7 Small Ways To Begin Your Journey Toward Sustainable Eating

by Kara Perez
Simone Becchetti

Spring has sprung across most of the US, and green is everywhere. So, maybe it's time for you to go a little greener in your eating.

Sustainable eating is no longer the land of mushy tofu and bean sprouts. You can rock out with your food and still be nice to Mother Nature. It's much easier to get started than you think. (I pinky promise.)

Here are seven simple ways you can begin your journey toward sustainable eating:

1. Meatless Monday

This can be Tuesday, Wednesday or whichever day of the week you like the best. Try giving up meat one day a week, and you'll be eating sustainably. Meatless Monday is a global movement, and some cities across the world have committed wholeheartedly. By giving up meat just one day a week, you'll help conserve water, reduce greenhouse gasses and reduce fuel dependence.

You'll also do your own health a favor and cut your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. I can get down with veggie burgers for dinner once a week for those kinds of benefits.

2. Buy Food With Less Packaging

This one is often overlooked, but it has a harmful environmental impact. Those foods you buy with tons of plastic wrapping, or the plastic trays holding individual food items? Yeah, those all suck to Mother Nature. Even cans pile up quickly.

Try bringing small cloth bags or mason jars, and buying things like rice and beans in bulk. Bonus: You'll reduce your food bill (bulk is almost always cheaper). You can help out your wallet and the environment in one blow.

3. Buy Sustainable Meat

For those days when you are consuming meat, try to buy mindfully and sustainably. Rather than just grabbing the cheapest package of chicken thighs off the shelf, look into buying locally. Local farms will sell meat that is raised better and tastes better.

You'll be supporting your local economy, too, which is badass. Keep your dollars in your community instead of sending them off to some giant corporation.

4. Forgo Fish

We are in serious danger of overfishing. Overfishing obviously reduces fish populations, but it also breaks down ecosystems. By taking fish out of their habitats, we're fundamentally changing the patterns of said habitats. The fish that used to feed off the algae that kills coral is no longer there, so the coral is getting its ass kicked by that algae now. We're taking too much and too often for nature to be able to keep up.

Try giving up fish altogether. If you absolutely can't, skip the big ones like tuna, octopus and lobster. Try eating fish that eat plants, like catfish or tilapia. There are full lists of fish that are OK to eat, learn from them. Buy fish from places you know are adhering to environmental guidelines. A little research goes a long way.

5. Eat Seasonally

This is embarrassing to admit, but I never really realized food had seasons of growth as a kid. There are always strawberries at the grocery store, so I ate them year-round. I was in my early 20s before it clicked. (Please don't judge me.)

Eating with the seasons is great. It's great for the planet because it puts less stress on ecosystems. It means less fuel waste, since you don't have to transport out-of-season foods as far. Eat The Seasons is a great resource to check what's good to eat right now. Today, asparagus, kale and pineapple top the list.

6. Eat Locally

I mentioned buying your meat from a local farm, but you can get totally crazy and buy all your food locally. Farms do food shares where you can pay for a box of different, local and in-season foods each week. They can get you out of a food rut and have you supporting local businesses and eating green.

Skip the big box grocery store just once a month, and buy a week's worth of food from a local farm. The difference in taste will astound you, and you'll be an environmental rock star.

7. Lose The Water Bottle

This is such a basic thing to do that has such huge impacts. There are countless water bottle companies out there, so you can find the BPA-free, cute water bottle design of your choosing.

Water bottles are huge sources of waste. This Bloomberg article breaks down the impact of a water bottle felt around the world. It also hits you with this scary figure:

Producing plastic bottles consumes the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil a year in the US alone, not including transportation.

Lose the plastic bottles, for God's sake.

Going green (even in small ways) is an important thing for us all to introduce into our lives. There are 300 million people in the US. If we each take small steps, it adds up to huge impacts. So, take a second and do something nice for Mother Nature.