When you walk into the flagship Les Mills location in Auckland, New Zealand, you automatically want to do two things: 1) work out, and 2) do something great with your time on earth.
At the front desk there is a clock counting the number of people taking a Les Mills class in the many countries across the globe that offer Les Mills Programming. Across the walls are motivational sayings, press articles, awards and inspiring photographs of Phillip Mills, his father and founder of the company; Les Mills; Phillip’s wife, Jackie Mills; and his children Les Mills Jr. and Dianna Archer Mills—all of whom are dedicated to a shared mission of building a fitter planet, and play a role in the family business.
Personal health is obviously incredibly important to Phillip Mills, managing director and CEO of global fitness phenomenon Les Mills. But what you may not know is that Mills and his family also have a vested interest in the health of our planet. Why? “I can’t claim any saintly motives. Probably it’s fear. This is real. When you get into the science, there’s no doubt that this is something we have to deal with very quickly. It is the defining issue of our age,” says Mills.
Environmental issues are no longer issues of the distant future, says Mills. Climates are changing—the massive storms we’ve experienced in the United States alone are proof of this.
“We have to deal with it urgently. And it just so happens that a lot of the ways that we can fix it are things that are really good for us, good for our health and good for the environment,” he says.
Small changes, big impact
In 2008, Mills, along with a group of New Zealand business leaders, founded Pure Advantage, a nonprofit that “investigates and promotes opportunities for green growth” to create a “greener, wealthier New Zealand.”
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding environmental impact, according to Mills, is the pervasive idea that one person can’t make a difference.
“It’s millions of people doing all of the thousands of little things. It’s thousands of little things that’ve created the problem and we can undo that by just adopting those simple little things that really do improve our lives,” says Mills.
Here are a few changes you can make in daily life—like Mills and his wife, Jackie, have—to help the environment and ensure a better future for our children and grandchildren.
“If you can afford it, eat organic. It’s better for you and better for the planet. Organic food is getting cheaper and more available everywhere,” says Mills.
How does eating organic affect the environment? Organic farming does not use the pesticides and chemicals conventional modern farming does, meaning fewer chemicals are polluting our environment and our bodies. But it also is one of the best ways we can fight climate change. Organic farming sequesters huge amounts of carbon in soil, which is crucial if we are to limit global warming while we slowly transition to a carbon-neutral environment over the next few decades.
Switch to renewable energy
Going solar is a great way to help the environment. Some communities offer residents the option to purchase some of their energy from solar sources. “We’ve converted our home to mainly solar energy,” says Mills. “All of our hot water is solar. Solar energy is a wonderful, clean form of energy that doesn’t create smog.”
Mills points out that we are still seeing the effects of smog on health. He cites a recent study published by UCLA found that children who live in polluted areas, such as near freeways, have lower IQs because of exposure to ultrafine particulates that come from fossil fuel emissions.
Leave the car at home
Ride your bike or walk to work one day a week, says Mills, who bikes to work whenever he can. This takes cars off the road, and pollution out of the air.
Change the lightbulbs
Switching the lightbulbs in your house to a low-energy LED lightbulb can help reduce your carbon footprint, adds Mills. LED bulbs use less power, which minimizes greenhouse emissions from power plants, generate less heat (which means you don’t need to compensate by cooling your home), and these bulbs do not contain mercury, which is toxic.
Inspired to do more by this article? Great! Next month, tune in for 24Life’s exclusive interview with Jackie Mills on how to create a community that you love. In the meantime, jump in and take a live Les Mills workout in a community near you.
Photo credit: Todd Cribari, Inspiro Studio; Courtesy of Les Mills