Earth Day is coming up on April 22, the annual celebration of all that’s great about the earth and our chance to do something better for the environment. Earth Day is a great concept, but it’s only one day. If you really want to make a difference in your life and the life of the planet, consider it a time to jumpstart a pledge to live better, for more than a day.
I say “live better” because the state of the environment and our personal health and wellbeing are so intertwined. When I asked my nine-year old daughter Amelia what Earth Day meant to her she said, among other things, that you should drive less so you don’t pollute. And that driving less is better for you too because you get more exercise. She gets the earth health-personal health connection.
Dwelling on that connection is a catalyst for change because even people who don’t give much thought to environmental issues usually care about their health and the health of their family.
Whatever inspires you to live better is a good thing.
But where to start? The Earth Day Canada team suggests you take your pick among four basic categories: Eat, Drink, Care, Move.
Eat: Eat more plant-based meals. Eating too much meat isn’t good for us or the planet, for many reasons. Factory farms, the source of most meat, pollute a lot. Cramped quarters in factory farms means diseases are rampant so live stock is fed a steady diet of antibiotics, contributing to drug resistance in people too. (50% of antibiotics used in Canada are fed to livestock.) And the mass production of meat today accounts for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. If Americans ate just 10% less meat there would be enough grain left over to feed 60 million people.
Drink: Drink tap water instead of bottled. Most bottled water is simply tap water anyway and it takes a surprising three litres of water to make one litre of bottled water. What’s more, there is a water footprint behind everything we consume. A bottle of beer requires 76 litres of water to make, a glass of wine 113 litres, a cup of coffee 136 litres. So consume less and don’t waste.
Care: Phase out (or throw out) your personal care products that are loaded with toxins. The cosmetics industry isn’t required to prove an ingredient is safe before it’s used in a consumer product. So unless your products state that they’re free of parabens, pthlates, and at least 10 other known toxins, I would toss them and switch to safer products. Check my blog for more information.
Move: Get more active. Canadians are driving more each year, increasing our per capita greenhouse gas emissions. Park the car more, car pool, take public transportation, ride your bike and walk.
Developing new or better habits can be a challenge so start with something easy, or choose something that’s especially important to you, so you’ll stick with it. Then choose your next challenge…