Eat local

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Updated on October 25, 2019

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Food travels an average of 1,500 miles from the farm to your table. Even though this number depends on where you live, it illustrates that our food often travels a long way to get to us and every mile means energy use and associated carbon emissions. The environmental impact of food transport depends on the mode of transportation (e.g., trains are better than trucks), but, in general, reducing the miles your food travels is a good thing. Nowadays it’s likely you can find locally sourced meat and produce where you live, and by buying locally, you support the farmers in your area and your local economy.

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If you see restaurants, stores, or other types of companies that are incorporating sustainability, consider choosing these options and make your support for sustainability known. It encourages other businesses to become sustainable as well. You may also come across a nonprofit or community organization that you believe is doing valuable work. Why not donate or reach out to see how you can support their efforts? You can consider volunteering, even if it’s only for one day, to give back to the local area you’re visiting.

Carry and use washable, reusable utensils when possible.

Many airlines are now offering passengers the option to purchase carbon offsets when booking a flight, which means you can pay extra to fund a project that reduces GHG emissions, “neutralizing” your flight. Carbon offset projects include supporting forest conservation in California, capturing GHG emissions from landfills in South Carolina, or renewable energy in Texas. Airlines are also taking measures to reduce their own environmental impact such as making planes and fleets more energy efficient and looking for alternative sources of energy.

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Using reusable bags (cloth, paper, or plastic) or hand-carrying items (if you’re only picking up a few things) both are ways to cut down on plastic waste. Many cities have banned plastic bags altogether, and some stores now charge for bags that just a few years ago were free. Even if your city hasn’t made the move on plastic bags yet, you can take matters into your own hands by remembering your reusable bags.

We tend to make too much food for parties. This is especially true during the holidays since it’s usually part of the holiday culture to make sure everyone has all the food and beverage they can handle, and then some. This excess is ultimately bad for the environment. However, tracking your RSVPs closely and keeping a headcount should help you avoid making this classic mistake that ultimately contributes to food waste. Of course, some extra food is not disastrous (everyone loves leftovers), but it is something to be mindful of.

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