How to make your veganism more eco-friendly

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» How to make your veganism more eco-friendly

Being vegan isn't necessarily planet-friendly. Some vegan options can ignore sustainability, resource use, or other important eco-conscious practices. Here are a few ways vegans can up the ante to save the planet.

orange and celery in a net bagPhoto by cottonbro from Pexels

Use Less Packaging

The zero-waste concept is on the rise. Companies are beginning to jump on board with streamlined packaging options. Many are also using smart alternatives made from products like seaweed or grain waste from breweries.

Leave the packaging at the store whenever possible. Do you need to put that head of lettuce into one of those tear-off cellophane bags? Check out the bulk bins for pantry items and avoid the bright boxes and bags that end up in the garbage. Refuse plastic grocery bags. Each person uses approximately 700 plastic bags per year, so you can make a difference just by bringing cloth bags to the store. Let them live in your car or hang them next to the leashes near the door, so you remember to take them shopping with you.

A company called Loop is launching a “use and return” delivery model in France and the New York area. They offer sturdy, reusable containers that you can return when empty. Of course, you can buy smart no matter where you live, by choosing products packed in glass or metal recyclable or reusable containers. Save those glass peanut butter jars and give them a life as containers for nuts and grains. 

a paper package wrapped in twine
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Pack Smart

If you order from Amazon (and let’s be real, even the most dedicated buy-locals do this from time to time), send an email to customer service asking them to flag your account to eliminate plastic or styrofoam packaging from your orders. They will note this on your account. Keep in mind, some sellers will ignore or forget, but your effort will help. 

When you're packing items to mail, consider an eco-friendly alternative, such as recycled EcoEnclose mailers, or compostable packages. Reuse boxes or gift bags that you receive. A Michigan company produces a biodegradable foam peanut replacement made from cornstarch. Another company in New York produces packaging from mycelium and hemp. You can also reclaim the used packing material you receive from other companies, and cut to fit.

fair-trade banana against a grey background
Image by Isaac Fryxelius from Pixabay 

Fair Trade

Look at fair trade practices when buying products. Make sure workers in developing countries are paid a fair price for their services. Many suppliers print this information on the packaging.

Fair trade also encourages stewardship of the environment. Farmers or agricultural workers who struggle under poor wage conditions are sometimes forced to cut corners and endanger the farms and the surrounding environment. By supporting fair trade, you support healthy, sustainable crop production. Some fair trade companies contribute in other ways that help the planet. Look for Certified B Corporations that balance purpose with profit.

Assorted plastic bottles on body of water during daytime
Image: Pikrepo

H2 Oh No Plastic

We all know the evil of plastic water bottles, and moving away from single-use bottles will make a big difference. The average American goes through 167 plastic water bottles and about 500 disposable cups a year. Approximately 80% of that heap of plastic is not recycled and ends up in the landfill and our waterways. That’s a lot of unnecessary trash. Use a water filter or buy a reusable water bottle. You can pick from BPA-free or ones made from renewable bamboo, or upcycle a used glass jar and lid.

fruit and veg in compost
Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay 

Clean Your Plate

Waste less food. Learn to use every bit of your resources and only buy what you can use before the due date. Americans waste nearly half the food they buy, adding up to around $165 billion per year. Make a list of the foods you need before shopping, and don't buy more than you can use. Do you toss a few brown bananas from that bunch? Choose a smaller amount, or use the overripe fruits in baked goods or smoothies. 

Compost what you have left instead of throwing it in the trash. Compost bins of any size don’t stink when you follow a few guidelines. In fact, they have a lovely, earthy smell. Kitchen scraps and lawn clippings make up nearly a third of our curbside trash. When it goes to the landfill, it can release methane, a greenhouse gas, into the environment. But composting allows the waste to break down naturally. Better yet, the finished product will nurture your garden to continue the process of sustainability.

The number of vegans has increased over the last few years (with the UK seeing a jump from 150,000 in 2014 to more than 600,000 in 2019). With a few additional planet-friendly steps, vegans can make an even greater difference in the world. 

Rachael Baihn is a writer for which provides lawn care in over 100 U.S. markets. She is an avid gardener, both indoors and in her backyard sanctuary and can often be found entertaining her friends for dinner with her vegan creations.

The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.

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