By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 11:28, 01 April 2020
Our everyday actions have an immediate impact on us but they also influence our surroundings, and consequently affect the planet as a whole. This concerns the way we consume food, buy products, move around, or do things at home.
Everything we do releases carbon dioxide which heats up our planet, bringing climate change. Climate change messes up our food supply, habitats, water levels.
Apart from staying fit and keeping our bodies healthy we should remember that a sustainable lifestyle is linked to minding our carbon footprint. In general, eco-aware living is more economical, uses less energy, releases less carbon dioxide and is better for our planet.
Locally produced meat offers better quality and contributes to reducing your carbon footprint.
If your school or your neighbour keeps chickens, you can bring your organic waste to feed them. You reduce your waste production and get fresh, delicious and nutritious eggs (or the occasional organic chicken).
More and more people who have favourable conditions decide to breed their own chickens. Pigs are also great recyclers, and organic waste can also become compost. Sometimes it can even be transformed into methane in developing countries. When returned to the soil, organic waste is a fantastic fertiliser.
Finally, eating less meat allows you to choose better quality produce. More demand for the production of higher quality meat (such as free range, organic breeding) also has lower carbon use. Such type of meat production is better handled in smaller farms, where the animals are fed with grass and not soya. Brazilian soya is massively grown in the deforested areas of the Amazon. Therefore, your local beef helps slow down deforestation in Southern America.
By the way, when your diet has more green in it, you get more vitamins and other valuable nutrients. That in turn boosts your immune system and makes losing weight easier.
Managing waste responsibly
Sorting out your garbage is a simple way to reduce the amount of waste in landfills – including the one in your area! It makes its recycling cheaper, because once in the landfill it is difficult and costly to clean and sort waste (so it ends up being burned at best, buried, or in the open).
Companies buy your sorted waste and therefore can offer this recycled resource to manufacturers as a real alternative to new raw material. Take bags for your waste when you go for a picnic and even to clean up more than you threw away. Our waste is toxic and when plastic very slowly decomposes, it poisons animal life, including us.
With your purchasing power, you can favour sustainable packaging, for example made of paper or fiber. This type of packaging recycles itself and is biodegradable, and therefore does not even require energy.
Using less energy daily
If you air dry your clothes rather than tumble dry them, they smell better, especially if you have a garden. Without using electricity for the drier you lower your carbon footprint.
Cooking at home is healthier as you can choose the ingredients responsibly. In larger quantities also saves time, cooking energy and is more economical. Insulating your house will save money on heating or air conditioning, but it will also allow you to sleep better and breathe better.
The same goes for carpooling. With rising petrol costs, it has become a way to make our trips economical, as well as ecological. When you park away from the city centre, parking is often free, and public transport has the lowest carbon footprint. Investing in an electric car obviously reduces your carbon dioxide emissions too, and in some cities, electric cars also have access to free parking or faster lanes.
All these small things have an immediate reward in terms of health, finances and the environmental issues. We can promote and reward industry changes by our most important behaviour: what we decide to buy as individuals drives the market like a vote.
Every day, we can make simple choices in our lifestyle that directly impact our environment. And the environment and well being of our planet are not abstract, distant ideals. What goes around comes around, and if you ever found a dirty picnic site, you probably understand already.