We humans are often attuned to improving our personal health, and we may also ponder how to live more environmentally-friendly, sustainable lives. But many of us may not consider how we can do both at the same time.
Combining these efforts is not as hard as you might think it is. With three easy steps, you can have the dual satisfaction of bettering your health and the health of our world.
1. Eliminate Beef and Lamb from Your Family’s Diet
Meat consumption leaves a heavy carbon footprint, accounting for 26% of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Beef, veal, mutton, and lamb, in particular, have an outsized effect because they emit methane when cows and sheep belch, pass gas, and when their manure is collected in large pools. This methane contributes a surprising amount to greenhouse gas emissions. Consuming less of these meats will therefore make great strides in reducing your impact on climate change.
Eating less red meat—including pork and other game meats—will also do wonders for your physical health. Research has shown that red meat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and various forms of cancer. By not consuming red meat, you’ll lessen your chance of these adverse health conditions, too.
2. Use Your Feet for Transportation
One of the biggest contributors to the average American’s carbon footprint is the use of a personal vehicle. Almost 30% of U.S. household greenhouse gas emissions are due to transportation.
What can you use to commute instead of your car? Your feet! Walk to public transportation, jump on a bike, take a skateboard—whatever inspires you to be physically active instead of getting in your car.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults obtain 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, which includes a mix of both aerobic activity and strength training. Using your feet to travel will allow you to not only work toward that 150-minute weekly goal, but will also reduce your carbon footprint.
3. Ditch Household and Personal Care Products That Contain Chemical Toxins
One less frequently considered but equally important action you can take to improve your health and the health of the environment is to avoid chemical toxins like endocrine disruptors, which can harm you as well as our ecosystem.
Endocrine disruptors consist of a long list of chemical toxins found in plastics, cleaning products, cosmetics, pesticides, and more that can adversely affect human immunity, metabolic, and reproductive health. Moreover, not only do these chemicals affect humans, they negatively affect the reproductive health of wildlife, decreasing their lifetime fertility.
Do yourself and the environment a favor and avoid as many chemical toxins as possible by not purchasing products that contain them. Instead, opt for household and personal care products made with only natural ingredients. The Environmental Working Group’s consumer guides are great resources to help you steer clear of chemical toxins.
Taken together, changes to your diet, transportation, and household and personal care products can have incredibly positive effects on your health and our environment. And to maximize your likelihood of successfully modifying your habits, work on one step at a time and recruit others to help guide your journey and keep you accountable. With motivation and collective action, you can create the more sustainable environment and healthier life you’ve been dreaming about.
Sara Zellner Bio
Sara Zellner is an entrepreneur on a mission to help individuals and businesses align their priorities with their values to create positive change. She is the founder and owner of Saz Healthy Living, which provides sustainable living, health, and wellness coaching services. She is also the principal CEO of Lynz Consulting LLC, which specializes in corporate responsibility; environmental, social, and governance (ESG); and sustainability consulting. PhD-trained, Sara uses her research and coaching skills to delve into her clients’ vexing issues and assist them in reaching their goals.
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