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Thirty-Three Ways to Eat Environmentally Friendly

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Organic Transitions page.

The sustainable food movement is sweeping the country. Farmer's markets, organic produce, genetically modified foods, cage-free eggs - they've all become part of the cultural lingo. While a lot of this conversation focuses around whether organic foods are better for people's health, let's not forget that these trends are also good for the planet. Read on to learn about the 33 environmentally friendly eating habits that are making a difference for our bodies and our earth.

At the store:

1. Reuse it. Bring a reusable bag on your next shopping trip, and you've already helped out the planet. The U.S. alone uses about 100 billion new plastic bags each year, and (brace yourself) this massive production costs 12 million barrels of oil. Worldwide, only about 1% of plastic bags are recycled - which means that the rest end up in landfills, oceans or elsewhere in the environment. Why does it matter? Plastic bags don't biodegrade, but light exposure can degrade them enough to release toxic polymer particles - most of which end up in the ocean. Approximately 1 million birds and 100,000 turtles and other sea animals die of starvation each year after ingesting plastic bags, which block their digestive tracts. And public agencies spend millions of dollars on litter clean-up each year. (In case you're wondering, paper bags aren't much better. Each year, 14 million trees are cut down to make paper shopping bags via a process that requires even more energy than the making of plastic bags.)

2. Strip down. Look for products with minimal packaging, like unwrapped produce or meat straight from the deli counter or butcher. Excess packaging is often made out of unsustainable materials and contributes to waste that ends up in landfills. Perhaps the worst culprit is polystyrene (a.k.a. Styrofoam), which is a suspected carcinogen and is manufactured through an energy-intensive process that creates hazardous waste and greenhouse gases.


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