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For the love of the planet and your health, eat sustainably

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Between the Amazon catching fire at a rapid rate in the past year, 91% of plastic not being recycled, and the average American producing 1,600 pounds of garbage a year, there is a massive dilemma that we are all involved in.

Often, people believe that these problems are out of their control or too big that they cannot do anything about it. These people are wrong. If everyone did something to change their lifestyle to live more sustainably then change could and would occur. The era that we live in is all about “reposting” issues that we care about on our social media platforms, and that is important for awareness. However, now more than ever it is time to do more than a repost, it is time to advocate for sustainability in our daily lives.

So, what can you do to help the planet?

Everyone eats. Right? At one point in the day, everyone must eat to sustain their own life. So, while sustaining our own life, why don’t you also make changes to sustain the planet? Doing your part to help the environment does not mean to go vegan, compost and not have waste while also living 100% plastic free. But if everyone could choose one or two things each day to help routinize sustainable eating habits, that would go a long way.

One way to begin eating more sustainably is to prioritize plants. According to My Plate, we should fill half our plates with vegetables and fruit for an ideal diet. Luckily, planning meals around produce benefits the planet as well. Moving toward a more plant-based lifestyle will help reduce freshwater withdrawals and deforestation. In contrast to eating more vegetables, minimizing the amount of meat consumed is also a way of eating more sustainably. Meat production is a sizable contributor to greenhouse gas emissions–specifically beef production. In general, one calorie of animal protein requires more than 11 times as much fossil energy input as producing one calorie of plant protein. Limiting meat intake and increasing fruits and vegetables will assist in the ongoing effort for the world to be more sustainable.

Another option for sustainable eating is to look local. Upon opening, the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market brings in delicious fresh foods from local farms around the area. Building relationships with local community members including farmers allows an opportunity for education to learn about how your food was grown, when it was harvested and how to best prepare it! Also, when possible, focus on foods that are available in season near where you live. Being able to connect to how your food went from the farm to the table is way to eat more mindfully while also being sustainable.

Using less waste daily will make a large impact on sustainability. Instead of using single-use plastic bottles, tap into your tap and use a refillable bottle to fill your water. Liquids are some of the heaviest items to ship and a lot of fossil fuel has to be used in order to get them to your nearest convenient store or vending machine. We can also limit plastic use by using reusable food containers and reusable grocery bags. Try to minimize use of plastic cutlery, cups and plates in the work space and at home.

Finally, mindful eating is the simplest way to be more sustainable in your eating habits because you don’t have anything besides your focus and own mentality. Being aware of what you are eating allows you to reflect on how each item is nourishing your body. By paying closer attention to hunger signals, you may be able to recognize when you’re actually needing to fuel your body and when you are just bored and eating because you think you should. This will both help your personal health to not overeat and reduce food waste.

Sustainable eating is about choosing foods and methods that are healthful to our environment and our bodies. Simple changes in your daily life is all it takes to make an impact. If everyone made one to two changes consistently this would benefit the community, the country and the planet. It is time to look out for yourself and your health and the health of your neighbors. Make a change today, because your footprint matters.

Sources:

Wolfram, T. Sustainable Eating. Eat Right. February 15,2019

Rockstrom J, Willett W. An American Plate that is Palatable for Human and Planetary Health. Huffington Post. March 26, 2015.