good things guide | the food issue

Food is an essential, integral, and sacred part of our lives. It always has been. It’s a part of our future too.

Our relationship with food and its production has changed dramatically over time. Some of our approaches to food including agriculture, preparation, consumption, and waste have had negative effects on the well-being of the Earth. Food production is now a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and creates other types of pollution too.

But we can’t live without food.

Therefore, reimagining the entire food system is crucial in our efforts to preserve our environment.

That’s a lot to ask of an everyday consumer. So here is a collection of six relatively small ways that changing what and how you eat can make a big difference.

support local food systems

support local food systems

1500 miles is the average distance a meal is estimated to travel from farm to plate in the United States.

Shipping foods over long distances every day uses a lot of fossil fuels and creates a lot of emissions.

Eating foods grown and processed locally is not only more environmentally friendly: Local foods are fresher, more nutritious, and come in more varieties.

Supporting local farmers today also ensures that local farms remain viable, preserving the agricultural landscape for generations to come.

reduce food waste

reduce food waste

A third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork.

Uneaten food wastes a host of resources; seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, labor, and capital while generating greenhouse gases at every stage. The food we waste is responsible for roughly 8% of global emissions

We can be less picky and not reject food based on bumps, bruises, or coloring. More importantly, don't order, buy, or serve too much.

consume fewer animal products

eat fewer animal products

Animal products generate the majority of food-related greenhouse gas emissions, at around 70 - 80%. Raising animals for food uses over 80% of all land suitable for agriculture. Not to mention the amount of water needed. That’s a highly ineffective return on our precious resources.

Commit to eating a percentage of your meals as vegetarian or vegan each week to lessen the impact of food production on the planet.

convert to compost

convert to compost

Food is the number one source of waste making it into landfills across the country, more than even plastic or paper.

Landfills lack the proper conditions for this waste to break down. Instead, this waste creates methane which can be 30x more potent than CO2 as a heat-trapping gas

Composting leftover food and garden scraps provide an opportunity to reduce our collective waste and combat to climate change. As a bonus, you can also create healthy, nutrient-dense soil for your garden.

choose forest-friendly foods

choose forest friendly foods

Coffee, cacao, palm oil, and soybeans are just some of the many popular foods grown in rainforests across the world. Global demand for these products has grown a lot. Unfortunately, so has deforestation.

In fact, agriculture drives up to 80% of deforestation worldwide, and it’s had devastating effects on critical ecosystems and the communities that depend on them.

When possible, look for forest products displaying the Rainforest Alliance certification: they’ve met rigorous standards for environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

Remember your reusable bags

remember your reusable bags

Over 5 trillion plastic bags are produced worldwide every year. And they each take an estimated 1000 years to break down! That’s a massive environmental cost for only a few moments of use.

Paper bags aren’t all that great either.

Making a habit of bringing your reusable bag to the store will help cut down on the plastic pollution harming ecosystems, wildlife, and people, too.

SOURCES: All information was sourced, either directly or indirectly, from the Drawdown Eco Challenge Website at

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