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5 Tips for Improving the Planet’s Health — and Your Own

Finding ways to support a healthy lifestyle and a greener planet is a huge priority for many people. Motivations are stronger than ever as climate reports continue to raise alarm and health outcomes decline. While the news seems bleak, you have the power to positively impact your well-being and the planet’s future. Luckily, you can often do both at the same time.

An eco-friendly existence is a win-win for you and the environment. While the challenge is enormous, small lifestyle choices can add up to a big difference over time. Here are five planet-friendly tips that will also give your health a boost.

1. Cut Down on Meat and Up Your Greens

Reducing your meat consumption is beneficial for overall health and a less-polluted planet. The meat industry is a huge culprit in the global warming crisis, producing gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. In addition, cattle farming often leads to deforestation, which directly contributes to climate change.

Eating too much red meat is also linked to adverse health outcomes like heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and certain cancers. On the reserve side, adding plenty of fruits and vegetables to your plate is associated with positive health outcomes. So instead of packing your plate with meat, swap in fresh foods that offer better nutrition with a much smaller carbon footprint. Add some super greens powder to a drink or smoothie if you can’t get all your nutrients through whole foods.

2. Rethink Your Transportation

Gas-powered cars and trucks produce harmful pollutants that are damaging to health and contribute to the climate crisis. Taking public transportation, biking, and walking are more earth-friendly alternatives. In addition, walking and biking are fantastic ways to exercise while you get from one place to the next.

Unfortunately, not all communities make walking and bike riding safe and accessible, so driving might be your only option. Nonetheless, you can still find ways to reduce your carbon footprint and get where you need to go. Consider carpooling to the office with a co-worker or using ride-sharing apps to get to your destination. Exchanging your old gas guzzler for an electric or hybrid vehicle will likewise decrease your overall carbon footprint.

3. Support Local Farmers

Locally sourced fresh foods contribute to a fit lifestyle and promote sustainability. For example, utilizing farmer’s markets offers a wonderful way to buy nutritious ingredients and form connections within your community. In addition, vendors typically grow and sell products nearby, lessening emissions during transportation and allowing customers to buy sustainably. Grocery stores are also good places to score some delicious and nutritious foods grown by local farmers.

If you have a green thumb, consider going hyper local and growing your own garden. It’s best to start small if you’re new to planting fruits and vegetables. Try out some easier vegetables to grow on your own, like cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, radishes, and squash. As for fruits, beginners might have the most luck with strawberries, blueberries, and rhubarb. Place some herb plants like basil, mint, and thyme in your kitchen window to start on an even smaller scale.

4. Use Nontoxic Household Cleaners

Many popular household cleaners contain toxic ingredients that damage your body and the earth. Chemicals found in everyday cleaners may cause skin problems, eye irritation, and respiratory issues. These chemicals can release into the air through evaporation and go down drains into the water supply. In addition, these products are typically packaged in plastics that will likely end up in landfills.

Ideally, greener products will include both safer ingredients and cut out wasteful packaging. Next time you’re at the store or shopping online, look for more environmentally friendly and less hazardous products. Check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Choice program to discover certified cleaners with nontoxic ingredients. The EPA also has a list of different recommended household products like multipurpose cleaners, floor care, and soap.

5. Purchase Less Plastic

Plastic is everywhere, and most of it doesn’t get reused or recycled, leaving it overflowing landfills and flooding the ocean. Unfortunately, the material is cheap to produce and convenient, two factors often prioritized above all else in modern society. While avoiding plastic altogether is challenging, ditch single-use plastics and swap in sustainable products as much as possible. Instead of using plastic wrap to store food, choose beeswax wrap or reusable containers like mason jars. Bring reusable tote bags when you’re out shopping to avoid using plastic bags.

Besides harming the planet, plastic can also be hazardous to your well-being. Plastic particles have consistently been found in tissue specimens from people battling cancer and chronic lung diseases. Additionally, long-term exposure to plastic fibers can reduce lung capacity and cause inflammation. While researchers are still forming a complete picture of how plastic compounds negatively affect health, avoiding them is clearly advisable.

Nurturing a Healthy Body and World

Finding ways to build a more sustainable world and cultivate a healthy lifestyle is more important than ever. Unfortunately, the conveniences of modern society lead to wasteful habits that pollute the air, overflow landfills, and hurt the planet. In addition, the meat and processed food industries harm people’s health and the planet.

While it is easy to be overwhelmed by the damage already done, it isn’t too late to turn things around for the better. At the end of the day, you only have control over your own decisions. So make sure you’re making the right ones by making a healthy body and a greener planet your guides.