Eco-Friendly Ideas for Sustainable Eating
● By Family Features
In many American households, once-unfamiliar sustainability practices have become commonplace. Current data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows a national recycling rate of about 34 percent, more than double the 16 percent rate in 1990. Even so, more than 167 million tons of waste still ends up in landfills each year.
Food waste is a major contributor to landfill excess, representing about 35 million tons annually. However, because food is such an integral aspect of daily life, it’s also an area where small changes can add up to a big impacts.
These eco-friendly tips can make it easier to move toward more sustainable consumption:
Plan a weekly menu. If you typically take a casual approach to grocery shopping, you’re likely purchasing ingredients for a single meal that could be repurposed two or three times over. This is especially true with produce; unused portions are left to spoil and ultimately end up in the trash. Instead, determine what meals require ingredients to prepare and create a shopping list that maximizes the use of each item. For example, if you’re planning on burgers one night, consider tacos the next evening to use up any leftover lettuce and tomato.
Give leftovers a makeover. If you can’t easily repurpose ingredients or you’re left with a hodge-podge of items, consider making a dish that really shines with an eclectic mix of ingredients. Casseroles, stir-fry and even smoothies are great ways to use up a selection of random ingredients.
Shop smart. Buying in bulk may seem like a smart money-saving strategy, but if the food goes bad before you’re able to use it, you’re actually wasting both food and money. Also take time to peruse your pantry before heading out to the store; it’s easy to buy duplicates when you’re not sure what you have on hand.
Cut back plastics and packaging. Rely on cloth or canvas totes for your shopping, and when you must use plastic, look for ways to reuse the bags. In a similar vein, avoid purchasing products with excess packaging, which is often produced using unsustainable methods and only adds to the landfill problem.
Fill the freezer. Many perishable food items, such as meat and produce, can be prepped and frozen, ensuring they don’t go bad and saving you cooking time throughout the week. Clear, reusable storage bags or containers make it easy to find what you need and a date marked on a small piece of masking tape will help you use the oldest items first.
Compost unused food items. The EPA estimates that as much as 96 percent of food waste that could be composted ends up in landfills instead. Rather than tossing foods that go bad, create your own compost pile and put that waste to work as a natural fertilizer for your plants and flowers. Composted fertilizer is a nutrient-rich way to protect your landscape while reducing landfill waste.
It’s been said that the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s also a place where you can easily incorporate responsible, earth-friendly practices that can help nourish the planet for generations to come. Find more tips for sustainable consumption at elivingtoday.com.
3 Simple Rules for Healthy, Happy Eggs
When you head to the grocery store for organic eggs, you assume a certain level of quality in how your eggs were produced. While there are standards and requirements that companies follow in labeling their eggs, the standards lack regulation and don’t truly reflect whether or not hens are treated humanely.
The USDA’s latest proposed outdoor space requirements would give hens a mere 2 square feet of space in order to carry the USDA organic label. To put things into perspective, the average cubicle size in the U.S. is 75 square feet. The proposed requirements are the human equivalent of running laps in an elevator, essentially.
While an improved organic standard would be a step in the right direction, it makes no headway in terms of alleviating consumer confusion over carton labeling. Rather than providing animal welfare-conscious consumers with the confidence that they are purchasing humanely produced eggs, it proposes living conditions for hens that are neither humane nor safe. Consumers should be able to trust the packaging, labels and imagery that they find on their carton of eggs, but oftentimes these labels say little to nothing about the way the hens were treated.
To reinforce the integrity of the organic seal, hens should be given far more space than what has been outlined by the USDA. In order for hens to live happier, healthier lives, the happy egg co., the first U.S. free-range egg brand to be certified by the American Humane Association, abides by three simple rules:
- Give Them Space: The happy egg co. provides 21.8 square feet of space per hen, which is equivalent to roughly 20 shoe boxes high, long and wide – plenty of space for them to stretch their wings, dust bathe, forage and roam freely.
- Give Them Enrichment: Providing hens with “hen-richment” structures, including play kits and perches, encourages them to spend most of their day outside. This enrichment is meant to stimulate their natural instincts, which can only be exhibited outside of a cage or barn.
- Keep Consumers Safe: The FDA requires that egg producers test for salmonella once in a hen’s lifespan, but testing for salmonella every 15 weeks helps ensure that only the highest quality eggs enter the food chain.
For more information about hen welfare and making humane purchasing decisions at the grocery store, visit thehappyeggco.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (grocery shopping)
Free-range hens on a happy egg co. farm, photo courtesy of the happy egg co. (hens on farm)