A recent Greendex.com survey on environmental impacts of consumer behaviors in 18 countries reports that more Americans are eating local and organic foods and say they’re going to consume less meat and bottled water. Nevertheless, we continue to eat the most processed and packaged foods and the fewest fruits and vegetables of all the countries surveyed. Evidently, we need to literally put our money where our mouths are.
The Greendex survey cites several basic ways to make our diets more sustainable. These include eating more vegetables and less beef and lamb (recognizing the greater environmental impact of raising animals); participating and supporting community supported agriculture and fishery initiatives; economizing meal planning; and storing food properly in the refrigerator to maximize space and freshness periods.
When grocery shopping, peruse the perimeter aisles first, where whole foods are stocked, instead of the interior shelves, which typically comprise processed foods according to MotherEarthLiving.com.
More cooperation between the public and private sectors and individual involvement can also increase sustainability in communities around the world. Rachael Durrant, Ph.D., a research fellow with the UK-based Sustainable Lifestyles Research Group, cites in a recent paper the need for improved understanding of the key roles that civil society organizations play within processes of large-scale social change and warned that many communities are vulnerable to grave environmental and social risks.
Durrant lauds “greener, fairer and healthier practices, such as community gardening or cookery classes,” plus “those that change the rules of the game through campaigns or lobbying to coordinate and facilitate activities of other groups.” Supporting food and farming management that’s independent, cooperative and welcomes volunteers, for example, is highly beneficial.