Top 6 Earth-Friendly Eating Rules During Isolation

Sharon Palmer

I know times are stressful. We’re worried about our jobs, paying the bills, the health of our loved ones, and the future. Plus, we’re tired of being isolated from our chosen lifestyles. Bored with our entertainment choices, missing the laughter of others at a party, and tired of the humdrum. And it’s showing up in numerous ways, including the choices we make every day that impact our planet. In many ways, this period of sheltering in has reduced our environmental footprint. Far, far fewer cars are being driven, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. And more companies and factories are shut down, reducing energy resources. This is a good thing. However, we are developing some less optimal habits, such as wasting more food and producing more trash.

More than ever, it is clear that we need to tread more gently on Mother Earth. The planet has already reached many tipping points, and urgent action needs to occur to preserve it for future generations. This world is bigger than just people. We want to ensure that our big beautiful planet can support healthy ecosystems of flora and fauna beyond just human life. Our food system is responsible for a large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use, and pollution. The choices we make every day make a big impact. So, I’m sharing my Top 6 Earth-Friendly Eating Rules you can do with your eating style during isolation—and really every day—to reduce your impact on the environment.

6 Earth-Friendly Eating Rules During Isolation

1. Don’t Waste Food. Food insecurity is at an all-time high. Food pantry shelves are barren, and more people are hungry. Given job loss, the shutdown of the school lunch program, and declining access to healthful foods, it’s a given that many people are struggling to feed themselves. Yet, we are wasting more food right now than in the past. Overbuying, poor planning, and throwing away perfectly good food are all culprits. Check out my tips for reducing food waste here.

Don’t buy more than you need for a well-stocked pantry.

2. Don’t Hoard Food. Hoarding food takes away food security from others, and leads to food waste (see #1). Don’t panic, we have a healthy, resilient food system. Just buy what you need for 1-2 weeks of shopping, keeping in mind that you don’t want to over-purchase perishable foods beyond what you can consume in a few days.

3. Do Reduce Your Waste Stream. We’re producing more trash than ever, creating a crisis for waste management services in cities. Now is not the time to use excess household plastic, paper products, aluminum, and packaging. You can still keep a safe clean kitchen by sanitizing counters with reusable clothes, and using sealable storage containers instead of disposable bags and containers.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle.

4. Do Recycle. It’s tempting to toss out the rules of routine life during a crisis, but throwing recyclables—plastics, bottles, glass, aluminum, stainless steel—into the trash increases the volume of waste moving into land and waterways, which pollutes and reduces resources. Check out my rules for kitchen recycling here.

Some of my favorite plant-based foods.

5. Do Eat Plant-Based. There’s never been a better time to eat a primarily plant-based diet. After all, plant-based proteins—beans, lentils, peanuts, peas—are economical, shelf-stable, and easy. One of the most significant thing you can do over your lifetime to cut your carbon footprint is to eat a more plant-based diet. Check out my top tips for going plant-based here.

Support your farmers market or CSA.

6. Do Eat Local. Find ways to support your local food system by shopping local. During a crisis, local food systems are essential. If it becomes difficult to get foods from centralized production systems, at least if farms are growing food in your community, you will have access to healthful food. In addition, local food is linked with lower environmental footprint because of reduced food miles, greater biodiversity, and lower inputs. Support your farmers market or join a CSA. Check out my top tips for eating local here.

For more on how to eat for the planet, check out:

4 Ways to Eat Organic on a Budget
Top 5 Tips for Greening Your Plate
Top 11 Tips for Sustainable Eating

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