The journey to living a greener, eco-friendly lifestyle often means smarter eating, in more ways than one. While simply eating less meat is one way to have a positive environmental impact, there are plenty of other ways you can start to incorporate green practices into your dining habits, whether you’re someone who loves to go out to eat or someone who prefers to whip up dishes at home.
Planet-Friendly Cooking at Home
1. Buy in Bulk.
Wherever possible, buy your dry goods, canned items, spices, nuts and produce in bulk. Patronize stores that offer this option (you’ve likely seen this in most “natural” or “health food” stores) and bring your own reusable containers like cloth bags, silicone, or glass.
2. Get Produce Without the Plastic.
You don’t need to use those horrible plastic bags that you find in rolls in the produce aisle (and by horrible, I mean horrible: notoriously difficult to open and rip almost immediately). Weigh and carry your produce sans bag (or use your own reusable one). When you go to checkout, simply put them on the scanner scale and voila! stick them right into your shopping tote afterward. This one is a super easy planet-friendly hack.
3. Make a Meal Plan.
It isn’t just for diets. Creating menus or ideas of what you want to make throughout the week will keep you from making impulse purchases at the store (er… reduce impulse purchases) and it will reduce the number of trips you take to the store and, by extension, reduce your shopping carbon footprint.
Planet-Friendly Dining Out
4. Use the Same Glass.
When you ask for a second round (or more) of your favorite beverage, tell the bartender or server that they can use the same glass — especially if you’re at the bar. Why use the energy to wash yet another glass, especially if you’re drinking the same thing.
5. Always Take Leftovers.
I’m notorious for not being a big leftovers gal. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take that extra food to go. You can get creative and repurpose extra food in a new way if you’re not the “leftovers” type (if you need inspiration, just Google “creative leftovers” + whatever food you have). And if not, you can offer them to a homeless person or leave them strategically next to a public waste bin for someone else to claim.
6. Speaking of Leftovers…
If you get takeout or leftovers to go, refuse the plastic bag and utensils and bring them home in your own reusable bag. Even better, if you tend not to finish your meal (me!), then bring your own glass, silicone, or metal Tupperware with you whenever practical. This is particularly impactful if you’re someone who orders or eats out frequently. I love my Stasher Bags for this purpose.
7. Or More than Just Leftovers.
Are you holding or attending a big event? Make sure that uneaten food is going to a good cause! Many catering companies throw away food not eaten at the end of an event — much of which can still be eaten. Look for an organization such as Rescuing Leftover Cuisine that will send volunteers to pick up any usable leftovers you have from your event. And while you’re at it, why not sign up for a “food rescue” too.
So next time you’re grocery shopping or eating out, give these planet-friendly dining tips a try. Remember — progress not perfection! Every step goes a long way.