By Lacy Wolff
Our environment is a key driver to good health, and we all can play a role in building a more sustainable environment. In doing so, we will be contributing to our own well-being.
The earth does not have an unlimited supply of resources. We know this, but can sometimes feel as if our individual actions don’t amount to much. But they do. The daily choices we make for a healthy environment are also healthy for ourselves and our families.
Here are a few strategies for going green that can benefit your health and improve the environment:
- Tend a garden. Plant flowers, herbs or just a few vegetable plants. Working in the garden can reduce stress hormones and increase your physical activity levels. When we dig, weed or hoe, we are moving, and even moderate physical activity can reduce our risk of heart disease.
- Grow food and eat fresh: growing vegetables teaches our children that food comes from the ground, not the grocery store. This will instill in them an appreciation for the hard work of the farmers around the globe—an appreciation that might even get them to eat their veggies! A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables benefits the health of your entire household; the fruits and vegetables from your garden are fresher and healthier than the vegetables that travel long distances to get to your plates.
- Walk or ride a bike. When you use fuel-free transportation, you help reduce carbon emissions while keeping your heart and mind strong and healthy. The next time you have to go someplace that’s less than a mile away, try walking or riding your bicycle. You could even skateboard or rollerblade to your destination. If you have to drive, try to park in a lot that is a good distance from your ultimate destination and get some walking in. Walk as much as possible. Make it even more fun by counting steps with a fitness tracker.
- Kick the bottled water habit. It’s important to stay hydrated, but you don’t have use a new plastic bottle every time you want a drink. Use glass, non-BPA or stainless steel bottles that you can refill. It’s estimated that people around the world throw away more than a million water bottles every minute. More than 90% of those bottles don’t get recycled. Plus, switching to a reusable bottle can help you drink more water, which is great for your health and means that our oceans, rivers and lakes that supply our fresh water, oxygen and food are that much cleaner.
There are hundreds of ways you can improve your health, reduce waste and set a positive example for your family and friends.
We’d love to hear how you or your agency is “going green” and improving health. Email us your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Lacy Wolff is the health promotion administrator for the Texas Employees Group Benefits Program (GBP).