From plastic waste filling the oceans to climate change, it is clear that the impact of human actions is putting strain on the environment and its many interconnected ecosystems. Therefore, many of us are looking for ways to shift our consumption patterns to lower impact, sustainable options. As a tight budgeting student, I sometimes find these messages alienating, as the cost of sustainable options can often seem much higher that none sustainable options – especially when trying to balancing it with eating healthier and saving time.
A carbon footprint is a measure of how much carbon dioxide is realised as a result of someone or somethings actions. Carbon Dioxide is type of greenhouse gas (GHGs), GHGs cause warming of the atmosphere and thus contribute to climate change. Here are some handy tip to help you try and cut your carbon footprint, whilst eating healthily on a student budget:
Eating UK or locally produced food is a good way to cut your carbon footprint as transportation miles (air and road especially) can make foods have massive impacts. It can often seem to be more expensive or time consuming to do this as you have to find a farmers’ market or similar. In the summer, it is often easy to find UK produced foods in your local supermarkets as this is the biggest season for often consumed vegetables such as tomatoes, just make sure you check the labels before you buy. In the winter, supermarkets often sell a variety of veggies with names such as ‘Spring Greens’, which, from experience, live on the top shelf of the fresh food aisle, around cabbages. These greens are cheap and sourced from the UK and give you a much needed vitamin boost in winter. Put them in a variety of meals from stir-fries to omelettes.
Legumes (for example lentils, chickpeas, beans) are healthy, sustainable options. Legumes are sustainable because of their nitrogen fixing properties, meaning that they improve soil quality, making it more fertile. They are also very low impact, as they do not need much water or additional fertiliser, making them cheap and sustainable for farmers to grow. They can be grown in the Europe and the UK, so you cut down on transportation miles that are often very high with grains such as rice and quinoa. They are cheap (especially dried varieties), very filling and can be used as substitutes for everything from rice to meat.
Cut down on meat
Taking the Worth my Earth pledge to go meatfree one day a week will reduce your carbon footprint, as meat and dairy contribute a lot of CO2 emissions through high water use, high amount of land needed and the food required to feed livestock.