Okay, so we’re all aware that we should turn off our lights when we leave the room, become public transport savvy instead of driving everywhere, and somehow permanently attach a reusable bag to our person so that it’s always with us – even for that unplanned trip to the grocery store to “just get that one (ahem, never just one) thing.”
These are definitely things to keep stocked in your eco-friendly arsenal, but there may be some other tips to keep in mind that’ll keep both you and Mother Gaia happy and healthy. And they involve eating. Who doesn’t love eating?
Let me set the scene.
It’s Saturday morning and spring has finally sprung. You’ve been shedding layers over the past few days and your vitamin D deficiency is on the upswing. What better way to celebrate the oh-so-glorious sunshine than with brunch?!?
Call up your girlfriends – but don’t forget the star of this post, Terra Madre, the Earth Mother, the giant ball of lava that we happen to call home.
When you sit down to feast upon what will either be: a) a recovery meal for a big night; b) a celebratory meal for not needing a recovery meal; or c) a delicious mound of avocado that equates the dwindling of your housing fund, just remember that you can save the planet while enjoying that late breakfast-early lunch.
Think before you eat.
This might seem totally silly but a little thought can go a long way. You may have a pounding headache and have no idea where your phone/credit card/pride is, but simply including some pro-environmental thinking in your gorging can make all the difference.
Use what little brain power you have left after a long week to make a wise decision about where to eat. Look for restaurants that offer organic or locally produced products and find a place where you can sit down with proper plates and cutlery, instead of wrappers and plastic. Formulate a plan before opening the menu and commit to making a wise decision about finding something that will live in your body for the next six to eight hours. Beyond this, think about the potential impacts of your meal selection – Who’s making it? Where did it come from? How was it grown? What ingredients does it contain? Was it alive? If you can’t make educated guesses about any of these questions, it’s probably best to avoid it.
Healthy for you = healthy for the planet.
My dad used to tell me that the cure to a hangover was a Diet Coke and greasy food (spoiler alert: this is wrong). This may arguably do the trick to comfort you as you experience the pain caused by too many G&T’s, but it certainly won’t heal the hangover our planet is experiencing.
The best way to experience the new brunch spot and catching up with old friends is with a meal that will make you feel good. This meal cannot be found at Waffle House or McDonalds, and likely comes with things that were recently living in the ground. Check the menu for seasonal specials or fresher options. Opt for fresh mushrooms or tofu instead of ham and sausage. If you’re really jonesing for eggs, try to find the words ‘free-range’ or ‘pasture-raised’ on the menu.
As a rule of thumb, if the food you’re planning on consuming comes frozen, is mass produced, is wrapped/topped/layered/covered in bacon, or is served at a fast-food restaurant – try avoiding it for the sake of Momma E (and your life expectancy).
Leftovers are okay.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME, bring a plastic container! The serving sizes at restaurants are whack and unless you’re Michael Phelps, you probably don’t need to eat the whole thing. Instead of wasting what’s left of your delicious feast (or stuffing it in styrofoam), take it home for a lovely mid-morning snack. Your ravenous self will thank me later.
Minimize your coffee consumption.
Trust me, it pains me so much to even write those words. But here’s the thing, your daily cuppa (or two, or four) comes at a cost that isn’t reflected in the price you pay at the cafe. Your legal drug not only comes soy milk and two sugars, but also a whole lotta social and environmental consequences.
Our daily cup-o-joe comes with biodiversity losses, insane amounts of water used for irrigation, chemical pesticides and herbicides, and farmer exploitation. Not to mention the environmental impacts of shipping the beans from where they’re grown in Latin America, Asia, or Africa to where they’re roasted, to where they end up in your favorite mug.
As you sip on your almond milk latte, just picture the 18 coffee trees required to satisfy your annual fix.
If you, like me, are addicted beyond help and no A&E-esque intervention can keep you from savoring that black gold, there are a few ways you can feel a bit better about your java enslavement. First, drink less. Second, don’t use a disposable takeaway cup. Third, look for the sorta-pretentious-but-also-worth-the-extra-50¢-labels like ‘organic’, ‘freetrade’, ‘single origin’, ‘locally roasted’, ‘Rainforest Alliance Certified’, ‘shade grown’, et cetera. Fourth, don’t waste a single drop. Obviously.
So there you have it. Eat mindfully and healthfully and enjoy welcoming the planet as your newest brunch companion. If you have any Earth-friendly eating habits, share them in the comments!