5 Ways to Green Your Diet and Save More Money at the Same Time

saladDavid Bakke, a writer based in Atlanta, shares tips for saving money and saving the environment on Money Crashers Personal Finance. Here’s a guest piece from him:

If you think of going green, you may think of lowering your energy bills. But you can also put a significant dent in your grocery bill by opting for more environmentally friendly foods. If you follow these tips, you’ll not only save money, but will do your body worlds of good as well.

1. Reduce or Cut Red Meat Consumption

Every burger you grill has a detrimental effect on the environment. According to the EPA, livestock accounts for 28% of global human-related methane emissions — one of the world’s leading greenhouse gases. Other researchers have found that figure could be closer to 51%. But the effects of red meat hit a lot closer to home as well. Consuming less red meat can reduce your chances of getting a chronic illness by 12%. If you replace that red meat with more fresh fruits and vegetables, you’ll lower your grocery bill as well as your chances of contracting an illness. In this case, what’s good for the body is also good for the Earth — not to mention the checking account.

2. Buy Your Produce Locally

If you decide to go fresh, explore your area for a farm or farmers’ market that sells locally grown fruits and vegetables. Even if you have to drive, it can still be worth the effort — and still be beneficial to the environment (but it depends on how far you drive, and how local the food is). Buying locally reduces the carbon monoxide emissions that national grocers create in transporting their produce, which in some cases travels across the country.

3. Avoid Pre-Packaged Foods

By cooking more and getting takeout and prepackaged foods less, you can reduce the amount of plastic containers that end up in landfills. Preparing meals at home can also significantly slash your grocery bill. When you green your diet, you may have to put a little effort into it if you want make it pay off. By cooking your own dishes, you’ll know exactly what’s going into your body, which is a much more efficient way to stay healthy than simply relying on a restaurant chef’s word.

4. Avoid Foods in BPA Containers

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a potentially harmful chemical found in many common plastics and tin cans that are used in food packaging. Not only can it be damaging to the environment, studies also suggest it may have a negative impact on your health. If you buy fresh, you won’t encounter BPA at all (except perhaps in receipts). If that’s not an option, buy frozen fruits and vegetables. The plastic packaging for these products has less of an effect on the environment than tin cans or heavy plastics.

5. Start a Garden

One of the best ways to green your diet and save a significant amount of cash is to start your own home vegetable garden. Separate the plants enough so they can grow, follow each seed package’s individual instructions, and maintain your garden throughout the growing season. This will take a bit of time and a little elbow grease, so make sure you’re committed. A neglected garden is a useless garden. Water regularly and check for insects, which can severely damage your crop.

Final Thoughts

Once your diet is green and your bank account flush, turn your efforts toward your energy use. Adjust your thermostat, turn off and unplug items that aren’t in continual use, and get a home energy audit performed by your provider. If we’re going to leave our children a planet worth living on, the time to start going green is now.

What other green food tips do you have that can save money?

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