10 things to do that are good for you and the earth will thank you for.14 Aug 2015
It goes without saying that exercise and healthy eating are good for you, but have you ever thought about how your healthy lifestyle practices are also good for the planet? Regardless of what a box or packet of food says, “natural” truly is best. That word is thrown around on foods a little too freely, the only truly natural food is either fresh produce or a meal which either you or someone else created for you, right in front of your eyes. Using produce grown naturally at home, in a community garden or from a local source where you know the full story of the foods production.
Add using your legs to get around and your well on the way to better fitness and a lower impact on the planet.
Here are 10 simple ways that you can live better and help the planet at the same time. You’re probably already doing a few of them, it’s pretty simple stuff really and everyone wins, you can’t get better than that.
1. Start by growing some of your own food, even if it’s just a few herbs.
Your benefit – Growing your own food will minimize the chemicals going into your body as you can ensure what chemical are used or not used on food grown in your own garden.
Environmental benefit– The food goes from your garden to your plate, that means food miles are zero and so is the amount of plastic packaging.
2. Get a chicken or three.
Your benefit – The eggs are good for and you can guarantee there are no hormones or nasties used in the process from chicken to egg.
Environmental benefit – Again food miles, production and packaging is non-existent. The chickens have been eating your food scraps and improving your soil by turning it and adding valuable chicken poo. Not to mention, backyard chickens usually live a pretty good life and not in a cage.
3. Join a community group such as a community garden or a Landcare / Bushcare group.
Your benefit – Gently exercise, fresh air and socializing. Another not so obvious benefit is the mental stimulation. Learning plant names is like doing brain pushups as you wrap your mind around some Latin. There is also the healthy food, bush tucker, chemical free and seasonal goodies you can add to your families table. Some good old nature time is great for your mental state as well.
Environmental benefit – Turning disused grass verges and mowed fragments into habitat or food forests cuts back on carbon intensive mowing, stores atmospheric carbon, improves soil condition, catches particulates and provides food and habitat for insects and fauna.
4. Cooking from scratch with fresh plastic free produce.
Your benefit – Cooking your own food with ingredients either purchased locally or grown at home will ensure freshness and minimized chemicals.
Environmental benefit – If you cooking with locally sourced in season produce. You have cut right back on food miles, minimized plastic waste, cut back on waste going to landfill and maybe even minimized chemicals entering the environment.
5. Cooking with imperfect produce (it tastes the same).
Your benefit – As with general produce, natural food is best and this stuff is beautifully natural. Often imperfect produce is thrown out because the skin has a mark, its bent or it has lumps and bumps on it. You might get it for free or at the least a little cheaper.
Environmental benefit – Well as we waste about 40% of all grown food, you are rescuing that bumpy carrot from landfill and making good use of all the water, nutrients and transport that went into getting it to you before someone decided it wasn’t good enough to put on the shelf.
6. Drinking tap water rather than bottled water.
Your benefit – Environmental benefits will win out here, but besides the fact that the water in the bottle costs about 1000 x more than water from the tap with zero health benefits in addition to the free stuff, the plastic used in single-use bottles can pose more of a contamination threat than the water. A safe plastic if used only once, polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) is the most common resin used in disposable bottles. However, as bottles are reused, they commonly leach chemicals such as DEHA, a possible human carcinogen, and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), a potential hormone disruptor. And because the plastic is porous you’ll likely get a swill of harmful bacteria with each gulp if you reuse the bottles.
Environmental benefit – More than 80 percent of recyclable plastic bottles end up in landfills each year. They do not break down naturally and release toxic chemicals when they finally do decompose. Drink from the tap or refill your own good quality glass or stainless steel bottle and there is exactly no waste going to landfill.
7. Picking up litter.
Your benefit – Walking, carrying and putting your back into picking plastic is great for the cardio vascular system and muscle strength. It feels good, and how good is that?
Environmental benefit – Clean generates clean. An environment free of litter will help minimize additional litter from being dropped. Litter eventually makes its way to the ocean so you are saving one marine mammal or sea bird at a time.
8. Ride your bike to work.
Your benefit – Cardio vascular fitness, muscle strength, weight loss, improved mental state, confidence and more awareness of your surrounds. It’s a great way to notice the world around you. You could also say it will save you money.
Environmental benefit – Very low carbon intensity as there is no internal combustion engine here.
9. Walk the bush and swim in the sea.
Your benefit – Being out in nature gives you fresh air, exercise, awareness, appreciation and a beautiful state of mind.
Environmental benefit – A great thing about having an awareness of the natural world is that you are more likely to stand up for it and more likely to spread your appreciation of it with your family, friends and children. Nature should be enjoyed, if you spend some time in it; you’ll want to protect it.
10. Up-cycling or recycling materials around your home into useful items and furniture.
Your benefit – Building and creating things is great for your state of mind and teaches you skills in creativity, planning and hand / eye coordination. If you use environmentally products like those needed to clean or decorate the object, you can insure you are not adding harmful airborne chemicals to you home. The object you create will also be one of a kind, cheaper than a bought one and something to be proud of.
Environmental benefit – Generally you are rescuing the items from a trip to landfill, your coffee table or bookshelf will have zero packaging, further minimizing waste. Reusing materials destined for the rubbish and creating something for your home or a friend’s home means resources needed to create the same item from new materials is now not necessary. There is also no transport needed to take the item from your garage to your lounge room.
Most importantly, just keep learning, awareness changes the world. The more aware you are, the harder it will be to do nothing.
One thing I have noticed while researching businesses for Fair Food Forager is that there are many more businesses than I expected, attempting to operate at a more sustainable level. I can’t wait for us to start sharing these with each other.
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