5 Ways to Eat Environmentally Friendly to Protect Your Health and Planet

Today is Earth Day and you may be wondering how you can give back to the planet you call home. You can show the Earth some love if you eat environmentally friendly as part of your eco-friendly lifestyle.

If you eat in a responsible and healthy way, both your planet and body will thank you. Here’s how you can do your part.

1. Plastic Isn’t Fantastic

This year’s Earth Day theme is End Plastic Pollution because discarded plastic presently threatens the survival of the planet. The idea is to buy and use less plastic. You can do this in several ways:

  • Keep reusable shopping bags in your car so you can bring fresh food home in an earth-friendly way
  • Buy a stainless steel or glass beverage bottle that also stays close by when you get thirsty
  • To avoid using plastic cutlery, pack stainless steel cutlery in your lunches and bring them home every day
  • Instead of using plastic wrap to cover food, invest in a set of glass containers
  • If you don’t have one already, buy a water filter system to cut down on bottled water

2. Buy Fresh and Local

Local produce is often fresher than imported produce since it hasn’t been transported from afar. Shopping local supports local businesses, which in turn, helps support your community. It just feels good — and tastes good — to know you’re eating locally. Buying foods that are in season also lets you eat environmentally friendly foods while amping up the health factor.

3. Grow It Yourself

Allocate a portion of your yard for vegetables or start a community garden. If you have a small back porch, balcony or fire escape, use containers to grow veggies and herbs. A trellis will increase your yield and is especially good for veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers and peas. Now your children will know that fresh fruits and vegetables don’t just come from the big chain grocery store — they come from the soil in your garden!

If you’re the type who likes to freeze or can, you can also enjoy your homegrown produce months later.

4. Sustain to Maintain

Eating a plant-based diet, as research repeatedly proves, is healthier than consuming meat-rich diets. That’s why you’ve probably heard a lot about the Mediterranean diet, which limits the amount of meat you eat. A study in the Journal of Health Services Research & Policy found this diet to have a lower environmental impact than diets with more meat.

Beef production produces more heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as methane. The World Resources Institute says beef production releases 20 times as many greenhouse gases as farming beans do. If you haven’t already, try a Meatless Monday to do your part to improve both your and the planet’s health.

5. Make the Most of Compost

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says between 20 and 30 percent of what people throw away is food scraps and yard waste, all things that can be composted instead. Making a compost keeps these materials out of landfills. Additionally, it makes an ideal mulch to nourish your garden, so you don’t have to rely on commercial fertilizers.

You can have a compost space on the ground or use a sealable bin. Add straw, leaves, sawdust and even newspaper, all rich in carbon. For the nitrogen that’s needed, add vegetable peelings, fruit waste, coffee grounds and grass clippings. Now you’re brewing up something that’s doubly good for the planet.

With these tips, you can truly make a difference this Earth Day. For more healthy, environmentally friendly options, talk to a registered dietitian at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, Mass.

*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

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