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Isn’t it great when two good causes can join forces to make a great one! With the right mindset and actions to follow, we can reduce our use of plastic and improve our health in one swift swoop.
Plastic is still causing a lot of damage to our oceans, which means we all have to keep doing our part to clean things up and lessen the amount of trash we produce. Similarly, many of us are fast discovering that the way we’ve been eating the last few decades is actually doing a lot of damage to us as well. Cancers, diabetes, heart problems and other problems are constantly and consistently being linked to agro-chemicals and overly processed foods. Consequently, the recently enlightened are making major dietary changes for their own sake.
Luckily, plastic food packaging and poor health are often correlative, so it can be beneficial to deal with both at once!
Switch Supermarket Styles
In the supermarket, much of the potentially unhealthy food that we love comes coated in plastic. Candy and similar sugary treats are typically encased in wrappers. There are plastic bags of chips, bottles of soda, sealed processed foods, and more. Avoiding these items can cut down on both bad mojo for our bodies and the planet.
Instead, you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables (without putting them in the little plastic bags in the produce section). By buying bulk grains and legumes, which could be collected each week in reusable bags, you can fill your cupboards with healthy, whole foods that are packed with nutrition … not packed in plastic.
Curb the Chemicals
Besides the fact that much of the food contained in plastic is processed, a lot of time the plastic involved in the packaging is actually bad for our health. Many of us are already aware of BPA, and we are doing our best to steer clear of it. However, there is plenty more misused plastic packaging such as styrofoam that actually leaches bad things into the food we eat.
Rather, we can simply find things that come in safe packaging. Look for glass bottles instead of plastic ones, paper sacks instead of plastic bags and cans that are made BPA-free. Then, whatever packaging we do acquire, we can creatively reuse it so as not to make more waste, all without feeding ourselves damaging substances.
Forget Fast Food
Fast food, in general, is a horrible collection of chemicals, processed products, salt, and sugar. Some places — go Chipotle! — have taken a higher road, but by and large, fast food should not be our first eating option. What’s more is that it creates a mountain of garbage: wrappers, boxes, straws, cup, lids, plasticware, individual servings of this and that, and it just keeps piling.
One option is to find the health places, frequent them, and always dine in to avoid accumulating too much garbage. Or, you could carry you own reusable take-out container in if eating on the run is a must. Otherwise, it’s brown-bagging it for lunch, again being sure to get reusable containers to do it right, and that can always be a plastic-free adventure worth having. These options are much better for the environment and our health.
Cooking at home is perhaps one of the best ways to curb plastic a bit more and make sure the food we are eating is healthy. It’s simple really: Ingredients — onions, oats, and oranges — tend to come either fresh without packaging or with much less packaging that processed products, which need to be bright and big to attract costumers. Also when we cook for ourselves, with ingredients rather than opening packages, we know exactly what we are eating – and that won’t be preservatives, corn syrup, and sodium-soaked stuff.
For some, this might sound daunting, but cooking is not so bad. There are lots of quick and super simple meals that can be whipped up by even the clumsiest of novices. Then, once that cooking groove gets going, all sorts of culinary doors open up. Fresh food also makes for much more delicious meals. Check out One Green Planet’s awesome collection of recipes for a little help.
These are simple solutions to two very big, very real issues that many of us are now facing. But, with just a tweak of things here and there, we can find ourselves powered by healthy whole foods, punching out plastic and protecting the planet.
Lead image source: North Charleston/Flickr