I admit that I’m not the greenest person out there, although I am working to improve, from participating in my utility’s efforts to increase power from renewable resources to looking for local produce and food sources whenever possible. One thing I have noticed, though, is that taking green actions can benefit more than just the environment. Going green can help improve your health, and save you money.
Going Green = Increased Activity
When you look for greener ways to live, you are more likely to increase your physical activity. In order to take the bus, I have to walk a mile to the bus stop. And, of course, if you ride the bike to work, or to perform other errands, you are getting good exercise. So, not only do you reduce the pollution from driving an individual vehicle, taking public transit and/or riding your bike also provides you the chance to add a little more exercise to your life. Plus, you are saving money on gas, and aren’t as impacted when they rise.
My garden has also been a source of a little more physical activity in my life. Planting, weeding, and harvesting all require a certain level of physical effort. This is great exercise, and it results in solid savings. During the summer and the fall, my family spends a lot less at the grocery store. We save money in gas, since we don’t have to drive to the store, since we don’t need to buy produce when all we have to do is walk outside and pick it. Plus, we can preserve our harvest for later. I haven’t bought herbs (notoriously expensive) in years, since I can dry our excess for use during the winter.
Healthier Food from Greener Sources
If you are concerned about where your food comes, and if you are worried about some of the practices of large agribusiness farms, looking for greener sources of food can lead to better health. Many of the local farms that provide food also adhere to different practices. When we do eat meat, our products come from local providers that follow sustainable practices, and that do not use hormones. Our dairy also comes from local, hormone-free sources. There have been health concerns related to hormone-injected animals, and if that is a concern to you, choosing products that are raised according to environmentally sound and organic practices can allay some of those fears.
Additionally, many local organic farmers eschew pesticides that are harmful to the environment — as well as possibly being harmful to humans. Choosing produce from local providers isn’t just about the pesticides, though. Produce that has to be trucked in adds to pollution, since it is shipped from distant areas. On top of that, produce is often picked before it reaches peak ripeness so that it doesn’t spoil in transit. There are arguments that produce that remains on the plant longer is higher in nutrients than produce picked before it ripens. Locally grown produce is likely to be healthier, since it can remain on the plant longer. Grow your own produce, and you know exactly where it is coming from, and you can receive the full benefit of nutrient-stocked produce.
Better Health Saves You Money
Good health is one of the best money savers available. Employing green habits and practices can help improve your overall health and fitness, creating a situation in which your body is better able to fend off illness. You are less likely to need to pay for health care (in the United States, where I live, this is extremely important) if you are engaging in healthy practices. And, very often, green living has the side benefit of improving your health.
Even in areas where your health care might not be as expensive, being healthy can save you money. Consider: If you are in poor health and have to miss work, you are missing out on the opportunity to earn more. You are less productive and your earning power drops when you have to deal with the effects of illness and generally poor health. The opportunity cost is huge when added up over a lifetime.
You can also factor your attitude and mental health into this equation. Many of the side benefits of sustainable living (or attempts at sustainable living) can boost your attitude. Exercise helps improve your mood, and leads to increased energy, allowing you to accomplish more. Studies also indicate that healthy eating impacts your mood and mental health. Fresh produce, as well as hormone-free meat and dairy products, help increase brain function in a way that high sugar, high sodium foods can’t.
Really, if you want to improve your quality of life, and improve your health, greener living can be a big help. And you might be surprised at the money you can save in the process.
So, has your health improved from going green? Or, have you saved money by living more sustainable? I would love to hear your story.