With COP26 highlighting the urgency of the Climate Crisis and a target set to cut greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030, the time for climate action, even on an individual level, is now. However, many of us may find ourselves asking, “What can I do to make a difference?”. Well, as food production is responsible for almost one third of GHG emissions, why not start there? Everything that we eat matters, and how it’s grown, produced, and transported matters even more. With that in mind, here are a few ways that you can cut your carbon footprint by growing your own food.
Reduced food miles
Our food creates more GHG emissions the further it travels. With air transport racking up typically about 50 times more emissions shipping, and about 10 times more emissions than road transport. To make matters worse, food transported from across the world will need to be refrigerated and stored on its long journey. So, if you grow as much of your own food as you can, consider the amount of emissions you’ll be cutting down on…
For those who have yet to begin their growing journey, you can still cut down on food miles by making one easy change – start supporting local producers. This is an easy switch, with multiple benefits. By buying local you can support your community, cut your carbon footprint AND enjoy the very best tasting food, which has been grown seasonally and likely without the use of extreme fertilisers and pesticides.
More likely to follow a plant-based diet
Diets with a high intake of red meat have a higher carbon footprint than plant-based diets, due to the significant Methane emissions generated by cattle. Our over-reliance on meat products has led to alarming environmental impacts including biodiversity loss as a result of land-use change for agriculture.
But, by growing your own fruit and vegetables, you’ll be more likely to follow a plant-based diet. In fact, you’ll be a whopping 50% more likely, according to our research. This is a result of food empathy, which if you haven’t heard of by now, is where the knowledge gained from growing your own food encourages you to make more sustainable and healthier choices. Following a plant-based diet doesn’t mean cutting all meat from your diet, you can still cut your carbon footprint by choosing sustainably sourced meat products and eating more plants!
Reduced Food Waste
Food waste is responsible for 8% of global GHG emissions. That means we’re emitting tonnes and tonnes of unnecessary CO2, Methane and Nitrogen Dioxide into our atmosphere for food that ends up in our bin. Food can spoil at any stage along the supply chain, but the largest amount is produced within our homes.
However, according to our research food growers are 40% more likely to avoid letting almost any food go to waste (probably because we know the hard work, time and resources it takes to grow the food we eat!). Start by growing something simple – lettuce and salad are easy to grow and just so happen to be the most commonly wasted food in Ireland. If you’re anything like us, your growing journey won’t stop there, the more you grow, the more food waste you cut down on – the more you’ll cut your carbon footprint!
So, all you GIYers out there, keep up the great work, the more food you can grow, the healthier the planet will be. And together we can all make a difference.