6 easy-to-keep eco health resolutions

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Making small, simple changes can have a big impact on your well-being.

All too often, New Year’s resolutions are broken soon after they are made. The interesting part is that resolutions relating to health and well-being are always among the first to go. To jump-start your January, Green Living brings you six eco health resolutions that are easy to do and keep. Try them today to improve both your well-being and the planet’s.

1. Eat local and organic

Nothing is quite as powerful in supporting good health as buying local, organic produce year-round, supporting your commitment to eating five servings of fruit and vegetables each day. Even during the winter months, there are farmers’ markets open. You can find one in your area by visiting Farmers’ Markets Canada.

You can also shop conscientiously by looking for local brands and locally grown fruits and veggies at grocery and health food stores. In many areas, you can even have fresh, local groceries delivered straight to your doorstep by signing up with sustainable delivery services. If you live in Ontario, check what is in season plus find helpful tips and recipes at the Foodland Ontario site, and contact Front Door Organics for produce delivery to your home. For Vancouverites, services like Spud.ca offer delivery of sustainable foods.

Consider starting your new year by experimenting with delicious recipes that include seasonal foods. Of course, cooking from scratch also saves packaging waste, cuts out processed ingredients and preservatives, and encourages a healthier lifestyle!

2. Go meatless on Mondays

“Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel,” say the folks at Meatless Monday. Visit their website to find out more of the health benefits of eating vegetarian for one day a week, and check out delicious vegetarian recipes from Vegetarian Times. This is a great way to contribute to both your personal health and the health of the planet.

Want to do more? Cut meat out of your diet two days a week and you’ll decrease your carbon footprint by about one-third of a ton. Since doubling a recipe adds little time to your prep work, make extra servings to eat throughout the week and trim your carbon footprint even more.

3. Get outside

No matter where you live and regardless of the weather, this one can be easy to keep. Instead of sitting at home, using electricity by watching TV or playing video games, you can grab some family members or friends and head out for a hike or walk. There are parks everywhere that offer fun and easy trails to explore. You’ll do your lungs a favour by breathing in fresh air, and you’ll enjoy beautiful scenery without even having to leave your city.

If a nature walk isn’t your thing, there are many other outdoor activities to participate in, including skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, skating, biking or mountain climbing. Experiencing nature first hand is a great reminder of the importance of protecting our environment. Remember to stay hydrated by drinking water, regardless of the time of year.

4. Ride the bus – or your bike

Instead of relying on your car to get around, make an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions by finding transportation alternatives. Biking is great exercise and helps to keep you fit all year round, even in the winter. Although it takes a certain amount of dedication to permanently give up a car in favour of a bike, it is doable for shorter trips that don’t require carrying a lot of stuff. It is also easier with public transit in major cities across the country offering bike racks to help plan the right route. Make “bus or bike” your motto this year to stay fit and help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. Also, remember to take advantage of the Government of Canada’s tax credit for public transit and get up to 15 per cent back on your federal tax return.

5. Green the air in your home

During winter months, indoor air can be toxic and cause respiratory irritation and illness. As most of us spend about 90 per cent of our time indoors, it can be challenging to keep our air clean. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that “a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities.” What simple things can we do to protect and improve the health of our indoor air?

One way is to air out your home regularly with a 5 to 10 minute purge. Open the front and back doors (including storm doors) and let in fresh air from outdoors. It’s amazing how much fresher and cleaner your home will be.

Houseplants are an incredible way to help keep the air in your home greener. There is a host of plants that not only add to the ambiance and beauty of a room, but actually pull toxins from the air. From spider plants to aloe, here is a list of 15 that require very little care, from the Mother Nature Network.

Avoid commercial air fresheners, and make sure no one smokes inside. We all know by now the dangers of smoking, and second-hand smoke is even more harmful. The carcinogens and particulates from smoke will hang around long after the butts are disposed of.

Pet owners, make sure to clean your pet’s bed, as fur and dander can add allergens and particulates, including dust, to your indoor air. And, if you have an animal that goes outside and comes in with wet fur or paws, its bed might be a bit mouldy too—another good reason to wash pet beds regularly.

6. Cleaning green

Every product we use to wipe our counters, swish down our drains or toilets, or scrub onto our bodies and hair may be a source of toxic chemicals that end up in the environment, affecting not only the water and land, but also the air your family breathes.

Buy non-toxic cleaning products or make your own with inexpensive, effective choices like vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. Check out Mother Nature Network’s list of green recipes for household cleaners, or the City of Ottawa’s Safer alternatives for household products. For those looking to purchase greener cleaning products, consider Nature Clean.

Use soap and shampoo without harmful ingredients to keep chemicals out of your body and our water system. Download the personal care products shopping guide from Environmental Defence’s “Just Beautiful” campaign and learn how you can make greener choices. Consider products from eco-conscious companies such as Consonant Skin Care, Green Beaver and Rocky Mountain Soap Company to improve your personal health and the well-being of the planet at the same time.

How will you choose to start your new year? Green Living would love to hear your eco health resolutions or tips at editor@green-living.ca.