We all hear about how going green is good for the planet, and that we should be taking good care of the Earth. However, we rarely hear about the importance of going green on our health. Much of the debate focuses on issues like global warming and environmental sustainability. But going green isn’t something that only benefits the Earth. There are very real benefits that you can enjoy as far as your health is concerned. Here are 25 health benefits of going green:
Reducing Energy Use and Using Alternative Energy
Much of our energy comes from fossil fuels that can cause a number of problems beyond global warming. When we reduce our energy use, and when we use alternative energy, there are some tangible health benefits that come along with the territory.
- Breathe easier. Pollution can enhance asthma and allergies. It is also linked to lung cancer. Going green can help clean the air space, and improve your ability to breathe.
- Heart healthy. Some of the particulates in the air that come from pollution caused by fossil fuels can actually contribute to heart disease and other cardiac issues. Reducing pollution with greener energy practices can actually help your heart.
- Infectious diseases. The spread of infectious diseases can be exacerbated through global warming as the by-products of our energy use are released. You can help slow the spread of pandemics by reducing your energy use.
- Reduce acid rain. Pollution from industrial energy use, as well as home energy use that creates increased demand, can cause acid rain. Indeed, since the implementation of the Clean Air Act, the incidence of harmful acid rain has been reduced.
- Let in the sun. Instead of relying wholly on artificial lighting, you can let in the sunlight. Open your shades and let natural lighting help you reduce your energy needs and let the sun’s health benefits help you. Natural lighting helps your calcium absorption, and there have been studies done on the helpfulness of natural sunlight on your mental health and mood.
- Worker deaths. Energy production with fossil fuels results in hundreds of worker deaths each year. Oil rigs and coal mines are notoriously unsafe and damaging to worker health. Increasing green energy use could mean that jobs in safer, healthier environments could replace the dangerous and dirty jobs related to fossil fuels.
Changing Your Transportation Habits
The way you get from point A to point B can have an impact on your health. Changing your transportation habits can actually help you improve your health, in addition to reducing the pollution that harms the Earth.
- Ride your bike. Riding your bike to work can provide you with good exercise. This exercise can lead to increased heart health and a number of other benefits, including weight loss.
- Take the bus. If you are not quite up to riding your bike to work, you can take public transportation. This will cut down on pollution, and it will give you some exercise as you walk to and from your stops.
- Meet other people. Social interactions can help us stave off depression. You can improve your mental health when you interact with neighbors as you ride the bus or carpool.
- Increase your productivity. Make the most of your commute with public transportation. This can help you get more done on the commute, since you won’t be driving. And when you are more productive, you have more time at home to relax and be with your family, allowing you stress reduction and increased mental wellness.
- Work from home. If your company will let you, you can reduce pollution by avoiding a commute altogether. Working from home can put you at ease, save you time, and prevent you from being exposed to unhealthy air.
- Enjoy nature. Biking or walking to the bus stop can give you an opportunity to interact with nature. Being outside, and seeing plants and small animals can actually help improve your health. Contact with nature can enhance mood, reduce mental fatigue and increase concentration.
Buying Local Food and Avoiding Pre-Packaged Food
In addition to activities that can reduce pollution directly, going green can be done through how you eat. You can increase your health by choosing foods that are greener, and by buying local foods.
- Avoid pesticides. Pesticides on foods that are not certified organic can cause sickness and other health issues. When you choose produce that is organically grown, it is better for the environment, and for your health.
- Stay away from pre-packaged foods. Not only do pre-packaged foods use materials and energy, but they are often full of excess sodium and sugar and empty calories. Avoiding pre-packaged foods not only helps the environment, but it can also help you improve your health by reducing your intake of things that cause obesity, heart disease and cancer.
- Drink non-bottled water. Bottled water uses resources and energy. Additionally, chemicals from the plastic bottles can leach into water and cause health problems. Drink more water, but get it filtered from the tap and make use of special rated reusable water bottles.
- Get produce locally. One of the best things you can do for your health is buy local produce. Produce from far off is often picked before it is ripe. Some studies suggest that allowing produce to ripen on the plant increases its nutrient content.
- Reduce meat consumption. The amount of energy used to bring meat to the table is rather large, and contributes to pollution and environmental degradation. Additionally, the over-consumption of meat can lead to health problems in humans. Cut back your meat consumption to something more moderate, and you will see a reduction in heart disease, obesity and other health problems.
- Wild caught and free range meat and fish. Wild caught fish and free range chickens and grass-fed cows are usually raised with more environmentally sustainable methods. Additionally, organic meat and eggs are often not infused with hormones, while having an increase in some nutrients. This can contribute to your health, by helping you avoid chemicals and hormones, as well as create leaner meat that is healthier.
What you have in your home can impact your health. Many of the products and chemicals we use in the home are not only bad for the environment, but also harmful to our health.
- Avoid harmful fertilizers. What you put on your lawn can affect your health and the health of the environment. Rain can wash the chemicals into the water supply and they can seep into the ground. Additionally, if you are not careful, you can get the chemicals on your body and in your food if you get your garden. Use environmentally friendly fertilizers, or use organic means, such as mulching, to help keep your lawn healthy.
- Stop using harmful insecticides. Like fertilizers, insecticides can cause health problems. You can increase your health — and your children’s health — by stopping the use of these insecticides. There are recipes for environmentally friendly insecticides, and other products that can help you control pests.
- Clean with healthier household cleaners. Many cleaning products that you purchase at the store have harmful chemicals. These can cause headaches, respiratory problems and enhance other health issues. You might notice a difference when you stop using these chemicals and replace them with non-toxic household cleaners, some of which you can use at home.
- Consider your paint: Many paints release compounds into the air of your home that can be harmful. Choosing high-quality paint for your home’s interior, with a low-incidence of volatile organic compounds can help you reduce headaches and breathe easier.
- Use different diapers. There are estimates that viruses can live in disposable diapers up to two weeks. Sanitation can be a real issue. Additionally, infections and diaper rash can affect the health of you baby. Using cloth diapers instead for most needs can reduce environmental impact and help the health of your baby.
- Be wary of plastic containers. Some studies suggest that contaminants found in some plastics can cause fertility issues and other health problems. Storing your food in these containers can be damaging to your health, just as their production is damaging the the environment. Use environmentally friendly containers for food storage and reduce harmful effects to your health.
- Your financial health. Finally, going green can be good for your wallet. You can save money by making your own household products, as well as save money on transportation costs when you adopt green practices. And, of course, when you are physically healthy, you save money on insurance and medical expenses.