Healthy Planet, Healthy Me

In honor of Earth Day this week (April 22, to be precise), I’m recycling a post from my old blog! These are just a few things those of us pursuing a healthier life can do along the way to make our world a little better.

1. Opt for filtered water over bottled water. In 2001, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) reported that around 1.5 million tons of plastic are used each year to bottle 89 billion liters of water. Yes, we can recycle plastic containers, but do we really need to? How can we use our local water supply safely? Check out allaboutwater.org for all the info you can use about making your drinking water safe. (At minimum: why not commit to reusing half –or more—of the bottles you do consume?)

2. Eat less meat. Easy for a vegetarian, less so for those of us whose bodies like meat. But did you know that reducing our meat consumption (even by as little as 15%) would greatly reduce our risk of heart disease, diabetes, or stroke? Why, yes, you say, I do know that, but what’s it got to do with the environment? Some sources report that livestock production is responsible for up to 18% of greenhouse gases created by humans. Factor in the amount of water required and the number of forests destroyed in favor of grazing land, and you have even more reasons to reduce your consumption of meat. You can find more info at eatlessmeat.org (At minimum: try going meatless one day per week by following some of these great tips.)

3. Buy fewer packaged products. We need more fresh foods anyway. By shopping the outer aisles of most grocery stores (bakery, fruits/vegetables, dairy, meat), we’ll cut down on sodium and other chemicals, for one thing, and for another, we eliminate a lot of packaging that will likely end up in a landfill.

4. Buy organic and buy local, when possible. We avoid those messy chemicals used in production and the noxious fuel consumed in transportation. Oh, and don’t forget to get yourself some re-usable canvas grocery bags. Opt out on paper AND plastic.

5. Walk your errands every chance you get. I walked to the grocery store yesterday. It’s only a few blocks away, and knowing I had to carry home what I bought kept the purchases to a minimum (bananas, apples, almonds, 20-oz. Diet Coke). I’m fortuante in that a pharmacy and dry cleaner are also close by, along with Subway, Starbucks, SmoothieKing and a couple of local restaurants. I’m looking forward to “walking for my supper” in the coming months.

6. Commit to carrying a sack and a pair of gloves on your walking route just one day per week. As you’re walking, pick up any trash you see and take it to your own garbage can/recycle bin. You’ll get extra exercise, your neighborhood will look better, and fewer items will be headed down the drain and into a local river or stream. I had actually planned to do this today, but when I was coming home from the grocery yesterday I noticed more people than usual out and about. Turns out it was “Neighborhood Clean-up Day”, and I missed out. Still, I’ll carry a small bag today, just in case they missed some stuff. :)

Those are just a handful of ways we can improve our environment as we improve ourselves. If you have more, I’d love to hear them.