Mulling over your New Year’s resolution? If you’re considering something health related, commit to going green! A simple, manageable way to both improve your own health and the planet’s is to reduce your global footprint. Not sure where to start? We’re here to help!
While there’s a long, lengthy list of eco-friendly measures you can take, try to kick start your goals with the easy-to-adapt-to lifestyle changes listed below.
Cheers to a greener—and healthier—2019!
1. Say peace out to plastic!
Help keep pollutants out of the air, our oceans and our bodies by avoiding single-use plastic products. Mounting evidence suggests that we should be wary of using all plastics, including items labeled BPA-free. Researchers have found that replacements for BPA have worryingly similar hormone-disrupting effects.
To begin lowering your plastic exposure, start in your kitchen:
- Replace plastic storage and wraps with metal containers, glass and natural wax paper
- Swap plastic water bottles and cups for glass and metal mugs
- Don’t brew hot beverages in plastic; the heat makes plastic chemicals leach out more readily. Use glass meal or ceramic if boiling water is involved.
- Opt for food packaged in glass or paper rather than plastic. Many pantry items like honey, tomato sauce, oils, condiments and nut butters come in glass jars.
- Avoid canned food when possible, as most cans have plastic linings.
2. Forget about processed foods (or at least try!)
Besides wreaking havoc on your gut, processed food is full of chemicals and additives that have been linked to neurological impairment, obesity and cancer. Processed food is often high in calories but low in critical nutrients, contributing to health problems stemming from mineral and vitamin deficiency.
A varied whole-foods diet not only helps avoid long-term health issues brought on by processed food, it will likely make you feel better in the short term. When you’re not deficient in nutrients like magnesium or B vitamins, you’ll likely enjoy better sleep, have more energy, and get sick less often. Plus, less processing often means less packaging and energy use, so the footprint of whole foods should be smaller as well.
Focus on whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds and unprocessed grains to make your gut happy and reduce the negative eco impact of your diet.
3. Eat eco-friendly meals
Lunch: Make a salad with nutrient-rich whole grains like freekeh or quinoa, which are even better for you when sprouted to unlock their nutrition. Combine with sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, which are also rich in nutrients your body needs.
Snack: Skip the chips and choose nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables instead.
Dinner: Stir fry dishes, salads, soups and noodle bowls featuring veggies will help you reach your goal to eat more produce and make it easy to skip processed junk.
4. Go meatless more often
Besides significantly trimming the carbon footprint of your diet, reducing meat consumption cuts your risk of diabetes, cancer and other serious diseases. Eating lower on the food chain not only gives you more fiber and health-promoting antioxidants, it usually means your meal took less water and energy to produce.
Getting protein from plants is easier than you might think. Many of the seeds and grains mentioned above are good vegan protein sources, as are the vegetarian’s best friends, beans.
Lentils are another protein-rich legume that cook quick for those evenings when you’re in a hurry. Prepare more than you need to use the next day to enhance another dish. Same with garbanzo beans (use them to make hummus, top a salad or roast them for a crunchy, protein-packed snack!).
5. Cut the chemicals
Research continues to suggest that the huge number of chemicals we’re exposed to everyday contributes to numerous health problems. Aim to reduce the amount of industrial chemicals coming into your house to cut your body’s—and the planet’s—toxin consumption. The natural and plant-based options for personal care and cleaning have expanded immensely in recent years.
Replace your chemical shampoo, lotion and makeup with natural options that are better for you and the environment. Plant-based hand and body washes, including zero-waste shampoo bars (simple recycle the minimal paper wrapping), also help cut the amount of plastic you’re contributing to the waste stream.
Clean greenly with eco-friendly alternatives to chemical-based cleaners. Whether you make your own from vinegar and baking soda or choose from the huge array of plant-based cleaners, you’ll be keeping dangerous chemicals out of the water supply while improving the health of your family.