Making the Family Diet More Eco-Friendly by Kelly Francis, Registered Dietitian
The health of our environment needs help from us! We should all be making an effort to use less plastic and packaging while reducing food waste in general. The food we eat is responsible for a great deal of the waste we produce. If each family adopted some waste reducing strategies for 2019, a big difference can be made to the very source of our food!
If all families made a few small changes to reduce both food waste and plastic use, it would add up to a big change for our environment. We have a problem with fast filling landfills and tons of plastic ending up in our oceans. Apart from what this is doing to our environment, we also experience an increased toxic burden as a result of waste. Toxic burden increases our risk for disease.
Tips for reducing food waste
Plan your shop according to a weekly menu. This prevents the impulsive purchasing of mismatching ingredients or excessive quantities if fresh produce.
When buying fresh produce, keep your schedule in mind. Buy only what you need.
Do not fall for bulk savings if you cannot use all of the produce before it spoils
Start a compost heap with vegetable peels, tea bags and egg shells
Do not store potatoes or tomatoes in the fridge
Separate tomatoes, bananas, avocados and pears from other fresh produce. These fruits produce more ethylene which promotes ripening and premature spoiling
Use tired vegetables to make soup. Freeze it for winter if need be.
Freeze surplus fruit for smoothies.
Tips for reducing plastic use / packaging
Most snack foods and convenience foods come in some sort of packaging, whether it be plastic, cardboard, paper, polystyrene or foil. This waste adds up in no time. These tricks can help to reduce food related packaging waste:
Take your own fabric bags, rather than buying plastic packets
Buy large packets of snacks (eg. peanuts and raisins) and portion out into small tubs
Buy a large tub of yoghurt and portion into small tubs. Large tubs can be used for storage of many children’s play activities such as homemade playdough
Extra health tip – this is a great opportunity to dilute flavoured yoghurt with plain yoghurt to reduce the overall sugar content.
Use lightweight cotton bags when purchasing loose fresh produce
Limit the purchasing of ready chopped vegetables
Bake your own muffins
Extra health tip – this is a good opportunity to reduce the sugar content and up the fibre content
Use re-sealable plastic bags that can be reused rather than plastic wrap for lunch boxes
Do not buy bottled water. Investing in a water filter for your household tap will save money in the long run, not to mention a heap of plastic.
Buy pasta in a box rather than a plastic bag. Choose products sold in cardboard whenever possible.
Buy condiments and oil in glass jars rather than plastic bottles.
Grow your own herbs – fresh herbs are generally sold in plastic containers or packets
Do not use straws or buy sweets with plastic sticks
Eco-bricking is a wonderful way to condense non-recyclable plastic or other food packaging such as foil. Simply, fill a 2 L cold drink bottle with any plastic and use a dowel stick to compress it. An eco-brick should be filled to the brim and weigh at least 500 g for it to be used in various building projects. There are collection points for these eco-bricks but whatever happens to it, the end result is a condensing of a large amount of plastic that will not harm our wildlife or litter our beaches.