Post by Debbie Firestone – Program Leader Sustainability, Tweed Shire Council
THE FOOD we eat contributes substantially to our carbon footprint. This is largely because considerable energy is used to grow, process, transport and package food.
Choosing food that has less packaging, is from local sources, and has been produced in a way that makes smart use of water, soil and nutrients is a great way to help reduce our impact on the Earth.
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Local, fresh and tasty
Locally-sourced fresh fruit, vegetables, flour and grains, pulses, nuts and eggs have the lowest greenhouse gas impact even when you factor in greenhouse impacts of fertilisers, fossil fuel use by tractors and transport, water use and impacts on soils. Highly processed foods, long travel distances, electricity and emissions intensive foods add to the greenhouse gas intensity of our diets.
By shopping from farm gates, food co-ops and accredited farmers markets, you’ll know that your food hasn’t travelled far to reach your plate, plus it will stay fresher for longer and you will be eating seasonally, which tastes better, is cheaper and better for the environment.
Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables maximizes your nutritional intake and reduces energy used to grow and transport foods. Out-of-season foods have often been grown in artificial conditions, or grown far away, picked prematurely and transported long distances to get to your local shops. When we eat foods out of season, we miss out on eating food at its prime – when it tastes best and has a higher nutritional value.(1)
Reduce waste & start a compost bin or worm farm
In NSW, we send on average 315 kilograms of food waste to landfill per household per year. By wasting food – fresh fruit and vegetables, leftovers, takeaways, packaged and long-life products, drinks and even frozen food – the average NSW household throws away $1036 a year.(2)
When we throw out food, we’re also wasting the resources that went into growing and transporting food too.
Planning your meals, preparing a shopping list and storing food effectively will help you cut food waste and save you money.
Any food waste that can’t be avoided can be reused in the form of food for chooks or compost for soil.
Using a compost bin or worm farm for your food scraps can reduce the waste you send to landfill by up to 50%.(3)
Using a home composting system also reduces your greenhouse gas emissions because you are preventing methane emissions that occur when organic waste breaks down in the oxygen-starved environment of landfill.
Grow your own
More than half (52 per cent) of all Australian households are growing some of their own food, in order to produce healthier food, save money, produce tastier food and or just for pure enjoyment.(4) Growing your own food reduces your impact on climate change, and helps you tune in to what foods are in season.
Herbs, small fruit trees and many vegetables are easy to grow, even in pots, wherever you have sunlight, soil and water.
Food packaging plays an important role in keeping food fresh to minimise food waste. However, there are easy ways to reduce unnecessary packaging waste, such as:
• buying fresh produce that has not been pre-packaged.
• buying non-perishable items such as rice and lentils in bulk and using your own containers
• taking your own shopping bags
• reuse glass jars for preserving food.
For more simple and cost-effective ways to improve sustainability in your home, come along to Tweed Shire Council’s ‘Living for the Future’ Home Expo on Saturday 23 August 2014 at the Tweed Heads Civic Centre from 9am until 2pm. For full details, visit www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/homeexpo.
1. See more at: http://www.sustainabletable.org.au/Hungryforinfo/What-you-can-do/tabid/121/Default.aspx#sthash.LhJpBkhv.dpuf
3. Australian Conservation Foundation, 2007, The Green Home Guide, Victoria Edition, 2nd Edition Jan 2007, p. 23. – See more at: http://www.sustainabletable.org.au/Hungryforinfo/What-you-can-do/tabid/121/Default.aspx#04
4. Wise P., March 2014, Grow Your Own: The potential value and impacts of residential and community food gardening, The Australia Institute