3 Ways to go green in 2018
Setting achievable goals for the new year can be daunting. It’s easy enough to decide you want to do something and another thing entirely to actually stick to your goals. At Farmwall, we want to inspire others to make sustainable decisions around food practices. These can be done in such simple ways, that form good habits you’ll actually follow.
If you want to make your 2018 a greener one, but have no idea where to start, let’s begin with food—everyone needs to eat right? Next time you’re grocery shopping, eating out, gardening or cooking, you can play your part in ‘going green’ by considering these three things.
1. FOOD MILES—YOU SHOULD BE THE ONE TRAVELLING, NOT YOUR FOOD!
When we talk food miles what we mean is the distance food travels to go from the farm, to your plate. Did you know that produce is handled approximately 16 times before it reaches you?
Take your Greek salad for example—
Tomatoes are in season in Australia during Summer and Autumn. Which means you and local grocers can grow and source local produce quickly and easily with minimal food miles (especially if you only have to walk 5 metres to your veggie patch). However if it’s the middle of winter and you absolutely need some tomatoes for your Greek salad, you’ll still be able to buy them of course, at a greater price. This price reflects the labour involved in the distance travelled and the extensive packaging and storage practices, to ensure tomatoes are available to the consumer through all seasons.
Save money and go green in 2018—make a different salad.
Here is a link below is to a seasonal food guide, the perfect tool to help navigate your way through fresh fruit and veggies for the year. Bookmark the page and get into the habit of checking it before you head off for the weekly shop, and if you’re growing at home you’ll get the most from your garden if you follow the seasons. While you're at it, check out this nifty food mile calculator, to get some nifty metrics on your progress!
2. GET RID OF THE PESKY PACKAGING
This leads on from food miles but you can apply this goal to quite a few parts of your life. The further your food has to travel to get to you, the more extensive the packaging needs to be to keep the food fresh. By reducing your food miles, you’re also reducing the amount of plastic you’re paying for and eventually throwing out into landfill. Less plastic = less problems!
Before you head to the shops, consider reaching for a reusable bag instead of relying on the plastic ones at the store. But remember to keep using the same ones! If you forget them at home all the time, and keep buying more reusable bags at the store, your not really solving the problem! Leaving them near your front door, in your car, or on your bike is a good way to get into the habit of using your bags.
When it comes to the actual shop, simply picking out fruit and veg that is loose and not pre-packaged is an easy way to live with less plastic. It's also usually more expensive to buy pre-packaged produce.
Next is to get rid of those pesky plastic bottles. Re-use old ones or invest in one made from metals or glass. These bottles often have insulating qualities that plastic ones don’t, they also won’t leach harmful chemicals after multiple uses. Better for you and the environment! Don’t carry a water bottle? (You should! You need water!) If dashing between offices and meetings running solely on coffee is more your thing, consider a reusable cup. Most cafes and baristas are more than happy to use your cup, just pass it over to them as you make your order. Some cafes even offer a discount as your saving them money as well. If you’re not sure where to find reusable coffee cups, just ask at the register of your local cafe, they’ll either sell them or be able to point you in the right direction.
Less obvious than plastic bags, bottles and takeaway cups is the unassuming plastic straw. These little guys are tearing up our ocean wildlife and long outliving us, presenting a massive issue for waste management. Next time you order a drink at the bar at Friday night work drinks, politely say to the bartender, “No straw thanks!” Giving up this little convenience makes a huge difference, and you may even inspire the patron next to you to do the same.
If you’re looking to go a little further, check out The Last Straw, an initiative that aims to end the use of plastic straws in venues around Australia.
3. SAVE WASTE—SAVE MONEY
The first step to reducing the amount of food you waste is to become a smarter shopper. Make lists, food plans and try to avoid impulse purchases. You’ll avoid buying things you don’t need, hence you’ll waste less. Buy exact amounts of what your meals call for. If you need 1 sweet potato for dinner, don’t buy the bag of them just because it's better value when you’ll only get around to using one or two before the rest of them spoil.
Part of being a smart shopper is being realistic and organised. If you don’t cook often, and if you eat out most nights of the week, ask yourself: Do you really need all of that produce? If you get to the end of the week and you’ve got fresh food threatening to go off, why not plan an impromptu party? By simply cutting up veggies and serving them on a platter with dip is an easy and quick way to use up fresh produce as well as a much healthier option to chips and lollies.
With this in mind it might be a good idea to designate one day a week as a ‘using up’ day, where you use up all the stuff that will go off if you don’t. At the end of the week, chuck all of your old veg into a wok and enjoy your waste-free stir-Friday! When you’re getting down to it, cooking we mean, try using as much possible! Keep skins on potatoes, pumpkin and cucumbers. Use the full broccoli, stem and all. You’ll get more of what you love, you’ll be getting more nutrition and you’ll be wasting less! This is also a great way to keep track of what you’re throwing out. For example, if you’re only getting through half a loaf of bread before it goes mouldy, it might be better to put half the loaf in the freezer after you buy it.
With what scraps you can’t avoid, repurpose them for veggie stocks or start a compost bin. For produce that is pushing the boundary of ‘fresh’ but still in relatively good shape, preserve it by turning it into soup, jam, smoothies or loafs. Check out this banana bread recipe that works best if you have super mushy bananas!
Sharing is caring, so next time you head out for a meal why not try sharing plates or splitting a main with a friend. If there is enough left over to feed a small nation there is no shame in asking for a container to take home leftovers. If someone shames you they are bad people and you don’t need that in your life, cut them out. Look at you! Executing new year's resolutions all over the place.
Start your new year on the greener side of things with some environmentally conscious choices that’ll will hopefully stick well into 2018.