There are many good reasons to go green—it helps the environment, conserves resources, etc. But just because working to save the earth is a lofty ideal doesn't mean your actions can't have personal benefits. After all, won't it be more inspiring to work toward a greener world if it means working toward a better you too? Read on for our top tips on how to care for both the planet and your health at the same time.


GO LOCAL

Make it a point to buy homemade or locally sourced goods whenever you can. Not only do they require less packaging and transportation, but since they are readily available in the country, purchasing them also supports the local economy. For fruits and vegetables, less time on the road also means reduced use of chemical ripening agents to slow or hasten the ripening process. Check out the “Buy Pinoy, Buy Local” movement by the Federation of Philippine Industries and the Buy Pinoy Blog for more information.


THE BIG O

The majority of available food contains chemicals, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. While these additives are intended to enhance food’s flavor and appearance and lengthen shelf life, they can actually harm your brain and body health.

Organic food, on the other hand, is produced without these harmful additives. They also contain higher levels of antioxidants and nutrients. Of course, it may not be possible to eat organic 100 percent of the time, but even a few food switches (apples, bell peppers, celery, and the like are top priority, according to Food News) can help. As Joni Mitchell sang in her famous green tune “Big Yellow Taxi,” give us spots in our apples, but leave us with the birds and the bees please!


MEAT-LESS MEALS

Meat production has a huge impact on our environment. From the fodder and grounds they feed on to the processing they undergo from the farm to your plate, animals generate about 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Animal meat is also a source of saturated fat, which can lead to high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other major health problems.

This doesn’t mean you have to swear off meat for life, though. Even a few vegetarian meals during the week can make a significant improvement in your health and the environment. For recipes, check out this article on Lent-friendly meals. And while you’re at it, since abstaining from meat on Fridays is a traditional part of Lent, why not consider creating a regular meatless weekday tradition for the rest of the year too?


lean_and_green_tropical_fruit.jpgTIS THE SEASON

When it comes to picking produce, opt for fruits and vegetables that are in season. Since this fare is sold fresh, it doesn’t undergo prolonged processing or storage—steps that consume a lot of resources—and still retains much of its nutritional value. Plus, these prime picks sell for much lower prices and are often the sweetest in store.


TAKE A HIKE

A lot of people spend hours in traffic only to squeeze in a quick workout between engagements. Why not tackle both transportation and exercise at the same time and make your way to nearby destinations on foot? While farther distances do require the convenience of a car, shorter routes are a great opportunity to walk.

Start by parking slightly farther away rather than driving around the block for a nearer slot—you may even find a cheaper place to park your car if you’re willing to venture farther afield. Slowly progress toward longer routes, and before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to your occasional strolls! Check out Map My Walk for some tried-and-tested walking routes.


MANUAL VS. AUTOMATIC

High-tech, high-powered gadgets may be enticing, but they also tend to consume a lot of electricity. Lower-tech human-powered equipment (think brooms, manual can openers, non-electric razors, and the like) require more effort on your part, but they do the job just the same, while taking less of a toll on the environment. Some tasks, like washing clothes, sweeping floors, and so on, can even give you a decent workout.


BREATHE EASY

We may not see them, but particles in the air we breathe greatly affect our health. Irritants, such as mold, dust, pollen, and the like, can quickly build up if an area is not properly maintained.

Instead of spending more resources for air purifiers and exhaust fans, try some more natural methods: open windows on breezy days, brighten the room with a few houseplants, replace carpet with wood floors wherever possible, and of course, clean the area well and often. Make sure to use natural cleaning ingredients (i.e., baking soda, vinegar, etc. instead of aerosol sprays). Or visit Messy Bessy for some great green cleaning products.


lean_and_green_flowerpot.jpgGROW A GREEN THUMB

If space permits, consider planting trees, flowers, or shrubs in your yard. This added greenery provides lush, tranquil landscaping, as well as improves the air quality by producing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide. The warm weather of the Philippines is perfect for palm trees, select fruit trees (mango, jackfruit, etc.), and tropical flowers (hibiscus, orchids, etc.). You can even work on a small herb garden, which will ensure that the little bits of flavor you add to your recipes, like mint, basil, oregano, and so on, go directly from the garden into the mixing bowl. Many herbs and flowers can be grown right out of pots, so even if you’re living in an apartment or condo, you’ll still have space for a little greenery.


THINK OUTSIDE THE BOTTLE

Bottled water is often thought of as being cleaner and healthier. Studies show, however, that bottled water might not be any better than your average tap variety. Bottled water facilities are not very closely monitored, and several brands have been found to contain levels of contamination. The plastic packaging also consumes vast amounts of energy to produce, collect, and recycle.

So what’s the safest way to quench your thirst? Invest in a household water filter, such as those sold by Everpure and Bodyguard. Filters remove more contaminants than any other purification method, using barely any extra energy in the process. Just turn on the tap, and voila! Purified water for a fraction of the usual cost—and without the added waste that comes with buying by the bottle.


YOU, UNPLUGGED

People tend to neglect the mental and spiritual aspects when it comes to matters of health and wellness. Set aside some time each week where you can be free of distracting electronics and gadgets to do something relaxing. This can be coffee with friends, a stroll through the park, or even a quiet hour of meditation. No matter what you choose, rest assured that both your body and the environment will thank you.


(Photo of tropical fruit by Penny Greb via MediaWiki.org; photo source for potted plant: sxc.hu)

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