When you make small changes to live a little greener, you aren’t just helping the environment. In fact, there are some green changes that you can make to can improve your health as well. You might be surprised to learn how much better you feel, in terms of your health, when you make a few changes to live more sustainably. Here are 5 ways going green can improve your health:
1. More Exercise, Fewer Emissions
One of the best ways to improve your health while helping the environment is to exercise more as you go to work or run errands. Walking or biking to work provides you with more heart-healthy exercise, while at the same time you are putting fewer pollutants into the air since you aren’t driving your car. You can even use a bike to run errands, since there are specially made “riders” — grocery bags that you can use with your bike.
Even if you don’t walk or bike all the way to work, you can get a little more exercise while reducing emissions by taking public transportation. Walking to and from the bus stop increases your exercise, if only by a little, and using public transit means that you are helping to reduce overall emissions.
2. Less Meat, More Produce
While you don’t have to go vegetarian or vegan to be greener and live healthier, you can improve your health by reducing your overall intake of meat. As a society, we have been adding more and more meat to our diets. If you replace just one meat entree a week with a vegetarian dish, you can lower your cholesterol a little, increase your intake of fiber from more natural sources, and reap other health benefits. And, because the process of raising meat for the dinner table takes more energy and produces more emissions that raising vegetables, you can add your bit to better sustainability.
3. Buy Locally Grown Produce
When produce is shipped in from thousands of miles away, the trucks that carry it put out a lot of emissions. On top of that, the produce is often picked early so that it does not spoil on its journey of thousands of miles. Some nutritionists claim that fruit and vegetables that haven’t ripened on the vine offer fewer helpful nutrients than produce that is picked closer to peak ripeness. Buying local — at farmer’s markets or at the local grocery — can mean produce that is better for you, chock full of nutrients. And it also means that fewer emissions went into getting it to your table. Bonus if you can get locally raised meat.
4. Gardening: Exercise and Nutrients
One of the ultimate ways to get locally grown produce is to grow it yourself. Gardening is a good way to get exercise for your body, as well as a good way grow produce that you can pick at the proper ripeness for all the nutrients. You can also control what pesticides are present, and you will be reducing emissions since you won’t even have to drive to the store or market for your produce. Produce from large gardens can be frozen, preserved for later in the year, and it is even possible to grow a few things in small spaces and containers for those who live in apartments.
5. Reduce the Chemicals in Your Environment
Studies have shown that chemicals in the environment can affect the health of you and your children. The products you buy for your children, and for use in your home, are not just bad for the environment. They can also be bad for your family. Look for greener toys and consider the types of chemicals you use in your home. Many household cleaners can be replaced by water, vinegar and lemon juice — all of which are less harmful than the chemicals you buy in the store. Breathing in some chemicals can result in respiratory problems, and some irritate the skin, causing rashes. You can increase your overall health just by being aware of what you are bringing into your environment and reducing the harmful items.
This post was originally published at the Naturigy blog