One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog was to highlight how lifestyle choices that are good for the planet can also help you adopt a healthier lifestyle. Here are 4 ways to be nicer to the planet with the added benefit of some serious self-care and a happiness boost:
Spend More Time Outside
Although there are scientific studies that link time spent in nature with lower levels of stress and increased cognitive abilities, I think most of us can rely on personal experience to confirm the hypothesis that we feel more relaxed and balanced when we take the time to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature.
Try getting out of the city at least once a month to take a hike, go cross-country skiing or camp in a provincial park. We also have green space in the city that is calling your name. Take your coffee (try to remember your reusable mug of course) to a park or down to the lake. Use the Pan Am Games bike trail to get you to the winding trails beside the Don Valley River or take a trip to the Toronto Island. However you decide to reconnect with nature, spend a moment to reflect on how you feel. Could you live without this feeling? Spending time outside helps to remind us that the planet is worth fighting for and that we are intrinsically connected to our environment.
Walk When You Can
Not everyone can walk to work but if you can, start doing that once a week! If you’re taking public transit to work, try giving yourself extra time in the morning to walk the last 20 minutes of your commute.
If you can’t realistically give up driving your car to work, reflect on the past week: where have you driven? Could you have walked there instead? How can you convert a few 15-minute drive into 30-40 minute walk every week? Can you walk to the gym, the grocery store or the restaurant? Challenge yourself to use your car one less time a week and replace that with a brisk walk.
Eat Less Meat
Animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions and it has a significant impact on the degradation of our natural world. This industry requires a vast quantity of resources such as land, water and fish! (Yes, fish for pigs and chickens!) and if you include the byproducts of animal agriculture, this industry contributes an estimated 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
A plant based diet is widely accepted by medical professionals as a healthier way to get the vitamins, nutrients and energy that our body needs for high performance. Try to make some meals meatless each week and if you can’t cut out meat completely then try to eat less meat at each meal. I follow Healthy Life Redesign for excellent recipes with no red meat and lots of veggies. The dishes are also dairy-free and delicious!
Stop Before You Shop
We’ve all grown up in a consumer society that has entirely forgotten about the ways of life required to survive periods of scarcity, such as the Great Depression. Our thoughts and emotions are manipulated by economic strategies more than we would ever like to admit. Unwittingly, many of us seek happiness in new stuff and get a thrill from buying something we so desperately ‘need.’
Call to mind something that you have bought recently. Where is it now? Have you used it yet? What about something that you bought 2 months ago?
Sometimes I click ‘Proceed to Payment’ and think,” wait a minute, what am I doing!? I don’t need this! I was just browsing Instagram, how the heck did I wind up in the checkout?” The companies that want you to buy stuff are clever but you can outsmart them. The more we stop to think before we buy, the less strain we put on our wallets and on the natural resources that are used to make those items. All this stuff is either grown or mined from the earth, then shipped, manufactured, then shipped again and again until you get it into your house. This is an extremely wasteful process, all to produce something that you may only use once or twice.
Addressing the root of the issues in our lives that may be causing us to feel we need more stuff, replacing shopping with a more creative activity, or simply saving our money are all ways to decrease stress and increase our joie de vivre.
Pick one or two of these suggestions and get creative with it. In what other ways are you challenging yourself to make better choices for the planet? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.