Growing up in California, a healthier lifestyle was normally looked upon as, well, normal. Recycling was a big focus as well as conserving our natural resources – and this was “back in the day.” These principles haven’t changed since I was a kid, and in fact, they’ve intensified in many circles. Thus, I want to share with you 3 ways that healthy living can greatly benefit the environment.
1) Locally Sourced Food
I wish I could say we never ate fast food in my house, but sometimes the day has been entirely too long and going through a drive-thru is so much easier for dinner. Hot french fries just sound too yummy sometimes! Thankfully, our pantry recently experienced a huge makeover. Whenever possible, I buy food options that are labeled as being organic and GMO-free, and I avoid products that are high in corn syrup and dyes.
Ultimately, my favorite way to shop for our groceries is through locally sourced food. You can find locally sourced food at farmer’s markets, local food co-ops, and even directly off of the farm. By buying locally grown food, you are using less fossil fuel to get the food directly to the consumer. This not only helps us make our carbon footprint smaller, but also gives us more nutrition since the food is fresher.
Also, farmers receive better pay when consumers buy directly instead of incorporating a middle man. Locally sourced food helps keep the use of pesticides and other synthetic fertilizers to a minimum or even nonexistent by having farmers develop a healthy ecosystem. Industrial farming, while keeping the prices lower, threaten our environment by the sheer amount of waste through pollution of water, soil, and air.
2) Nontoxic Cleaners
Chemicals are a concern in just about every area of our lives, and a prevalent way we absorb them is through our cleaning supplies. Just check out the variety of warnings you’ll find on a given bottle:
- People with asthma should avoid use
- Fumes can cause irritation to skin, eyes, throat, and even long term lung problems
- Fabric softeners can cause respiratory irritation, sneezing, and headaches
- Dryer sheets can contain traces of acetone which can cause dizziness, and takes years to break down in the landfill since they are not recyclable
Furthermore, cleaning supplies that go down our sewer system and into our water supply threaten the water quality as well as our wildlife.
Instead of worrying what your bubbly cleaner might be doing look into different environmentally friendly alternatives like vinegar. You can use straight vinegar as a cleaner, but I for one cannot stand the smell! To help cut out the odor of vinegar but retaining what makes the stuff good for cleaning, follow these instructions:
- Soak citrus peels like orange and lemon in the vinegar to help give a more pleasant aroma
- Fill a jar with a lid full of peels and then cover the peels with vinegar
- Make sure to close the jar tightly and allow to steep for two weeks.
- Occasional shaking is recommended to make sure the vinegar covers all of the peels
- Transfer the solution into a spray bottle diluted with water to make cleaning a little bit easier.
This vinegar cleaner is safer for the environment and is also cheaper in costs then fancier store bought cleaners. Being asthmatic, I don’t have to avoid this cleaner, although that does mean my asthma won’t get me out of cleaning anymore!
3) Plant a Tree
Skip a weekend running errands or going to the mall, and spend that time in your own backyard planting a tree. Trees are essential to our communities as they help remove carbon dioxide while increasing our oxygen levels. By placing trees strategically around a residence, homeowners can see cooling costs reduced by 20 to 50 percent during the summer months and heating costs reduced by 10 to 15 percent. Feeling a little stressed out lately? A home with trees can help lower muscle tension and blood pressure. Children’s attentional functioning may benefit from increased exposure to greener environments. Having breaks outside during homework sessions just might increase children’s success in school.
Sometimes, all it takes is a little bit of effort to see some large changes begin. With these healthy living alternatives, you too can find ways to benefit your environment! And if you have any suggestions or recommendations for our readers, please share them in the comments!