Green looks good on everyone

Shopping organically grown produce

Do you drive a car? Watch television? Carry a bottle of water with you throughout the day? Recycle or just carry trash to the curb?

All of these activities are part of your “carbon footprint,” a measurement of how your daily activities contribute – directly or indirectly – to greenhouse gas emissions that impact the environment.

You can help reduce your carbon footprint by going green! Going green means making everyday choices that can benefit your health and the health of the environment. What we eat, how we exercise, the products we use every day –thinking “green” in all of these areas can lead to a healthier body and a healthier planet.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s website offers a number of helpful tips for going green. Here are just a few:

  • Eat local.

    Locally grown food can make it from the farm to the table quickly and at peak freshness. And fresh food often has more nutrients and more flavor than canned or processed food. Food from the grocery store can come from hundreds, even thousands, of miles away by boat, by plane, or by truck. All of these use gas, create pollution, and are hard on the environment.

  • Buy in bulk.

    Buying larger amounts of food from your store's bulk-food section means less packaging. It can also save you money, as long as you don’t buy more than you can use.

  • Just say "no" to bottled water.

    Not only is bottled water expensive, it is a major source of container waste, with an estimated 30 billion bottles consumed in the U.S. each year. Even with stronger recycling efforts, landfills are piled high with plastic bottles. Bottled water also racks up a lot of "food miles" – the distance food has to travel to get from its source to your store. Choose a reusable water bottle, and fill it from your tap. If you prefer the taste of filtered water, you can buy a filter for your home faucet.

Green exercise: the natural way to get fit.

Speaking of fresh air and activity, living green isn’t just about what you eat; it’s also about how you choose to live. For example, you can start reducing your carbon footprint one step at a time just by walking somewhere instead of driving. If you must drive, try parking your car at the back of the parking lot and walking a little farther to the store. If you live fairly close to work, try walking or riding your bike there and back one day a week. It may help improve your heart health and lower your risk of obesity – and you’ll save money on gas, as well.

Getting outside and moving isn’t just good for your body; it’s good for your mind, too. According to Prevention magazine, even just a few minutes spent out in the fresh air can reduce stress.1

Learn to "clean green"

There are countless products on the market designed to clean, strip, sanitize, starch, bleach, soften, polish, brighten, and smooth every corner and surface of a home. The bad news is a lot of these products contain chemicals that could be dangerous to both people and the environment. In some cases, they might cause allergic reactions, burns, or chronic breathing problems. They can even be poisonous. And even though their labels and ads might promise "a better clean," that’s not always the case.

But there’s another option. A simple google search for “natural cleaning products” will result in a wealth of recipes for safe and effective homemade cleaners made from household items as common as rubbing alcohol, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt.

Here are a few more simple ideas for reducing your carbon footprint:

  • Don't wear chemicals! Wear clothes that don't need to be dry cleaned. Not only will you save money, you’ll avoid exposure to hazardous chemicals like perchloroethylene (PCE) used in the dry cleaning process.2
  • Do wear OUT the things you buy. Buy high–quality, long–lasting products and use them as long as you can. You might pay more now, but you'll be happy when you don't have to replace items as often (and this means less garbage in the landfill).
  • Don't throw your old electronics into the trash. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA), recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year. And for every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.3 Look for electronics recycling and hazardous waste collection events in your community.

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