1 January 2018


Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? If you resolved to lose weight, eat healthier and exercise more, you have just joined a very big club as lifestyle improvements are some of the most popular. This year, why don’t you consider environmental sustainability as well as your health? There are many things you can do that can help both at the same time.

Drive less 
Transportation is responsible for a hefty chunk of our energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (it’s about one-quarter in Australia and the USA). Try walking, cycling or even skating instead of driving as often as you can; it burns kilojoules/calories, it’s free and creates zero GHG emissions. And you can soak up more of your surroundings instead of whizzing straight past in a haze of exhaust fumes. Heck, you may smile and greet a stranger and create a bit more peace and harmony in the world while you’re at it. Catching public transport is better for the environment than driving a car and you usually have a little walk at the beginning and end of the journey.

Drink water 
Disposable plastic bottles made up a whopping one-quarter of the litter removed Australia-wide by Clean Up Australia Day volunteers. This is equal to 3600 tonnes of plastic containers in 2016 alone. To put this into perspective this is equal to the weight of around 1000 mid-sized cars. In the USA 40 million containers are estimated to be thrown away every day, and only 30% are recycled. These figures are horrifying when you think of where all these bottles end up: in landfill and our waterways. This year buy a reusable drink bottle and drink water instead of sugary drinks. If you must buy a plastic or glass container, please recycle it, even if you have to take it home first. This is a healthier option both for you and the environment.

Recylcable water bottles

Meat-less Monday 
A good steak is a great thing, but did you know animal foods make up a large portion of our food-footprint? Around 2kg of greenhouse gas emissions are made in the production of just 80g of lamb. The same emissions arise from a comparatively large 2kg of lentils. Not only are plant foods better for the environment; they are also great for our health, so this is a win-win. Make plant foods the basis of your diet and eat just enough of the animal foods your body requires and waste nothing.

Reduce packaging 
In some Sydney preschools, children are given re-usable sandwich bags and water bottles to help them achieve waste-free lunches when they go to ‘big school’. This helps reduce plastic in landfill and reduces litter in school playgrounds. A waste-free lunch is a worthy goal for grown-ups too. When you shop for snacks like muesli (granola) bars, nuts, canned fruit, dried fruit, milk and yoghurt, try to avoid individually wrapped items and instead make your own or buy in bulk and portion them out in re-usable containers. For the unavoidable soft plastic packaging waste, find out where you can recycle it. In Australia, the two major supermarkets have soft plastic recycling bins.

Fill your cup 
Disposable coffee cups are an environmental disaster. ABC’s War on Waste TV series revealed around 50,000 cups, enough to fill one Melbourne tram, are binned by Aussies every 30 minutes! The situation is likely to be similar in other coffee-loving countries. Contrary to popular belief, most disposable cups are not recyclable as they are lined with plastic to stop leaking. Why not have fewer coffees and treat yourself to a fair-trade barista-made coffee and drink it from your own personalised re-usable cup.

The un-plugged truth 

  • Take active transport whenever possible; that is, human powered rather than fossil fuel powered. 
  • Drink water in a re-usable bottle to save pollution and reduce empty kilojoules/calories in sweet drinks (soda). 
  • Enjoy a plant-based diet with just enough animal foods. 
  • Reduce your waste and your waistline by eating fewer packaged foods (and always recycle). 
  • Avoid disposable coffee cups and take your own re-usable cup. 
 Thanks to Rachel Ananin AKA TheSeasonalDietitian.com for her assistance with this article.

Nicole Senior  
Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious.  
Contact: You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or check out her website.