This time of year has us all thinking green, but we’re not just talking four-leaf clovers, St. Patrick’s Day and early signs of spring. We’re talking about environmentally friendly choices and their surprising health benefits. Check out these five simple ways to reduce your environmental footprint while doing your body right.
1. Skip store-bought bottled drinks. If you’re looking to go green and get healthy, say no to bottled beverages. Sports drinks are made with artificial colors and flavors, fruit juice is loaded with sugar, and soda (yes, even the diet stuff) has been linked to increased inflammation, insulin resistance, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Bottled drinks also require tons of energy to ship and contribute to pollution. Stick to filtered tap water, tea and coffee. They’re better for your health and will save you money.
Check out more tips for living sustainably on a budget from nutritionist and Sharecare expert, Kate Geagan.
2. Choose clean cleaners. Getting ready to do some spring cleaning? Be mindful of the products you choose. Many popular cleaners are loaded with chemicals like chlorine bleach and ammonia that evaporate into the air, harming you and the environment. Breathing in these toxic fumes can damage your lungs and respiratory tract, irritate your nose, skin and throat, and cause nausea and headaches. Instead, consider Earth-friendly cleaners made with high-quality natural ingredients, like those baring the EPA stamp of approval. And it only takes a few minutes to make your own using baking soda, vinegar or lemon juice.
3. Make fitness eco-friendly. Extend some love to Mother Nature the next time you work up a sweat. Save electricity by skipping the treadmill and heading out for a walk or hike; research shows that outdoor exercise can be better for both body and mind than a gym workout. And instead of throwing out your old running shoes, donate them to nonprofit organizations like the Shoe Bank. Not only does it keep sneakers out of landfills, it can also boost your health: Research shows that being charitable can strengthen your immune system, decrease pain and boost positive emotions.
4. Rethink your commute. Long commutes contribute to poor air quality and increased greenhouse gas emissions, and they also wreak havoc on your health. Studies show that people who endure lengthy trips back and forth to work everyday are more likely to be obese, have high blood pressure and be less physically active – all risk factors for heart disease. Consider greener, healthier options like carpooling with a co-worker, taking public transit or biking to work.
5. Eat locally grown food. Eating local fruits and veggies is good for both you and the environment. When you can, buy food from local farmers – it takes less energy to produce and ship and is generally fresher and richer in nutrients. Locally grown food is also less likely to be coated with pesticides, many of which have been linked to brain and nervous system toxicity, certain types of cancer, hormone disruption and skin, eye and lung irritation.