My Health and the Health of the Planet: Small Changes with Big Results
Individual choice is a vote for your own health as well as the health of the planet. While we may wait years to get lawmakers to agree on what is best for the health of Americans and the health of the planet, you can start the process of change with the decisions you make at home. Real change may be a bottom-up venture. When Americans make decisions that affect economics, lawmakers and corporations will have to listen.
Here are changes you can begin to adopt into your own lifestyle.
- Skip the plastic. Packaging in the form of plastic waste increases our non-biodegradable burden and loads landfills. The plastic then leaches into the environment exposing humans and animals to toxic and carcinogenic compounds. In addition, manufacturing and shipping plastics and packaged products increase emissions.
- Invest in re-usable glass and stainless-steel water bottles and containers. It is cheaper and safer for your health than drinking from plastic or putting your food in plastic food containers only to be exposed to BPAs and other carcinogenic toxins.
- Opt for cloth kitchen towels and rags in place of disposable paper towels or cleaning sponges.
- Skip Styrofoam. It is a source of carcinogenic compounds like styrene and benzene. Bring a mug or travel container to the coffee shop or work to fill.
- Skip the straw or use a reusable stainless-steel straw.
- Stock up on reusable shopping bags and skip the grocery store plastic bags. Americans use over half of all the plastics in the world. That is over 200 lbs per person!! We only recycle 9% of the plastics and these grocery bags are an example of a nonrecyclable plastic.
- Reduce your frozen and packaged foods. They are usually a source of hidden sugars, fats and salt and a big source of packaging with cardboard and plastic.
- Cook with stainless steel or cast-iron pots. Ditch your Teflon non-stick pans as they are laden with toxins that leach into your food. Manufacturing these pans is also bad for the environment.
- Limit takeout food. It is also a source of unnecessary calories, saturated fats, sugars, and salt. One takeout meal can have a great deal of waste associated as well. If you get takeout to skip the plastic flatware.
- Cook from Scratch as much as you can. The food industry would like you to avoid your kitchen but when you let them cook you are not only allowing them to sabotage your health – you are allowing them to damage the environment through manufacturing, transportation, and packaging. Processed food is expensive to your health and comes with long term environmental impacts.
- Demand non-GMO food. While non-GMO food may cost a little more in the short term, the amount you save on health benefits will be a great investment.
- Eat organic preferably purchased close to home. Support the farmers who are doing the right thing. Join a CSA, shop farmer’s markets or buy produce and meats sold in stores that carry products within a few hours of travel.
- Eat more plants. Make your meat a condiment. Avoid conventionally raised meat. Meat raised in feedlots contributes to methane levels and contributes to greenhouse gases. This meat is also fed GMO grains and sugars like Skittles (not kidding) and generally, it has been exposed to hormones and pesticides. Grass-fed, organic cattle produce less methane and contribute to the rebuilding of the topsoil important for agriculture.
- Discard less food. Americans throw away 25% of their food. This goes to landfills and adds to the gas emissions. Consider buying in bulk and putting it into glass containers to be used as needed. Try to use as much of the plant or vegetable. Put cuttings into stocks and broths or at least into a compost bin.
Start small. Any progress will make a difference. If each of us works to adopt these small changes, there will be big results. Your choices are a vote for a healthier self and for a healthier planet.
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” Robert Swan OBE
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Native American proverb