Many people feel the urgent need to mitigate their effects on Earth due to the devastating effects of climate change and resource depletion.
One strategy is to reduce your carbon footprint, which is a measure of your total greenhouse gas emissions, not only from driving or using electricity but also lifestyle choices, such as the clothes you wear and Eat food. While there are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint, dieting is a good place to start.
In fact, some research suggests that changing the Western diet to a more sustainable diet could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% and water consumption by 50% (1 trusted source).
Here are 9 easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint through diet and lifestyle choices.
Food waste is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. This is because the food that is thrown away dissolves in the landfills and emits methane, especially the powerful greenhouse gas (2 trusted sources, 3, 4).Over a 100-year period, methane has been estimated to have a 34-fold effect on global warming compared to carbon dioxide (5, 6). It is currently estimated that each person on Earth loses an average of 428–858 pounds (194–389 kg) of food.
Reducing food waste is one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Planning ahead for meals, saving leftovers, and buying only what you need goes a long way toward saving food.
Using less plastic is an important part of the transition to an eco-friendly lifestyle. Plastic wrapping, plastic bags, and plastic storage containers are commonly used by consumers and the food industry for packing, shipping, storing, and transporting food. Nevertheless, disposable plastics are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (8 trusted sources, 9). Here are some tips to help you use less plastic:
Research shows that reducing your meat intake is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint (1 trusted source, 10 trusted source).
In a study of 16,800 Americans, the foods that emit the most greenhouse gases were beef, veal, pork and other rumored meats. Meanwhile, meat also had the lowest emissions of greenhouse gases (10 trusted sources). Studies around the world support these findings (11 trusted sources, 12 trusted sources, 13 trusted sources). This is because emissions from livestock production – especially beef and dairy cattle – represent 14.5% of the world’s human-generated greenhouse gas emissions (14). You can try limiting your meat dishes to one meal a day, eating a meat-free meal one day a week, or testing a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
Eating more plant-based protein can dramatically reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.
In one study, people with the lowest emissions of greenhouse gases had the highest amounts of plant-based proteins, including beans, nuts and seeds – and the lowest amounts of animal protein (10 trusted sources). However, you do not need to completely eliminate animal protein from your diet. A study of 55,504 people found that those who ate moderate amounts of meat daily – 1.8–3.5 ounces (50–100 grams) – had significantly less carbon footprint than those who ate 3.5 ounces daily. Eat more than (100 grams) (15 trusted source). For reference, a serving of meat is approximately 3 ounces (85 grams). If you regularly eat more than that every day, try to replace more plant-based proteins such as beans, tofu, nuts and seeds.
Reducing dairy products, including milk and cheese, is another way to reduce your carbon footprint. A study of 2,101 Dutch adults found that dairy products are the second largest contributor to individual greenhouse gas emissions – behind only meat (16 trusted sources). Similarly, other studies have concluded that dairy production plays an important role in climate change. Dairy cattle and their fertilizers emit greenhouse gases such as methane, carbon dioxide, nitric oxide, and ammonia (1 trusted source, 10 trusted source, 17 trusted source, 18 trusted source, 19 trusted source). In fact, since cheese consumes a lot of milk, it is more likely to emit greenhouse gases than animal products such as pork, eggs and chicken (20 trusted sources). To get started, try eating less cheese and replacing dairy milk with plant-based alternatives such as almond or soy milk.
Eating high-fiber foods not only improves your health but can also reduce your carbon footprint. A study of 16,800 Americans found that the lowest greenhouse gas emissions were high in fiber-rich plant foods and saturated fat and sodium (10 trusted sources). These foods can help keep you full, naturally limiting the amount of items you have with heavy carbon loads. In addition, adding more fiber to your diet can improve your digestive health, balance your intestinal bacteria, promote weight loss, and prevent diseases such as heart disease, colorectal cancer, and diabetes. Can help save (21, 22, 23, 24, 25 trusted sources).
Growing your own produce in a community garden or in your own backyard is associated with many benefits, including stress reduction, better food quality, and better emotional health (26 trusted sources). Planting on a plot of land, whatever the size, can also reduce your carbon footprint. This is because growing fruits and vegetables reduces your reliance on the use of your plastic packaging and long-distance production (27 trusted sources). Practicing organic farming practices, recycling rainwater, and composting can further reduce your environmental impact (28 trusted sources, 29 trusted sources, 30 trusted sources).
Eating too many calories from your body can lead to weight gain and related diseases. In addition, it is associated with higher greenhouse gas emissions (31 trusted sources). A study of 3,818 Dutch people found that those who emitted more greenhouse gases ate more calories than those who drank less greenhouse gas emissions (32 trusted sources). Similarly, a study of 16,800 Americans found that those who emitted the most greenhouse gases ate 2.5 times more calories than those with the lowest emissions (10 trusted sources). Keep in mind that this only applies to people who eat more, not to people who are eating enough calories to maintain a healthy body weight. Your caloric needs depend on your height, age and activity level. If you are not sure if you are consuming too many calories, consult a nutritionist or healthcare professional. Some options to reduce your calorie intake include eliminating malnutrition, eliminating calorie rich foods such as candy, soda, fast food and baked goods.
9. Buy local food.
Helping local farmers is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Buying locally reduces your dependence on food that takes you too far and can increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, thereby reducing your carbon emissions. Helps Eating seasonal foods and helping organic farmers are additional ways to reduce your footprint. This is because out-of-season food is usually imported or takes more energy to grow due to the need for warmer greenhouses (33 trusted sources). Additionally, switching to local, sustainably produced animal products such as eggs, poultry, and dairy can reduce your carbon footprint. In the same way you can get more appreciation for the unique food of your area.
Revamping your diet is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint, which can also improve your health. By making simple changes, such as eating fewer animal products, using less plastic, eating more fresh produce, and reducing your food waste, you can significantly reduce your personal greenhouse gas emissions. Keep in mind that seemingly small efforts can make a big difference. You can also take your neighbors and friends for a ride.