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How to make eco-friendly food choices

Written by Adelle Rutch | Monday, 11 July 2022


Australia’s ecological footprint is high. Really, really high. This means that as individuals (whilst it can feel overwhelming) it is important we ensure that our choices are eco-friendly, within as many facets of our life as possible.

The health of our planet does directly correlate to our health. The two co-exist, and it is important to take care of our planet in order for us to have a sustainable and healthy future. Whilst sustainable energy is a big part of our footprint, we can do our bit by choosing sustainable products where available and possible.

A (not so) fun fact that I recently learned is that Australia wastes 3 million tonnes of food per year. This is an eye-watering amount, and we can (and should) do our bit to reduce this. So, what can you do when purchasing products? How can you make sure that a company has a small footprint if you are purchasing packaged items? There are some brands out there, shining a light on sustainability and doing great things but here are some choices you can make at home.

  • Go organic. Organic products do not use synthetic chemicals, fertilisers, food irradiation or genetically modified ingredients. Organic farming practices can reduce soil degradation and, to an extent, erosion by taking care of what is already there. When looking for a product, ensure that the ingredients are certified organic. Otherwise, a brand could be simply using it as a hype word to draw you in as there is no requirement on how the word ‘organic’ is used to market a product. Organic can be dearer, so even swapping some produce and packaged foods over for organic is better than none. If we all do our little bit, this is where the big change happens.
  • Purchase in season. Seasonal food ensures the freshest food possible and also means less time storing the food or transporting it from an overseas source. The added bonus of eating seasonally is that the food is just as nature intended us to eat, and is often gentler on the hip pocket too.
  • Choose a product that uses “ugly” food to save it from going to waste. Many brands are jumping on board with this concept now and it helps to rescue some of the food that would otherwise have gone into landfills.
  • Go plant-based. Or look for sustainably farmed animal products, ideally from a local farmer. Plant-based foods, generally (although, depending on farming practices, this can be debated) have a lower impact on the planet. Getting more plants into our diet is only ever going to be a positive move for planet Earth, and for our health.
  • Ditch the packaging. Have you heard of the old saying that you should mainly shop on the outside of a supermarket (e.g fruit and vegetables!). Packaged foods, unless in certified home compostable packing, are often wrapped in plastic, and once the plastic is in our ecosystem it is there forever. It never ever breaks down. There are so many implications of microplastics that we are seeing in the health of our ecosystem and our bodies, it is time to really focus on reducing our reliance on plastic. On this note, did you know there are different types of compostable packaging? Certified home compostable is what will break down in your compost, while others labelled ‘compostable’ require an industrial composter.
  • Fairtrade. Fairtrade products support the health and wellbeing of the farmer that the ingredients or product is sourced. It also helps to protect the land that is being farmed.
  • Locally grown ingredients. Whilst some ingredients simply can’t be grown here due to climate, altitude etc, choose products that are locally grown or contain locally grown ingredients where possible. This reduces food the mileage required to transport food, which then decreases our footprint.
  • Don’t waste! Choose food that can be stored or consumed bit by bit, rather than thrown out if not consumed within a certain period of days.
  • Limit your trips to the shop. Goodbye, impulse buying! Try to do your shopping once a week in whatever form suits your family. Perhaps even sign up for a subscription with your favourite brand so that you know what you’re getting and when. This can then be tailored to your consumption needs.

Share these tips with your friends and family. Start the conversation about what we as individuals can do better. Because big changes happen when we all do a little bit, together.

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Adelle Rutch

Adelle is a nutritional medicine student who shares her tips on clean, green, eco-friendly living. She is also the author of the Green Living Guide eBook.

Read more by Adelle Rutch