How and Why

We have to change...

I am not a scientist, celebrity or corporate organisation. This is not a PR stunt to sell you vegetarian sausages. I am not even a vegetarian. I am just an ordinary person who wants to protect our planet and leave it in a state that my children, future grandchildren and all humans and animals can enjoy. 

Everyone seems to be talking about sustainability. But how many people are actually making the changes we know we need to make? Our landfills are choked with plastic packaging that needs hundreds of years to biodegrade and rotting food that's pumping methane into the atmosphere. This wasted food is produced with precious natural resources, including land, water and fossil fuels, as well as many unnatural resources, such as pesticides and other chemicals. Meanwhile, the greenhouse gas emissions created by producing and transporting food from all corners of the globe to your local supermarket to your fridge and then to your nearest landfill are further accelerating global warming.

We have to address the way we eat. So let's make September the month we all start eating more sustainably! I would like all members of parliament to commit to #SustainableSeptember to move food waste, healthy eating, unnecessary packaging, and food production and transport emissions higher up their agenda. And I would like you to commit to #SustainableSeptember too!

Aim for zero food waste in your bin... 

This really is possible with a little mindfulness. Buy less food and cook only what you can eat. If there are leftovers, find interesting ways to use them up. Love Food Hate Waste have great ideas. Leave the skin on your potatoes and carrots so there are no peelings to discard. Avoid prepared vegetables with short shelf lives. Freeze or pickle food if you cannot eat it before it spoils. Make bread crusts into breadcrumbs or give them to the birds along with bruised fruit! Then compost any remaining inedible food waste, such as eggshells, banana skins and tea bags. Visit getcomposting.com to find out if your local council subsides compost bins. Buy a Bokashi bucket if you don't have space for a large composter or look into community composting schemes. 

Ensure the majority of your food is seasonal and locally produced...  

Growing fruit and vegetables in season reduces the need for heating, lighting, pesticides and fertilisers. Visit Eat Seasonably to find out what is in season and at its tastiest right now. Buying locally produced food reduces transport emissions associated with hauling it across the world to your nearest supermarket. If you can grow it yourself, that's even better!

Make at least two days a week meat-free...

Livestock farming is one of the most significant causes of climate change and the West eats far too much of it! Give the planet and your guts a couple of days off a week. Find out more about eating 'less and better' meat at Eating Better

Eat red meat no more than once a week...

Studies have shown that beef has the largest environmental impact of all types of meat so limit yourself to one small portion a week or give it up altogether. Consider wild venison, wild rabbit, squirrel or wood pigeon instead, as these are all being shot anyway to manage the countryside! 

If you eat meat or fish, buy it from sustainable and ethical sources... 

Responsible farmers are working hard to cut their carbon emissions. Meat from livestock kept at optimal stocking rates and grazed on land that is unsuitable for cropping has a lower carbon footprint than intensively farmed meat. If you know a local farmer who is rearing animals as ethically and sustainably as possible, find out where you can buy a little of their meat instead of a lot of the cheaper option at the supermarket. Talk to your local butcher about where their meat comes. Choose fish wisely too. You play a key role in securing the future of marine wildlife with every purchase you make. Use the Marine Conservation Society's Good Fish Guide to find out which fish are the most sustainable. 

Make at least two days a week dairy free ...

Milk is one of the most wasted food items in UK households. This means that a third of the greenhouse gases released associated with its production are for absolutely nothing. Buy smaller quantities and ensure none is wasted. 

Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day (but aim for 7)... 

If you always meet your target of 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, you will be less likely to snack on unhealthy, processed and highly packaged items. Your body and the planet will both benefit!

Make beans, chickpeas, lentils or other legumes at least one of these portions... 

They're sustainable, cheap and a low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals!

Choose wholegrain carbohydrates, such as wholegrain rice and wholewheat bread and avoid refined carbohydrates... 

Choosing wholegrain varieties of carbohydrates and eating potatoes with their skins on increases your fibre intake, which is important for health, while also decreasing processing and waste.

Buy no more than one processed "treat" item high in fat, sugar or salt each week, e.g. cakes, sweets, biscuits or crisps...

These items are bad for your health and the planet. If you can't cut them out completely, limit yourself to one indulgence a week.

Avoid products with unnecessary packaging and recycle whenever possible... 

Convenience foods usually come with a lot of unnecessary plastic. Simplify your diet and eat more wholesome, natural foods to reduce the amount of plastic you put in the bin. 

Stop buying bottled water...

With so many bottles being used, our country cannot recycle them all. And the problem is getting worse. Over 7 billion plastic water bottles are used each year in the UK. Refill reports that a standard water bottle can take over 450 years to biodegrade. Its production is also 500 times more carbon intensive than tap water. A one-litre bottle uses 162g of oil to produce, creating CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to driving a car for 1 km. All, while we have high-quality safe drinking water available on tap! If you get thirsty out and about, carry a refillable bottle instead. 

#sustainableseptember