The month of April is a time to celebrate the coming of spring and this beautiful planet we call home. Unfortunately, humans are singlehandedly responsible for much of the waste floating in our oceans and emissions that are changing our climate.
There’s no simpler way to say it: In order for the human species to survive—and thrive—we have to take care of the earth. Below are some ways you can make the earth’s health a priority while still staying fit and healthy yourself.
Walk or bike to work
Are you within walking distance of work, or near a trail you could bike? Walking and riding to work are great ways to get in a morning (and evening) movement session. If neither of these are a viable option, there’s a good chance that public transit is. Hop on your bike or walk to the nearest bus or transit stop to save gas, spare the air and stretch your legs going to and from work. (Bonus points: Try walking instead of driving tomorrow, April 4, to celebrate National Walking Day.)
Carpool to the gym
It’s a great way to save gas (see above: spare the air—and some moolah), and you might get your significant other, family member or neighbor off the couch and into the gym with you. Coordinate your workout schedules so you can take one car instead of two, and make parking easier during the high-traffic gym hours. Sounds like a win-win-win to us.
Go paper and plastic-less
There are so many small ways you can eliminate unnecessary paper and plastic waste. If you have a choice between air drying or paper towels in your gym bathroom, opt for the air dryer. Bring your own reusable shopping bags when grocery shopping, and don’t use plastic produce bags when you’re picking out your apples and bell peppers. Instead, put them directly into a reusable bag and wash them when you get home. When you order water at a restaurant, ask your waiter not to give you a plastic straw. (Did you know that 500 million straws are discarded every day in the U.S.?) These are just a few examples of how you can cut down on waste—but the possibilities are endless!
Buy a reusable water bottle or mug
Don’t skimp on water throughout the day, but do skip one-time plastic water bottles. Instead, find a reusable bottle that you like and fill ‘er up over and over. (Hello, new gym accessory!) You can also bring your own reusable coffee cup with you when you stop at your neighborhood coffee shop. Some shops will even give you a discount on your coffee, and you’re wasting one less plastic or paper cup!
Water is a precious commodity that many people around the world don’t have access to, or it is scarce. Drought is becoming more than an occasional risk; it’s a real threat to some of the world’s major cities. Even if it’s not an immediate concern, when you’re showering, brushing your teeth, cooking or filling up your water bottle, it’s worth conserving water by turning off the tap when you’re not actively using it.
Eat ugly produce
Did you know that roughly 20 perfect of produce grown in the United States will never make it to the grocery store because it’s too ugly to sell? That means we waste billions of pounds of produce every year—produce that is perfectly edible, just not cosmetically appealing. Organizations like Imperfect Produce and Hungry Harvest are aiming to change this by rescuing rejected produce and delivering it to your door—often for a lower price than you would’ve paid at the grocery store. What’s more, Hungry Harvest donates rescued produce to hunger-solving organizations.
Meat is a great source of protein and other nutrients our bodies need to function, but meat production in the U.S. is destructive to our climate and overusing our water supply. One pound of meat requires 1,799 gallons of water to produce. And in 2012, the U.S. alone produced 26 billion pounds of beef, which means 65 trillion gallons of water used to raise that cattle. That’s a lot of water, not to mention more carbon emissions from the cattle. Imagine if you reduced your meat intake—perhaps by incorporating “meatless Mondays” into your routine, or cutting down on your beef consumption by one-third?
Many health and fitness influencers are adopting plant-based diets and ditching meat not only for the ecosystem, but also for their physical health. Even Leo DiCaprio is on board with this trend. The award-winning actor recently invested in a vegan company called Beyond Meat, which produces a plant-based meat substitute available at stores like Whole Foods. With high-protein substitutes for meat like peas and quinoa, this diet may become a mainstay as more people make the switch.
Photo credit: Blubel, Unsplash