What Does Going Green Have To Do With Health?
We’ve all heard how “going green” is good for the earth, and that we should be taking care of the planet. But what can “going green” do for us personally? Plenty! By contributing to long-term environmental sustainability, we can deliver immediate health benefits to ourselves and to our families.
Clear the air
Air pollution can irritate asthma and allergies and has been linked to lung cancer. Keeping residential (and office) airspace clean can improve a person’s ability to breathe. Get rid of artificial air fresheners and cleaning supplies, opting instead for toxin-free products. When using any cleanser, be sure to have good ventilation. Don’t even get me started on smoking!
Let the sun shine in
Sunlight is healthy, optimizes vitamin D levels, increases energy, improves mood, lowers cancer risk and promotes wellness, plus it’s just downright nice to experience! Instead of relying entirely on artificial lighting, allow natural light to stream through windows, especially during cooler months. Doing so can reduce home and office energy use, but be mindful in the summertime so the air conditioner doesn’t kick in unintentionally! (Direct sunlight on bare skin is inadvisable for more than 15 minutes a day.)
Ride your bike
Biking to work or to do errands provides a fun and easy way to exercise and increase fitness. Benefits include improved heart health, diabetes control, weight loss and reduced depression.
Burn calories, not gas
The jury is in: You can improve mental and physical health simply by walking. Find an exercise partner. Walk to work. Walk during lunch. An added bonus is that interacting with friends, neighbors and colleagues helps stave off depression and anxiety. If you’re unable to walk to work, set up a carpool and encourage participants to bring walking shoes to use at lunchtime.
Biking or walking to the bus stop can give you an opportunity to enjoy nature. Being outside and seeing plants and small animals can actually help improve your health, get you in shape and make you thankful for so many things we often take for granted. A regular connection with nature has been shown to reduce stress, enhance mood, reduce mental fatigue and increase concentration.
The non-organic pesticides often used on fruits and vegetables can cause a variety of health issues. When you choose produce that is organically grown, it’s better for the environment—and for your health.
Put down pre-packaged foods
Processing and packaging food requires excessive amounts of synthetic materials and fossil fuel. Often, the packaging is not recyclable. Processed foods are typically loaded with sodium, sugar, trans fats and empty calories. Avoiding these junk foods can improve your overall health and help you avoid obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Drink non-bottled water
Discarded plastic water bottles are taking over the earth! In addition to creating a huge waste problem, drinking plastic-bottled water increases our exposure to chemicals that mimic estrogen, which can lead to unfavorable hormone changes. Drink more water, but get it filtered from the tap, and make use of reusable, BPA-free or stainless steel water bottles.
Buy local produce
One of the best things you can do for your health—and for the local economy—is to purchase local fruits and vegetables. Shipped-in produce is often picked before it is ripe. Some studies suggest that allowing produce to ripen on the plant increases its nutrient content.
Choose sustainably-raised protein
Wild-caught fish, free-range poultry and grass-fed beef are usually raised using more environmentally sustainable (and humane) methods. Additionally, organic meat and eggs are not loaded with excessive chemicals and hormones. They are also leaner and more nutrient-dense. The bottom line: Eating wild or naturally produced protein is healthier and helps you avoid ingesting nasty chemicals and hormones.
Keep your grass greener
What you put on your lawn and garden can definitely affect your health and the environment. Rain can wash chemicals from fertilizers and insecticides into streams, rivers, oceans and even municipal water supplies. Additionally, lawn care chemicals can get on your skin and, if you use them in your garden, they will be in your food. Instead, use environmentally friendly, organic fertilizers and pest controls. Mulch your lawn and garden to improve soil health.
Use safer household cleaners
Many cleaning products contain harmful chemicals, which can cause headaches, respiratory problems and aggravate other health issues. You might notice a difference when you stop using these chemicals and replace them with non-toxic cleaners. Check out www.eartheasy.com for ideas and recipes.
Try adding one of the above ideas every week through the summer and into fall.
Best of health to you! Nisha