Increasing awareness and concern for the effects of climate change and global warming are sparking a desire in people across the world to make a change in their lives. Going by recent statistics, 8 in 10 people view climate change as a significant threat to the future of their country.
We all make daily decisions that can either increase or decrease our personal carbon footprint, such as choosing whether to drive or use public transport. This article looks at some of the most important decisions people make every day that can profoundly impact how much they are heating the planet.
1. Eating Vegan
As a recent study reports, adopting a vegan diet could be the biggest way to lower your carbon footprint. According to researchers at the University of Oxford, eliminating meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce your carbon footprint by up to 73%. The study adds that if everyone stopped consuming these foods, 75% of the global farmland could be freed up, leading to a significant drop in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
If you are serious about saving the environment, one of the most impactful decisions you can make right now is to stop eating meat, eggs, and all other dairy products. "But why?" you may ask. Processing these food items, transporting them to the distribution outlets, and storing them consumes a lot of energy and fossil fuel.
Furthermore, the forests, which are meant to absorb carbon and other greenhouse gases, are cleared to provide more grazing land for the farmed animals. In the long run, the animals release even more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Going vegan is the most powerful step you can take to reduce your personal carbon footprint and save animals!
2. Limiting Meat Consumption
Going vegan is not for everyone; this is a well-known fact. If you cannot be a vegetarian, you can alternatively cut down your meat consumption. How does eating less meat help the environment? As mentioned, animals farmed for meat contribute to greenhouse gas emissions from the methane they produce and the large pieces of land cleared to serve as grazing land.
By significantly lowering your meat consumption, your efforts will decrease demand in farmland. As a recent study highlights, if everyone reduced their meat consumption by 25%, this would lead to a consequential 1% drop in the annual GHG emissions.
3. Minimizing Food Waste
Currently, about one-third of all food produced worldwide ends up as waste. This is equivalent to 1.3 billion tons of food items that never leave the farm, get spoiled during transportation, or are thrown into the trash in hotels, schools, grocery stores, or homes. This is enough food to feed all starving people on the planet.
Wasted food is more than a humanitarian concern- it is also an environmental issue. When we let food go to waste, we also waste the energy it took to grow, harvest, transport, and package the food. Worse still, if food waste goes to the landfills, it releases methane as it decays.
Methane is a more harmful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Approximately 8% of all GHG emissions from human activities could be reduced if people stopped wasting food. And this all boils down to our decision-making.
What You Can Do to Lower Food Waste
The good news is that there are many actions you can take to cut down on food waste, such as:
- Buying only what you need. Always plan ahead before going shopping to only purchase what you require. Going to the grocery store without a list and on an empty stomach may make you buy unnecessary food items.
- Recycle leftovers. Before you prepare a new meal or go to the store to buy food, use what's already in your fridge. Websites such as MyFridgeFood can give you great pointers on how to get creative with your leftovers.
- Freeze your food. The benefits of consuming fresh food cannot be overlooked. That said, frozen food is often just as nutritious as fresh food. You can preserve food for longer by freezing it.
- Learn how to store food in the best way possible. Make sure that you are storing your food in the best location to preserve it until it is eaten, whether that’s refrigerated, frozen, in open air, or in an air-tight container.
- Create awareness. Be the change you want to see. There is only so much you can do on your own. Now that you know the adverse effects wasted food can have on the planet, pass this message along. Educate as many people as you can about the importance of not wasting food.
4. Reducing Plastic Usage and Waste
Waste from food packaging is also another serious environmental problem. Most of the world's plastic waste comes from disposable food packaging, for example, wraps, lunch boxes, and disposable cutlery, to mention a few. Unfortunately, consumers are increasingly using plastic packaging for convenience purposes.
There are harmful effects of the plastic packaging on wildlife. For instance, say wind carries a piece of plastic into the ocean. Well, fish and other sea animals consume these plastics, and through the food chain, the contaminated seafood may wind up on your plate.
If we keep up with the current trends, we will have more than 12 billion metric tons of plastics in the world by 2050. And a significant percentage of this waste will be disposed of in the landfills and the ocean, just like it happens today. To make matters even worse, more than 90% of plastic waste is not recycled.
What You Can Do to Reduce Plastic Waste
Here are some of the measures you can take to reduce plastic waste:
- Do not use plastic bags. While this may seem obvious, the increase in the use of disposable plastics has turned into a real environmental issue. Carry your own cloth or jute bag the next time you go grocery shopping.
