Eight Easy Ways to Go Green

Healthnotes Newswire (April 16, 2009)—Earth Day is almost upon us, so ‘tis the season our thoughts turn to preserving the Earth’s natural resources. But buying energy efficient light bulbs and driving a hybrid car aren’t the only things that help reduce a person’s carbon footprint—the amount of green house gases such as carbon dioxide that you produce through your activities. You can also go green at your favorite store, beginning by making purchases that take less energy to produce than others, including the following:

1. Choose locally grown produce

Fruits and vegetables grown on nearby farms require less fuel to transport, hence a smaller carbon footprint. Look for “locally grown” signs in the produce aisle.

2. Enjoy organics

These foods use fertilizers that aren’t petroleum based, so fewer carbon products are used to make them. They’re also pesticide free, which means no run-off of dangerous chemicals into your water supply.

3. Remember your cloth bags

Tote them to the store instead of using paper or plastic. Think of all the space you’ll save in landfills.

4. Eat more vegetarian meals

“A vegetarian diet is better than buying a hybrid car in terms of fighting global warming because it takes so much more energy to raise farm animals for consumption in terms of grazing land and housing,” says Gary Skulnik, president of Clean Currents, a renewable environmental energy company in Rockville, Maryland. About ten times as much fossil fuel is burned on average to produce animal protein compared to plant protein, like beans and grains. Meat lovers, try adding one meatless meal a time.

5. Experiment with soy substitutes

Use soy crumbles instead of ground beef, veggie burgers instead of hamburgers, and soy “chicken” nuggets. Besides saving on energy to raise the farm animals, cows breathe out methane, which—pound for pound—contributes more to global warming than carbon emissions from cars and power plants.

6. Think in bulk

Spices, nuts, and trail mix in the bulk bins are often cheaper and use less packaging, which is better for the environment.

7. Pick seafood that’s sustainable and healthy

Some fish are over-harvested or are in undersupply to the extent that catching them may harm an ocean’s ecosystem. In addition, some species of seafood pose health risks due to heavy metals and toxins that have built up in their systems. Read up on the latest at www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish/index.html or www.oceansalive.org.

8. Buy recycled aluminum foil

Yes, it’s available and requires just 1/20th of the fossil fuels needed to manufacture it as regular foil.

Deborah Steuer is a freelance health writer from Silver Spring, Maryland. She has contributed to more than a dozen health and diet books and has written for several national publications including Good Housekeeping, Parents and Ladies Home Journal. She is coauthor of No More Digestive Problems (Bantam Dell, 2004).

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