Photos: Francisco Collazo

Matador U student and contributor Abbie Mood takes the No Impact Week Challenge.

In November of 2006, New York City resident Colin Beavan, along with his wife and daughter, set out to live with no net environmental impact.

Fast forward three years later, add the Huffington Post, and you have No Impact Week. According to the website, the goal is to “demonstrate ways in which small actions in our daily lives can have a profound impact on our world.” Together, they’ve provided a daily guide with steps you can take to lessen your impact over the course of a week. Each day has a different theme.

I’m joining over 4,000 people to take on this challenge to identify what impact my actions (or lack of action) are having, and to find out what areas of my lifestyle I can change to balance out my carbon footprint a bit more.

Day 4: Food

The first step today was to take my food list from yesterday and calculate my carbon “foodprint.” I found the website to be rather limited, and didn’t have most of the foods that I ate, but there was some interesting information. I read that a “high carbon” day for people in the United States would be 4,500 points (1 point=1 gram of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions of greenhouse gases). Creating this kind of carbon dioxide everyday equals about three tons of emissions each year, the same as three roundtrip three hour flights.

Most of us are at least aware that our trash, transportation, energy, and water usage have an effect on the environment, but how often do we think about the impact our food choices have? I know I didn’t.

There are several ways to lessen the impact from our food choices, and many of them will in turn improve health and save money. First, buy fruit and vegetables that are in season locally. Buying locally will cut down on the emissions created from transporting your food from another country (or just across this country), as well as support your local economy.

Check out the Slow Food movement, the goal of which is to reconnect people with the whole food process – people, plants, animals, soil, water– by conducting public awareness and educational outreach workshops, encouraging people to enjoy local, sustainable foods, and advocating for farmers.

Another way to lessen your impact is to eat fewer animal products. I’m not saying you have to go vegetarian (if you want to find out more about becoming a vegetarian, visit The Vegetarian Society) but cutting out meat just one day a week can make a significant impact. If you need recipe ideas or want more information, visit Meatless Monday.

Some of the other suggestions from the No Impact Guide include preserving your food through canning or freezing those seasonal fruits and veggies, asking for tap water instead of bottled, and bringing your own doggy bag when you go to restaurants.

After today’s challenge, I’ve committed to buying my fruits and vegetables locally and seasonally. If you want to support your local economy, find your nearest local bakery, butcher, and farmers’ market here.