Being good to the planet is good for your health

July 17, 2008 5:06:41 PM PDT
For many people, the whole concept of going green and adopting a healthier lifestyle can be overwhelming. But doing both at the same time is actually easier than you think! Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente's vice president of environmental stewardship, visited The View from the Bay to share a few helpful tips and suggestions to simultaneously be good to the environment and good to yourself.

Suggestions for incorporating green living with good health:

Day-to-day activities:

  • Frequent the farmers markets and buy local

  • Reduce your transportation costs and the environmental impact. For local errands (like the farmers markets), walk or ride bikes; or take public transit. Cars and trucks run on fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Walking or cycling saves one pound of carbon for every mile you travel. Plus, it reduces congestion. Leisurely bicycling or walking, you'll burn about 50 calories for every 15 minutes. If you must drive, carpool when possible. Gas is expensive.

  • Drink lots of water, but avoid drinking bottled water. Bottled water has enormous production and transportation costs, and the bottles are filling landfills. Bottled water is expensive. If you go with a water filtration system (Brita, etc.), you can save a lot of money.

  • Make your own cleaning supplies. Using simple ingredients such as baking soda, soap and vinegar, you can make easy and non-toxic cleaning products that work, PLUS you'll improve indoor air quality AND save money.

  • Buy durable and reusable goods.

    Physical Activities: Green-themed fun for you or your family

  • Grow your own vegetables with your kids. Start an herb garden. We say eat local foods; you can't get more local than growing it yourself. You'll eat more healthfully. Gardening is a clear illustration for your kids about where food comes from. If you can't do it in your own yard, look into community gardens, which are growing in popularity. You'll save money and you'll burn about 60 calories every 15 minutes.

  • Plant a tree. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air and use it as their energy source, producing oxygen for us to breathe. A tree planted in the U.S. can remove and store 700 to 7,000 pounds of carbon over its lifetime. A tree that shades a house can reduce the energy required to run the air conditioner and save an additional 200 to 2,000 pounds of carbon over its lifetime. You'll burn about 60 calories every 15 minutes.

  • Compost at home. It's good for your garden or would be appreciated by community gardens.

    Activities while traveling or on vacation

  • When dining out, drink water rather than soda, and ask for tap water instead of bottled.

  • When driving, 55 mph uses 25 percent less fuel than 70 mph and it's safer.

  • Consider foregoing flying this year. Enjoy a local vacation, exploring sights and attractions right in your backyard.

    Just as Kaiser Permanente is committed to the health and safety of its members and the communities it serves, it is equally committed to the health and safety of the environment. Our environments -- home, community, school, work, wherever we live, work and play -- plays a serious role in our health.


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