5 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint with Food
Updated: Nov 14, 2021
Here are five easy steps you can take to reduce your dietary carbon footprint, from today.
Reducing our carbon footprint is a target for many of us. We’ve heard about switching to renewable energy, flying less, and using public transport... but have you ever considered the carbon footprint of your food?
Around 15% of our individual carbon footprint comes from the food we choose. And a WWF report reckons we need to shrink this to 11% daily by 2030. But where do you even start?!
Well, you don’t need to go veggie or vegan to lower your carbon emissions with food. Floop was created so that, together, everyone can tweak their individual diet to become more sustainable.
Here are 5 easy steps you can take to reduce your dietary carbon footprint.
1. Swap in plant-powered gains
It’s well-known that producing meat has a significant impact on the environment. Swapping animal protein for plant-based protein, even once per week, is an easy way to start reducing your dietary climate impact.
Many people worry about not getting enough of, or the right sort, of protein from plants. Eating a variety of different plant-protein sources daily, like beans, rice, nuts and seeds, means your body can get all the amino acids it needs. But there are several complete protein sources, meaning they contain all essential amino acids, in plants too.
Take edamame and soybeans for example. These complete proteins produce an astonishing 71 times less CO2 than beef per gram. Soy products like tofu, tempeh and miso give a delicious variety of ways to create lower-carbon, protein-rich meals.
I’ve fallen in love with tempeh (pronounced: tem-pay), a pressed soy-bean block originating from Indonesia. Tempeh has a nutty flavour and meaty texture that drinks up marinades and seasoning. It's a great substitute for bacon, ribs and beef.
2. Eat until you feel 80% full
By eating more food than our bodies need, we demand more than needed from the world’s resources. More food is farmed to fuel the way we eat, which means more land is needed, more carbon emissions are produced and more freshwater is used up.
It’s estimated that the excess food we’ve eaten in Europe generated greenhouse gases equivalent to 66 billion kilos of CO2 in just one year!
Overeating puts a strain on our planet and on our physical and emotional health, too. Keeping an eye on when and how much you eat can help reduce your personal climate impact, as well as lowering your risk of chronic diseases and some cancers.
Okay then, how much food do we actually need? Well, the UK’s reference intakes are a good place to start. Eating until you feel about 80% full is another way to measure whether you’ve eaten enough. This is even a Japanese open-secret to a long life!
It takes 15 to 20 minutes after eating for our tummies to realise “I’m full”. So, when you start feeling like you couldn’t eat an apple, give your brain and belly time to sync up.
3. Make a shopping list
Food waste adds a big mark to our carbon footprint. Every soggy cucumber, mouldy apple and gone-off yoghurt needed a lot of energy and water to create.
Around 15% of dietary CO2-equivalent emissions are from food waste. In fact, food waste makes a double assault on our atmosphere. Not only does food production create greenhouse gases, but wasted food creates methane gas as it breaks down in landfill.
Planning your meals for the week is an easy way to prevent food waste and lower your food-related carbon emissions.
Factor in leftovers and write a shopping list to only buy what you need. Your wallet will thank you, too!
4. Re-use your food packaging
Food packaging is controversial. Many of us are embattled in a war against plastics, with the image of plastic-trapped sea turtles in our mind.
The reason the battle seems never-ending is because plastic is such a low cost, low weight solution to preventing food waste – a significant contributor to CO2 emissions.
However, plastics are made from non-renewable materials, which use huge amounts of energy and release large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere too.
One thing’s for sure: reusing or reducing packaging is a much better option for the environment than making new plastic, or even glass and cans, from scratch.
Reuse bags to carry unpackaged fruit and veg, or top-up empty cartons and jars at refill stations for store cupboard essentials.
I believe that buying products is a powerful way to influence social change you want to see. After all, businesses go where the money is. If you need to choose food items already wrapped up, be sure to look for brands that use minimal recycled packaging or recyclable materials.
5. Grow your own food
Growing your own food is like magic. From seemingly nothing, you can watch your seed grow into abundance. Growing your own food gives a fresh appreciation for the time, energy, water and care that goes into growing a single ingredient. You’ll want to say “bye-bye” to food waste.
You don’t need an allotment or vegetable garden to start growing your own food. Start easy: fresh herbs, pea shoots, edible flowers and radishes are all easy to grow on your windowsill. You can even plant leftover garlic cloves and spring onion roots from your supermarket!
When it comes to reducing your carbon emissions, there are more wins from grow-your-own too. You’ll likely grow seasonal ingredients that don’t need energy-intensive heating. Transport-related carbon emissions for your ingredients will be next to nothing. And you don’t need packaging or CO2 preservatives to take your food from the “farm” to your plate.
All five easy steps have a positive effect on your climate impact. If everyone takes small actions like these, together we can make huge dent in our carbon footprint.
Let us know what you think to these tips 👇 Are there any you're already using? What are you excited to start doing differently now?
Clark Chai, Bingli, et al. “Which Diet Has the Least Environmental Impact on Our Planet? A Systematic Review of Vegan, Vegetarian and Omnivorous Diets.” Sustainability, vol. 11, no. 15, 2019, p. 4110. MDPI . Accessed 15 April 2021.
Totti, Elisabetta, et al. “Metabolic Food Waste and Ecological Impact of Obesity in FAO World's Region.” Frontiers in Nutrition, vol. 6, no. 126, 2019, p. 1. Metabolic Food Waste and Ecological Impact of Obesity in FAO World's Region, Accessed 15 April 2021.
Fukkoshi, Yuko, et al. “The relationship of eating until 80% full with types and energy values of food consumed.” Eating Behaviours, vol. 17, no. 1873-7358, 2015, pp. 153-6. PubMed. Accessed 13 April 2021.
Adhikari, Bijaya K., et al. “Predicted growth of world urban food waste and methane production.” Waste Management & Research: The Journal for a Sustainable Circular Economy, vol. 24, no. 5, 2006, pp. 421-433. Sage Journals, 2021. Accessed 15 April 2021.
Guillard, Valérie, et al. “The Next Generation of Sustainable Food Packaging to Preserve Our Environment in a Circular Economy Context.” Frontiers in Nutrition, vol. 5, no. 121, 2018, p. 1. Frontiers. Accessed 15 April 2021.