- Use reusable lunch containers. If you carry lunch every other day to work or school, use a reusable dish. When ordering takeaway, you can request them to pack your food in a reusable container.
- Segregate your waste. Separate food items from non-food waste items. Look for a recycling program near you and get to know their drop-off and pick-up options.
5. Shopping at Farmers Markets for Sustainable Foods/Fruits
Sustainability is often a central theme in farmer's markets. Farmers that sell certified organic foods use sustainable production and in turn, the local community buys from these farmers to sustain their living so that they can produce more food. Each group contributes to the sustainability of the other.
Benefits of Buying Your Food at Farmer's Market
There are many advantages of buying your food at a farmer's market, for example:
- It helps reduce your food mileage. Food mileage is the distance your food travels before reaching your table. A lot of energy and fossil fuel is used to transport food from far away locations. By reducing your food mileage, you will reduce your carbon footprint.
- Local farmers often use sustainable means of agriculture, which further helps in reducing the carbon footprint.
- Buying from local farmers helps sustain their business. Sustaining local business is good for everyone, farmers keep their productive farms active and you get fresh produce.
6. Buy Carbon Offsets
Sometimes, there isn’t much you can do to avoid doing things that contribute to your personal carbon footprint, such as flying, but you can offset your carbon emissions by supporting certain carbon offsetting projects that will offset them for you. Carbon offsetting projects typically involve building wind farms or planting trees to reduce your environmental impact through your carbon dioxide emissions. These companies will typically have a carbon footprint calculator where you enter your mileage efficiency alongside some other factors, and they will tell you how much carbon you put into the atmosphere. Buying carbon offsets is a great way to total fewer emissions overall, and can largely help improve your ecological footprint.
7. Choosing SAMBAZON to Purchase Plant-Based Açaí Products
Every time you choose to enjoy the delicious powers of Acai with products from SAMBAZON, you are purchasing from a company that cares about reducing the world’s carbon footprint. We provide delicious options for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone looking to reduce or cut out meat products and our Açaí packs are loved for their rich taste. If you are ready to start your Açaí journey, you can sample some of our Açaí recipes.
Additionally, we also started the journey of reducing our packaging footprint to contribute to the rising wave of eco-conscious action to combat plastic waste. We continue to work towards a solution and are transparent about the efforts we are making and the progress that accompanies those efforts. Learn more here.
Many people are currently feeling the agency to reduce the impact of their activities on earth, given the climate crisis. One of the most effective ways you can reduce your carbon footprint is making conscious dietary changes. By incorporating simple changes such as going vegan, eating less meat, substituting meat for plant-based meat, shopping at farmer's markets, and saying no to plastic, you can play your part in lowering your own carbon footprint. Plus, making these dietary changes can also significantly boost your health.
Additionally, supporting conscious companies that participate in the promotion of conscious commerce and encourage consumers to make intentional choices that better help our planet, is one way you can help reduce your carbon footprint. Our film, Seeding Change: The Power of Conscious Commerce is a great place to further educate yourself on the importance of voting with your dollar and how we all can protect our planet, one purchase at a time.
- Pew Research. A look at how people around the world view climate change https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/04/18/a-look-at-how-people-around-the-world-view-climate-change/
- World Bank. Climate Smart Agriculture https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/climate-smart-agriculture
- Nature Food. Dietary change in high-income nations alone can lead to substantial double climate dividend https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-021-00431-5?utm_medium=affiliate&utm_source=commission_junction&utm_content=en_textlink&utm_campaign=3_nsn6445_deeplink_PID100109082&CJEVENT=66992ca27ec611ec8293386d0a18050e
- Science. Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aaq0216
- Nature. Environmentally Optimal, Nutritionally Sound, Protein and Energy Conserving Plant Based Alternatives to U.S. Meat https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-46590-1
- Fao Org. Global Food Losses & Food Waste https://www.fao.org/3/mb060e/mb060e00.htm
- Drawdown. Reduced Food Waste https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/reduced-food-waste
- My Fridge Food. What’s in Your Fridge https://myfridgefood.com/
- National Geographic. A whopping 91% of plastic isn't recycled https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment
- The Washington Post. You might think there are more vegetarians than ever. You’d be wrong.https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/food/wp/2018/08/03/you-might-think-there-are-more-vegetarians-than-ever-youd-be-wrong/
- MDPI. Do Consumers Really Want to Reduce Plastic Usage? Exploring the Determinants of Plastic Avoidance in Food-Related Consumption Decisions https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/12/22/9627/pdf