Eat seasonal

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Updated on October 25, 2019

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In most climates, different fruits and vegetables are grown and harvested naturally depending on the season. For instance, winter foods include kale, oranges, and pumpkin, while strawberries, tomatoes, zucchini, and plums are typically summer foods (unless you are lucky enough to live somewhere where they are grown year-round). At the grocery store, we can find foods that aren’t in season because they are either transported from faraway regions where they are in season, or they are produced in artificial conditions that require extra assistance such as energy or water (i.e., heated greenhouses). If produce is transported long distances, it is usually picked early before it’s fully ripened. This means that chemicals and waxes (such as ripening chemicals, preservatives, and irradiation) are often sprayed onto the produce to protect it during the trip. Eating seasonally means you are likely avoiding the chemicals, food miles, and the extra energy it takes to eat foods that aren’t in season. In addition, seasonal foods can be less expensive and taste better. Because it is picked only when it’s naturally ripe, seasonal produce retains all of the nutrients and flavor that is lost when food is harvested prematurely.

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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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