Using land to produce food, clothing, paper, and other goods has a huge impact on the planet's climate. In fact, it’s responsible for three-quarters of global deforestation and more heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, ships, and airplanes in the world combined. As shoppers and eaters, we have immense power to save habitats, fight climate change, and keep our planet livable by taking simple actions at home and in stores every day.
Here are five steps you can take right now:
1. Reduce waste
About a third of all the food that’s produced globally—several times what’s needed to feed every malnourished person on the planet—is never eaten. In fact, food waste alone is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions each year equivalent to burning about 500 billion gallons of gasoline. By keeping food from going to waste, we can provide food for more people without increasing its impacts.
2. Consume mindfully
Consumers should consider the environmental impacts of the products they choose and reduce the overconsumption of high-impact foods. By eating a balanced diet and following nutritional recommendations, people can maintain a more sustainable environmental footprint.
3. Shop sustainably
Consumers should look for food items that are certified as more sustainable by independent organizations. By choosing certified or more sustainable foods, you can send a message to your favorite grocery stores and brands that sustainability matters to you.
4. Get to know farmers and ranchers
Most Americans are generations removed from farms. By visiting with nearby farmers and ranchers or your local farmers market, people can begin to understand how agriculture can serve as a tool for conservation. And with greater understanding and personal relationships, we can begin to share in the challenge of producing and consuming food more sustainably.
5. Advocate for strong conservation policies
Congress and the Administration have a lot of influence over our food system and its impact on nature. You can get involved in the process. Ask your members of Congress to support policies that help farmers and ranchers conserve wildlife and grasslands while producing food.