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14 Easy Ways to Help Save the Planet
Josh Dorfman, author and host of The Lazy Environmentalist radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio, gave us these tips on going green and living a more eco-friendly life.
Green Your Spring Cleaning
- Choose cleaning products made with plant-based, biodegradable ingredients that are packaged in bottles made from recycled content. Or search Google.com for a green cleaning service in your area. The EPA estimates that the average U.S. household has up to 25 gallons of toxic materials on hand, mostly in cleaners. Replacing them with natural alternatives is better for the planet and for your health.
- Fill your home with plants. Indoor air is typically two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. That's because today's energy-efficient building practices prevent harmful indoor air pollutants like formaldehyde (found in furniture, rugs, and paints) from being properly ventilated from your house, according to a study by NASA. One plant per 100 to 120 square feet of living space can clean and negate the effects of harmful toxins.
- Clear out clutter and avoid the landfill. Join the 4 million members (and growing by 70,000 people per week) of freecycle.org, an organization that connects you with others in your local community to give away stuff you no longer need or want.
- Put locally grown food on your table. The average meal travels about 1,700 miles to get to your plate. Locally grown and raised vegetables, meats, and dairy are often more nutritious and full of flavor. Take a walk to your local farmers' market, or check out sustainabletable.org and localharvest.org to find farms, supermarkets, and restaurants in your area that offer locally grown food.
- Buy organic fruits and vegetables. A good rule of thumb is to go organic when choosing produce with thin skins (such as apples and strawberries) because they can absorb more toxic pesticides and insecticides than produce with thick skins (like bananas or avocados).
- Go meat-free one day per week. It will save you money and help reduce your environmental impact. According to a UN study, raising cattle for food generates more global warming greenhouse gases than transportation. At The Lazy Environmentalist radio show, we choose Tuesdays to go meat-free.
Want to learn more?
Green Your Workout
- Stay hydrated when you exercise -- but not with bottled water. Instead of drinking bottled water, fill a reusable bottle with filtered tap water and you won't be adding to the 38 billion plastic water bottles Americans throw away each year.
- Select high-performance, sustainable workout clothes made from fabrics like bamboo, soy, corn, or organic cotton. Try recycled and PVC-free yoga mats, stability balls, resistance tubes, and weights.
- Make getting to the gym part of your workout. Leave the car (and its harmful emissions) at home, and walk or run. Depending on the distance traveled, you can warm up, cool down, or do the entire cardio portion of your workout.
Josh's Very Best Green Ideas
- Contact your local utility company about alternative energy options for powering your home. Many cities offer greener choices, including wind or hydropower -- my apartment is powered by wind, for instance. Also, do the obvious, like turning off the lights when you leave the room, and unplugging appliances that are not in use.
- Trade in your old gear or get a great deal on used sporting goods and keep them out of landfills. Play It Again Sports is a national sporting goods chain that offers an excellent selection of used equipment.
- Choose organic skincare and beauty products. Look for the USDA Organic Seal or "certified organic" in the ingredient list, which means that 95 percent of the ingredients have been grown according to guidelines restricting pesticide use. Organic products are also usually packaged in biodegradable or recycled containers.
- Recycle your old computers, cell phones, and TVs. Landfill-bound electronics may contain toxic chemicals that could potentially contaminate air, soil, and water. Check out ripmobile.com or collectivegood.com for easy instructions on how to safely recycle or donate your outdated devices to charity.
- Make your next vacation green. Rent a fuel-efficient car, choose an environmentally responsible hotel, or select an eco-tourism destination. It's easy now that major chains including Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Kimpton Hotels feature green options and participate in recycling and energy and water conservation.
Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, March 2008.
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