Every year, we have the best of intentions about writing a full set of New Year’s resolutions to improve our mind, our health, and the world around us. Sometimes, though, resolution-creating can get a little overwhelming. Of course we want to carpool more, take 10,000 steps per day, drink the recommended amount of water, read 12 books, and everything else that experts suggest as a quality resolution. Keeping all of those things in mind over the course of a year, however — well, that’s a little difficult.
Our solution? Keep your focus on specific, actionable items in a certain area. For example, we all want to be more sustainable and environmentally-friendly in our everyday lives, and there’s no shortage of ways to achieve that goal.
So, to keep things attainable, we’re focusing our eco-friendly New Year’s resolutions in one area we know and love: food and beverage. Read on for our suggestions on how to live a more environmentally mindful life when eating and drinking in 2017.
Bring Your Own Container or Bag to Restaurants and Groceries
Sure, some of you may be #TeamNoLeftovers, and we salute you and your expandable stomachs. But the rest of us often end up with as much as half of our dinner left on our plate. Instead of sending it back with the busboy to be trashed, plan ahead a little and bring your own reusable container to the restaurant. You’ll have lunch for the next day, without any work on your end. As a bonus, the reusable container you bring from home is probably much sturdier than a flimsy single-use carton, so it’ll hold up much better on the way home and to the office the next day.
In the grocery store, start stowing reusable shopping bags and totes in the trunk of your car to use instead of single-use plastic bags and paper bags. Single-use plastic bags are one of the main culprits of the giant trash gyres in the oceans. Plus, cities are beginning to tax the use of these disposable bags when shopping (Chicago, for example, will put a seven-cent tax per single-use plastic or paper bag in effect in 2017).
Cut Back on Food with Excessive Packaging
Have you ever realllllly thought about whether it’s necessary for cereal to be in a bag, in a box? It blew our minds the first time we considered it. At the grocery store, search for products without any unnecessary packaging — so loose fruits and vegetables, for example (looking at you, Whole Foods orange in a plastic container). Can’t avoid a packaged product? Check to see whether the packaging was made from recycled goods, and make sure to recycle (or even better, reuse) the container or packaging when you’re done with it.
Drink from a Reusable Water Bottle or Travel Mug
We’re big advocates of drinking enough water each day, since it benefits your mind, your body, and your mood (you’re welcome, co-workers). But each year, 17 million barrels of oil are used to produce single-use plastic water bottles. Seems excessive, right? We agree, and that’s why we never go anywhere without our BPA-free glass water bottle.
Coffee drinkers, you’re involved too. The average American office worker goes through about 500 disposable cups per year. Bringing your own stainless steel coffee mug makes a big difference for the environment. And bonus? Some coffee chains offer a small discount if you bring your own reusable coffee mug (Starbucks, for example, takes ten cents off your drink cost).
This one requires a little initial homework on your part. Research restaurants and grocery stores that carry food produced close to your home, and make a point to support them with your business. On average, American food travels around 2,000 miles to get to your table; eating locally means reducing shipping and transportation costs, as well as reducing the amount of packaging used in the process.
How will you improve your sustainability in 2017? Let us know your resolutions in the comments!