Tip 2: Eat more produce, from good sources.
Adding more fruits, vegetables, and grains is a smart move, for you and the planet. Most doctors advise that these food groups should comprise ¾ of the meal on your plate. Certainly these go easily into salads and side dishes, but lots of produce (asparagus, peppers, corn, onions – and even peaches) can all be thrown on the grill, dressed simply with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar if you like. Grilled veggies are great in warm weather, lower calorie and less costly than meat. You might even consider making them the main event. And, the lower a food is on the food chain, the lower its impact on the environment.
Especially when farms are bursting with ripe, flavorful fruits and vegetables, try to eat as much from local, in-season sources as possible. Even in the winter, local cheeses, eggs and breads make wonderful accompaniments. Whether you frequent farmers markets, subscribe to a farm-share program, or pick your own, buying in-season produce grown close to home reduces the distance food travels from the farm to your table, and the energy required to grow or to store it. All of these factors add up to help cut packaging and carbon pollution.
Tip 3: Aim for a trash-free event.
For many people, the “ease of summer” attitude translates into a lot of throw-away trash from barbecues and picnics. Instead of adding to bulging landfills, make some small investments that will drastically reduce your impact. Swap paper plates and disposable utensils for serving items, beverage containers and cloth napkins that you can wash and use again. You can save money in the long run and make a nicer impression on guests. And, when cleaning up – definitely try to repurpose whatever you can: recycle empty wine bottles, soda cans or mayonnaise jars, and turn your food scraps into compost.
Sarene Marshall is a Senior Advisor for The Nature Conservancy. Opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Nature Conservancy.
Photo by Flickr user joey.parsons (Salmon on the grill. Used under a Creative Commons license.)
By Sarene Marshall, The Nature Conservancy