How Your Healthy Habits are Better for the Planet

From the moment you first started eating solid foods as a young child, you’ve been urged to eat your vegetables and steer clear of unhealthy meals and snacks. While the wellness benefits of a nutritious diet and wholesome personal health practices are transparent, new research has shown that healthy habits are also beneficial for the environment. 

Your health choices can either help or hinder environmental welfare. Let’s take a look at some of the ways your decisions impact the world around you and how you can form habits that improve your health as well as the health of Mother Earth.

Resources

Those interested in reducing their carbon footprint should take another look at the food they eat and the way they spend their leisure time. The emissions involved in food production, transportation, and cultivation account for 30% of all greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere, while sedentary lifestyles can indirectly contribute to increased demand on local power infrastructures, which only contributes to more greenhouse emissions–even if you use that time to look up “what is Thrive” to aim for better habits in the future. 

The data suggests, both directly and indirectly, that poor wellness habits hurt more than just your body. 

Energy

It’s no secret that it’s a lot better for the environment if you walk to work, school or to run errands rather than hop in your car and contribute to more car-related gas emissions. However, some types of regular exercise can reduce gas emissions in less apparent ways, too. The longer you spend away from screens, especially when you unplug completely and head outdoors, the less electricity you will use overall. 

Power plants that generate electricity must burn fossil fuels to produce electricity, so the more time you spend inside curled up next to a space heater and glued to a screen, the more power your home requires and consumes. 

Food

Some foods have bigger carbon footprints than others. Additionally, some meals made up of foods that are higher up on the food chain require a larger number of resources. As a rule, the animal products you consume are a lot harder on the planet. That’s due in large part to the amount of land, water, feed, and transportation resources they consume. 

A diet rich in healthy fruits, vegetables, and grains will give your health and global ecosystems a boost. Fresh produce, locally sourced ingredients, and food packaged in minimal containers, or no packaging at all. Those are your healthiest, most eco-friendly options. 

Waste

A key component of any diet is being mindful of portion sizes. It also helps with reducing food waste. It is estimated that nearly 30% of all food in the US is thrown away. That’s while individual households dispose of nearly 20% of all the uneaten food in their home. 

When you don’t overindulge at mealtime, and when you create meal plans and only purchase what you and your family will actually eat, you prevent a great deal of potential food waste from ending up in landfills where it can’t properly decompose and releases methane, another harmful greenhouse gas. 

Health Impacts

A healthy diet and a consistent exercise regimen can lead to a healthy life. Healthy people require fewer medical interventions throughout their life, which is good news for the environment. It’s estimated that approximately 8% of greenhouse gas emissions across the United States are due to healthcare-related practices. 

Hospitals regularly generate a lot of solid waste through wasteful, yet medically necessary, hygiene procedures. Healthcare facilities also contribute to pollution. These structures demand a lot of electricity around the clock to keep patients safe, alive, and well. 

If you take better care of your health, you’re a lot less likely to require energy-intensive medical care throughout your life. As a result, you, your family, and the planet can reap the benefits of your good habits. 

Author: Finnegan Pierson