planning out your meals for the week and ensuring your shopping list is full of necessities only, no extras, is a fail-proof way to make sure you’re only buying what you need and what you’ll use.
- Store your fresh produce correctly so that it lasts as long as possible, and make sure you’re organising your fridge and pantry in a way that means you’re rotating through ingredients without the risk of things being shoved at the back, only to rot away.
- If you do end up with leftovers - get creative and repurpose what you can into new meals.
- Alternatively, set up a compost bin at home so that any food that you do waste can be recycled in the form of nutrient-rich soil for growing your own veggies at home.
3. Don’t buy or use single-use plastics - seems obvious, but we all know how tempting it is to buy what’s most convenient as opposed to the most sustainable option. Things like plastic-wrapped pre-cut vegetables, snack bars and single-use bottles or cans all add up - so try to break the habit completely & commit to no single-use plastics. Store your food in mason jars and metal containers instead of using plastic containers and plastic wrap and always pack a reusable bag when you go shopping. Better yet, ditch the supermarkets and shop at a local farmers market (where they don’t wrap everything in plastic) or find a bulk food store that sells non-perishable items like pasta, beans and rice in bulk. Just remind yourself - every piece of plastic every made is still on the planet today, polluting our oceans, waterways and soil. Make sure you’re not adding to the problem unnecessarily.
4. Eat seasonally - having a little bit of knowledge about what foods are in season when, is one of the best steps you can take in your sustainable eating journey. When you buy seasonal produce, you effectively put less pressure on resources required to import exotic food items from around the world - significantly cutting down on food milage and reducing our carbon footprint. Seasonal produce also doesn’t require as much artificial help in growing, so you’ll find less pesticides and chemicals, and less human assistance in general. Plus, you’ll find that in-season product actually tastes better and lasts longer! If you’re not sure what’s in season at the moment, take some time to go to your local farmer’s market & support local businesses at the same time.
 Ruini LF, Ciati R, Pratesi CA, Marino M, Principato L and Vannuzzi E (2015) Working toward healthy and sustainable diets: the “Double Pyramid Model” developed by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition to raise awareness about the environmental and nutritional impact of foods.
 Dee, John. Australia Needs a Food Waste Strategy. ABC Environment. 5 Jun 2013. Accessed 29 Jul 2014. http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2013/06/05/3774785.htm