Last year, we celebrated Earth Day with a list of habits that are good for you and the earth. This year, we’re back with even more ideas for a healthy body and planet. Here are three more ways you can improve your health and the health of good old Mother Gaia (aka: “Mother Earth”).
Gardening. Gardening counts as aerobic exercise, torching calories and getting your heartrate up. It’s also been linked to lower levels of stress, better heart health, increased strength and flexibility and even a decreased risk of dementia—just a few reasons to put on those gardening gloves and dig in. But there are so many ways gardening is good for the planet, too. Pollinator gardens are trending in recent years as a way to help local bee, butterfly and other pollinator populations. Ask around at your local greenhouse for native plant suggestions your pollinators will appreciate. Growing your own produce is a fantastic way to reduce your farm-to-fork impact and incorporate more veggies and greens into your diet, plus opting not to use pesticides or weed killer in your own garden keeps toxic runoff out of the environment.
Going meatless. Factory farming is one of the biggest contributors to pollution, with some studies finding that the production of one kilogram of beef produces 30 kilograms of greenhouse gases. Luckily, meatless Mondays have become a lasting trend for many families, while countless others have opted to give up meat in meals altogether. And with so many delicious meat-free recipes available, you might not even miss it. Going easy on the beef is also good for your health—heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., fueled by the saturated fat found in animal products. If you want to take things a step further, swap cow’s milk for oat or soy milk (almond milk, while tasty, uses a lot of water to produce, making it less earth-friendly) and sub nutritional yeast or vegan cheese for regular cheese in recipes.
Quit smoking. It’s no secret smoking is bad for your health. Smoking causes 480,000 deaths per year—that’s one in five. 90% of all lung cancer deaths and 80% of all COPD deaths are caused by smoking cigarettes, not to mention your risk for heart disease skyrockets if you smoke. But did you know that smoking is pretty bad for the earth, too? All of those cigarette butts you see littering beaches and sidewalks account for 38% of all collected litter. And because cigarette filters are made of plastic, they don’t biodegrade. Not to mention, the chemicals in cigarettes like arsenic and lead eventually leech into the environment, contaminating the soil and waterways. When you quit smoking, you’re doing both your body and the earth a huge favor.
We can all do our part to make the world greener. This Earth Day, commit to making your health and the health of the planet your priority 365 days a year.