Starting your day with a big glass of green juice is a hot health trend, as these emerald blends can give you a big boost of important nutrients. But juices and smoothies loaded with kale and spinach aren’t necessarily the other kind of green—the eco-friendly kind.
Don’t get me wrong—I love juicing. It helps me get more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and drinking it makes me feel virtuous. Below are some tips for making a juice that's healthy for both you and the planet.
Make your ownSkip the store-bought juices with all their disposable packaging. Even if you put the bottles in recycling, it still requires a lot of energy and water for the recycling process. Instead, use a juicer or blender at home to not only have more control over your ingredients, but also to save money and cut down on trash. Or if the prospect of washing and chopping all that produce is too much for you to bear, consider bringing your own reusable bottle to your local juice shop.
Be sparing with “superfoods”Acai? Cacao? These exotic tropical species might be very nutritious, but so many superfood trends come from far away lands. These well-traveled ingredients have a bigger carbon footprint than produce that’s grown closer to home.
Now, I know most people aren’t going to give up on chocolate, tea or coffee if it’s not produced in their region. However, it will still be friendlier to Mother Nature if you choose more of the nutrient-packed produce that’s grown in your area. Here in New York, I love to make a seasonal juice with local winter vegetables, like carrots and beets—and naturally sweeten it with apple.
Go organicMany juice experts recommend organic juice for health reasons, but organic agriculture is arguably even more important for the health of the planet. When you buy organic fruits and veggies for your juice, you’re supporting farmers who use fewer harmful pesticides and less synthetic fertilizer. If you care about avoiding genetically modified foods, buying organic also takes care of that.
Get uglyUgly produce that is! What matters here is the quality of the juice—not the physical beauty. Go ahead, buy that twisted carrot, that bulbous cucumber or the bruised apple. Some grocers are even offering discounts on their less beautiful produce. Looks won’t matter once everything is blended into your smoothie, and you’ll be helping cut down on food waste.
Also, greens that are just a touch too wilted for salad are often still suitable for use in juice.
CompostIf you use a juicer like me, you’re going to end up with a lot of pulp—and even blender users will have their fair share of cores, peels and stems. Be sure to compost these food trimmings instead of putting them in the garbage.
Of if you’re really ambitious, check out these recipes for juicer pulp.
This updated article was originally published in 2015.