Over the last two years, five women from Swarthmore, PA joined together on a journey towards eco-friendlier lifestyles. As they experimented with various ways of conservation, they have recorded their results based on the numbers: energy saved, trash weight reduced, water used.
All over the world, people are making small and large changes to their lifestyles that are helping reduce their footprint in a variety of ways: energy used, water wasted, pesticides sprayed. Here’s the story of Jan, a woman in Oakland, California who decided to stop buying packaged food.
I work as a Web Developer in Oakland. A couple of years ago I decided to change my diet for health reasons. It was not that I was eating all that unhealthy, and I do not have any serious health issues, but rather I believed I could improve my chances of staying healthy by eating a more plant based, whole food diet. One consequence of this change has been reduction of waste. Now that I am not eating processed food, there is no packaging going into the garbage can.
Making the decision to change
I had read a couple of books by Michael Pollan that convinced me that the way our food is produced and brought to market is harming our environment and our health. I gradually switched to buying organic, first with the foods with heavier chemical residue like apples and strawberries, and then organic where ever possible.
Sticking with healthy eating
I continued reading books about diet and health which kept me motivated: The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller and The Inflammation Syndrome by Jack Challem, to name a few. In order to keep to a whole food diet, I spend more time cooking and preparing food than I used to. I bring my lunch to work every day, which cuts down on the wasteful to-go containers I used to bring back to the office. A group of co-workers and I started what we called “Lunch Pod” as a way to bring healthy lunches to the workplace. One day a week we cook for the group, bringing in a dish that is plant based, whole grain, and organic. This is a wonderful way to support each other in our endeavors to eat a healthy lunch. Sharing recipes and ideas for healthier eating is inspiring and helps motivate me to continue cooking and bringing in food for my lunch.
Sending less to the landfill
My garbage can goes out to the curb each week with very little in it. Most of kitchen waste goes into the green can for composting and where I live we can recycle plastic bags along with our paper, cans, and bottles. Even my recycling bin has less in it because I no longer open cans and use just a few items in jars or bottles (e.g. mustard, oil, vinegar).
Although reducing waste was not my goal, it is definitely another reason to move away from packaged and processed foods.
Do you have a story to share?
Jan’s story demonstrates that often what is better for our bodies–eating more whole foods–is also better for the earth. Through our new Personal Story feature, you can share your tale, big or small, of what you’re doing to help create a more sustainable, just and fulfilling future.