Going “green” can feel daunting. It can also feel daunting to strive for specific health goals like losing weight or managing a condition.
But you don’t have to do it all at once. And you don’t have to do it perfectly. Working toward a healthier body―and a healthier planet―can come one small step at a time!
Here are eight easy ways to have a better impact on nature while working toward your health goals:
1. Buy produce from local farms or markets.
Fresh fruits and veggies are tasty and great for your body. And when produce is sourced nearby, you’re cutting down on the amount of harmful greenhouse gases it takes to bring that produce to you. It’s a win for your body, for the earth and for your local economy!
2. Walk or bike instead of driving short distances.
Our bodies are meant to move. Getting active while you leave your car at home is a great way to burn calories, spend less on gas and reduce fossil fuels. Try walking to your neighborhood stores for short errands. You could even try biking to work once in a while.
3. Keep a reusable water bottle handy.
Old plastic bottles, paper coffee cups and used soda cans pollute our oceans and fill our landfills. Recycling them is great but avoiding them altogether is even better. Stay refreshed with a reusable water bottle. You’ll waste less, and water is better for you than processed options like sugary sodas or sweetened coffee drinks.
4. Cut down on red meat.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, livestock farming is responsible for 14.5% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. The FAO reports that cows make up 65% of that number. That’s a huge factor in climate change. There are many studies and tons of work being done to help minimize this impact. But swapping out beef for lean fish or plant-based protein more often can have a massive impact on those emissions. And eating more fish and plant-based foods is healthier for you, too!
5. If you eat fish, enjoy a variety.
Fishers often catch a huge range of fishes. But when we only eat one or two types of fish, those fishers are more likely to just dump the leftovers because they won’t sell. Eating a variety of fish is a great way to give fishers more chances to sell their catches, so they’re more likely to keep everything they catch. And that means they’re less likely to overfish more delicate habitats. Plus, enjoying a mix of different fish is a delicious way to get more nutrients for your body—better for you, better for fishing workers and better for our oceans.
6. Choose lean cuts from the butcher’s counter.
When you do eat meat, check out the butcher’s counter in your grocery store. Unlike prepackaged meat options, meats from the counter are fresher. They also often go on sale and you can get exactly how much you want. On top of that, the paper wrapping they use is far better for the planet than the plastic waste and Styrofoam you’d get from prepackaged meats. Ask the employees at the counter for lean cuts so you can enjoy all those nutrients with fewer calories.
7. Cook big batches and keep leftovers.
Cut down on waste? Save money? Save time? Get more control over what you’re eating? What’s not to love! Batch cooking is a solution all across the board. Cooking large batches for yourself and your family means you can spend fewer nights in the kitchen. It also helps you sidestep takeout or delivery options that include tons of plastic waste. And when you cook at home, it’s more likely to be healthier than restaurant meals.
8. Enjoy more whole foods than processed foods.
Another way to cut down on plastic and metal packaging is to eat more whole foods. Highly processed foods come from factories with lots of plastic and carbon waste. These foods also tend to be loaded with extra fats, sugar and salt. Less processed options tend to have a smaller carbon footprint and are better for your body! For instance, orange juice takes a lot of factory work to produce. It’s also often pumped with added sugar. But eating an orange is much healthier and easier to produce. Look for foods that appear as close to their natural form as possible.
Try a few of these tactics and see which ones feel best to you. Even little changes can really add up over time―both for your health and for the health of the planet!