June 15, 2010
For my sustainability newsletter I decided to write about one of my favorite things: Food! There are many ways to shop for, cook and handle food smarter with great benefits for the environment. The best part is that saving money and eating healthier often coincide with eating "green."
I've prepared three sections of tips below to help reduce the environmental impact of the way we eat. Enjoy!
Grocery Shopping & Pantry Stocking
Paper or Plastic? Neither!
The question of whether to use paper or plastic shopping bags is debatable. The best way to really make a positive change and reduce unnecessary waste is to bring your own reusable shopping bags that can be used many times. It's not even necessary to go out and buy a fancy bag. Any large shoulder or beach bag could work. If you do end up having to get paper or plastic bags make sure that they are recycled or reused. Also remember you can use the bags at any retail store, not just the supermarket!
Unnecessary Packaging
It's a good idea to buy in bulk and purchase items that are not individually packaged. Not only will this most likely save you money, it will reduce unnecessary packaging. Try to choose the large container over the small one if you know that it will be used. Things like liquid soap can be put into a small dispenser from a large refill bottle. Snacks and single servings can be put into little reusable containers on the go, so it often isn't necessary to buy prepackaged serving sized foods.
Eating Lower on the Food Chain
In general, animal products are not "green" because they require intensive resources to produce. By some estimates, beef consumption is contributing more to global warming than automobile use because of all the land, water, grain and chemicals needed. You don't have to be vegetarian. A good rule of thumb is to eat lower on the food chain, favoring fresh veggies, fruit, grains, beans and tofu over beef, cream, butter, pork and chicken. Opt for organic animal products when you do enjoy them and eat small portions. Make it a goal to eat vegetarian at least one day a week.
Go Local
Buying seasonal, local food from farmers' markets or even known local suppliers in the grocery store is better for the environment for a lot of reasons. Since most food travels many miles to reach your table, locally sourced food cuts back on the climate-change impacts of transportation. Local food also generally uses less packaging, is fresher and tastier, and comes in more varieties. It also supports small local growers and lets them get more for their produce by not having to spend so much on packing, processing, refrigeration, marketing, and shipping.
Super Local: Grow Your Own!
Growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs is a great way to get some organic produce at a fraction of the cost and eliminate shipping and storage that contributes to the industrial food system's large "carbon footprint." Even if space is limited you can grow tomatoes, herbs, potatoes and other necessities easily from your apartment window, balcony or simply the back porch.
Go Organic
Choose organic foods to reduce the impact of farming Organic foods are raised in a sustainable way and are often healthier too. 100% organic is truly organic and the most sustainable choice because it means that no harmful chemicals are used, that animals are raised according to strict standards and that farmland is managed sustainably. There are no hormones used, there's no irradiation, and genetic modification is banned, too.
Eating Green on the Go
Goodbye Bottled Water
Say goodbye to bottled water (and juice, and soda). Bottled water is unnecessary with our access to pure tap water (or possibly filtered), and it's horrible for the environment. Just think: carting water halfway around the world in non-renewable bottles...and paying a premium for this! If you already have a reusable water bottle make sure it's being used, but if not, you can also opt to simply reuse a bottle that you already have.
Bring Your Lunch
Packing your own meals for work or trips is a great way to save you money, eat healthier and reduce the impact on the environment. You will save on all those extra drives to get food on the go which is often not very healthy. Remember to save and use small reusable containers and lunch bags and bring your own silverware and cloth napkins which you can wash at home. Most of us already have a small bag or cooler and enough little containers at home to be able to pack a "green" lunch without buying anything extra.
Plan on Leftovers
Use your leftovers from a big dinner by serving them again for lunch in a day or two or freezing them for future use. You can also turn leftovers into a different type of meal; for example - add that extra rice to a soup the next day. Sometimes you can plan on cooking more than you would eat in one sitting so that you can prepare a few lunches from it and reduce the amount of energy used by cooking a few separate meals.

In the Kitchen

Conscious Cooking
We use a lot of energy when cooking. While there may not be fumes pouring out of your kitchen, they are produced elsewhere; for example, where your electricity is generated. Coal fired electricity generation is a major contributor to carbon dioxide emissions. Experiment with shutting the stove off just before the food is done instead of waiting until the very end. Also remember to cover up pots and pans to keep more heat in and cook food quicker.
Compost It! 
Start a compost pile. Food waste is a huge problem now in our landfills and food waste from work lunches is just as bad as home food waste. If you have any food waste (banana and orange peelings, apple cores, etc) left over take it home in a container to your home compost pile. You will be making the best use of discarded food extras by being able to use them to nourish your own crops in the future!
Conserve Water 
When you are going to boil water only use as much water as you need in a pot. Every extra drop requires more energy to heat and will increase the cooking time. This also helps reduce your water usage.
I hope that you all enjoyed these tips and can start using them right away. Also, on behalf of the Sustainability Committee, we're looking forward to seeing you at Romanowski Park beginning at noon tomorrow for our Greening of Detroit gardening event! 
Nick Tritt, ext. 694 
avanti recycled
                     OUR MISSION 
Our mission is to promote, support and measure sustainability throughout Avanti and Omnigraphics and to insure that each strategic decision takes into account its current and future impact on our environment.