5 Ways to Live More Sustainably (Food Edition)
March 29, 2019
When Simply Saffy first started, its focus was solely on sustainable and ethical fashion. I was shaken to my core after seeing what was happening in the fashion industry and felt so passionately about spreading the word. Since then, my ethical motivation has bled into all areas of my life: how I eat, how I consume products, and generally the decisions I make each and every day.
It took me years to become more sustainable and I’m by no means perfect so I know I’ve got room for improvement. But, I wanted to share the things I’ve introduced into my life that has me living far more sustainably than I did even two years ago. The changes are easy. Truly. Once you start making small switches, the practices become second-nature and really become habits that don’t take much thought to implement each and every day. I believe this from the bottom of my heart which is why I wanted to write this post. There are a plethora of “how to” posts around sustainability and it can seem preachy or daunting. But after having done this myself over the past few years, I believe that change is easily doable and comes by just taking that first step.
Making an effort to live more sustainably is not just a choice anymore. It’s a necessity. Our planet depends on it and so do future generations.
I’ve written this post specifically for your food habits. This seems to be the biggest area I’ve made sustainable switches, but I am writing another lifestyle post that tackles a few other areas too (let me know if there is anything specifically you want me to include in that one!). These, however, were my first changes and most impactful for every day living.
Let’s dig in shall we:
Reusable produce bags
Why pack your veggies in one-time-use, plastic bags when you can easily pop them in machine-washable, reusable bags? I simply keep these inside my reusable grocery tote so I never forget them!
I got these from Bed Bath & Beyond a few years ago and really love them! They’re mesh (so the cashier can easily see what the produce is you’ve stuffed inside!) but don’t include a tare weight on the outside which is the only downside (the cashier will subtract the tare weight of the bag from the final weight so you only get charged for the produce weight itself!). I did, however, find these ones that are mesh and also have the tare weight on them for you!
Reusable bulk bin bags
I only just recently got these for the exact same reason the produce bags are so effective – why put all of this yumminess in plastic when you can just reuse a bag and wash it for the next use (or not! I don’t need to wash my bags after filling them with oats, for example)?!
These bags have the tare weight on them which is brill because they’re thicker/heavier than the produce bags so definitely weigh a little bit on the scales.
Being the olive addict I am (specifically Castlevetranos), I’m at the olive bar weekly topping up for the week. Take your mason jar to the cashier when you first walk into the supermarket. Have them weigh it on their scales and then just write the weight on the lid of your mason jar in a Sharpie for them to easily see each use!
Reusable grocery bag
Probably the easiest switch you could make today. I use a wide-range of grocery bags from the ones they sell in Whole Foods to bags I got clothing purchases in to giveaway bags I’ve been given. It doesn’t matter what you use, so long as you’re refusing the plastic and paper bags (<– yes, even those) at the supermarket when possible. These live in the back of my car so I never have an excuse when I pop to the supermarket!
Reusable water bottle
I carry a reusable water bottle with me practically everywhere I go. This Hydroflask water bottle has become my favourite for a few reasons: It is a double walled, vacuum insulated, & stainless steel bottle that is sturdy, BPA-free, and holds a LOT of water. I use this one every day and also find that it’s the best one to take with me when I travel!
Reusable coffee cup
Grabbing a cup of coffee whilst out and about is all too common for every one of us. You know you’re going to get the urge while you’re out so why not have a coffee cup with you handy at all times? I keep my KeepCup coffee mug in the back of my car so it’s always handy! If I’m driving with other people, I typically bring my Yeti tumbler which has the option for both hot or cold coffees.
What I love about KeepCup is their promotion of responsible and ethical business practices which is reason-enough to want to support this Australian brand! The handle is made of scrap cork from Portugal’s wine cork production. They try to use sustainable and renewable materials and first look to upcycling where possible. Bloody love this brand!
Reusable bamboo straws
Keeping straws with you at all times (whether in your handbag, boot of your car, or at home ready to grab and take with you) is a must. I take these Vivir Verde bamboo straws with me everywhere I go (in the boot of my car) and because a pack comes with varying widths/sizes, I’ve been able to use them for drinks from lemonades to smoothies and coffees. Bamboo straws vs. metal make the transition from plastic much easier. If you’re a straw biter, these are much less painful when you accidentally forget you’re not chewing on a plastic straw. They also don’t get super cold like metal ones so you’re mouth and teeth are never affected by the temperature of the drink you’re consuming.
3. Plant-Based Diet
Did you know? 25% direct methane emissions come from animal agriculture on factory farms around the world. More and more studies show that going vegan is the single biggest way to reduce our environmental impact on the planet. With over a 300% growth since 2017, eating vegan has become popular which has in turn increased the demand across restaurants and supermarkets nation/world-wide. If you don’t have access to vegan-alternative foods, making them from scratch is just as good if not better!
I’ve recreated my go-to Vegan Buddha Bowl recipe for you here. Once everything is prepped, I make this bowl in 10 minutes and it’s full of wonderful flavours, bright colours, and so much nutrition to keep me full for hours.
For the longest time, I’ve used paper napkins on a day-to-day basis and cloth/fabric ones only for “special occasions” or when we had guests round. One day I noticed we had run out of napkins and was going to write it on our Costco list when the thought hit me that I could be living more sustainably by switching to reusable napkins every day. I was kindly sent the most gorgeous, ethically-made linen napkins and table mats from Acacia Creations and I’m absolutely in love with them!
Get ready to significantly reduce the amount of parchment paper you use in your kitchen! This French-based silicone mat will replace the need for butter, grease, oil, and sprays and is now used 99% of the time in my kitchen except for when I need to put something on broil. You cannot broil with this, only bake. The majority of my cooking is on the ‘bake’ setting so I haven’t run into this yet! The Silpat washes super easily and is the perfect reusable item to keep handy in the kitchen!
Food waste has become a new fascination of mine after watching “Wasted!” (an Anthony Bourdain documentary covering the shocking stories of food waste across the globe). Immediately after watching this film I felt responsible for reducing my footprint on this planet. Having switched to a more plant-based/less-processed diet, I knew that most of my waste was now organic and I needed to make an effort to adjust my habits in order to help save the planet.
Incorporating a composting bin (I got this compost bin from Amazon) into my food prep routine has been absolutely wonderful! I make regular trips to my local community composting site/garden where I discard of my waste properly and have peace of mind that they are properly taking care of this matter. Eventually (once I’m settled somewhere more permanently) I’ll have my own at-home compost bin where I can manage all of this myself!
I hope you found this list helpful! It took me a couple of years to recognize where I wasn’t being the most sustainable and to finally make the switch. So, I hope I’ve shortened your transition even a little bit!
Just take one step, incorporate it into your routine and you’ll notice the new habit has formed incredibly quickly. Before you know it, you’ll be living far more sustainably than you ever were and you’ll love doing so. Truly! It brings me such happiness when the barista expresses joy in me bringing my reusable coffee mug with me to their coffee shop.
It’s the small steps you take every day that I promise you make a big difference for our planet!