Living Green: Food

Smart Purchases

Eat Locally

Think globally, eat locally. Food that’s grown and produced nearby reduces transportation-related emissions. Farmers’ markets, U-pick farms, and roadside stands are great places to shop. Not only are you reducing emissions by buying locally but, you are supporting the local economy. At the grocery store, you can also look at the label to find out a fruit or vegetable’s origin.

Perhaps this is the year you should plant your own vegetable garden. There is nothing quite like the flavor of fresh picked produce. If you have never had a vegetable garden, the University of Illinois Extension Service has many resources: visit the website for Macon County.

Farmer’s Market in Decatur, Illinois

Visit the Richland Community College Farmer’s Market and load up your reusable bag with the freshest produce and goods. Buying locally supports local farmers in our community and reduces your carbon footprint, since nothing was shipped overseas to arrive in your hands.

Fish for Eating, Fish for Saving

We’ve all heard about the health benefits of a diet rich in certain types of fish. You may have also heard about some of the negative health risks associated with certain other types of fish.

To add to the confusion, there are a lot of fish in the sea that aren’t doing so well, environmentally speaking. Overfishing, pollution, changing sea temperatures, and habitat depletion are making it tough for some species of fish to survive and to reproduce.

According to the Marine Stewardship Council, 52% of fish stocks are fully exploited, which means that they are being fished at their maximum biological capacity. 24% are over exploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. 21% are moderately exploited. Yikes!

To help you weed through all the health and environmental data to pick the best fish for eating, the Environmental Defense Fund’s Seafood Selector (link to: is a handy tool.

If you are interested in learning more about mercury contamination in fish and the environment, the following article contains a wealth of information on this environmental concern: Mercury In Fish: Complete Guide On What You Need To Know

Green Cooking

Cooking not only uses energy, but it also creates waste. Both of these are bad for the environment. Try making a goal to cook as green as you possibly can:

  • Use a pressure cooker instead of the stove or the oven.
  • Eat organic foods without a ton of preservatives.
  • Let food thaw in the refrigerator instead of using the microwave or running hot water.
  • Instead of cooking in small portions, cook in bulk.
  • Get rid of paper towels and use washable rags instead.
  • Compost some of your waste.

Make Compost

If you’re looking for a way to decrease waste, composting is a great way to start.

Composting reduces the amount of greenhouse gases emitted, and the amount of waste that winds up in landfills. Composting can also benefit for your wallet, as it reduces the money you spend on things like garbage bags and fertilizers.

You can make your very own compost at home in a trash can, a wooden bin, or a commercial composter. Coffee grounds, fruits, vegetables, newspaper, grass clippings, eggs shells, and much more can all be put in your new creation! Your plants will benefit greatly from the compost you spread in your gardens.


Pack Your Lunch

Bringing your lunch to work or school is a great way to save money, control the quality and quantity of the foods you eat, and reduce the amount of to-go packaging.

Make lunchtime even greener by stashing a durable place setting in your desk or locker. Then, you can reheat last night’s leftovers or assemble your PB&J using your own re-washable items. This goes for silverware, too.  By washing and stashing your own lunch accoutrements, you could save 300+ plastic plates, forks, etc. per year!

Make it Waste Free

Many parents and adults rely on single-use plastic bags or single-serving items that come in their own disposable package when packing lunches. They’re convenient, but at what cost?

Much of the trash generated in our homes comes from the packaging on the food we buy. According to, each school-age child who packs a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. Here are some guidelines for packing a waste free lunch:

Instead of:
Aluminum foil and plastic baggies, paper napkins, plastic utensils, juice boxes, paper lunch bags.

Reusable containers for sandwiches & sides, cloth napkins, reusable silverware, refillable drink containers, reusable lunchbox, tote bag, or cooler.