Green types can sustain a lot of ribbing from friends who don’t understand the fuss. Why buy food that’s so much more expensive than the canned stuff in the grocery store? Why walk when you can drive? Why not throw the whole mess into the trash without sorting into the recycling bin and compost pile first? I admit it: eco-living can be expensive, inconvenient, and at times, a hassle. We live this way, though, because we’re kind and generous and thinking beyond ourselves, right?
For all the benefits of green living, here’s another: it tends to make you thin and healthy. A green diet contains less fat and empty calories; a green lifestyle involves more exercise. So while your mind is on the melting polar ice caps, your bod is getting ready for the beach.
Here are some tips to become leaner and greener:
- Buy Real Food: Shop the periphery of the grocery store where most of the fresh foods are. Try to avoid the foods in the center aisles which are processed, involve excess packaging, and are full of chemicals and empty calories. Try responsible grocery stores that offer more quality foods: Earth Fare, Healthy Home Market, and Berrybrook Farm, to name a few Charlotte options.
- Buy Local, In-Season Food: Most produce in the grocery store travels over 1,500 miles before it reaches you. Buying local foods doesn’t only prevent transportation-related pollution, it also means buying foods with less preservatives and more nutrition. Try all-local farmer’s markets like Atherton Mill Market, Matthews Community Farmers Market, or Davidson Farmers Market. Join the NC10% Campaign to stay on track!
- Get Moving: When traveling short distances, ditch your car. Not sure the best route to take on foot or bike? Google Maps provides options to optimize your directions for walking or biking. For every mile you walk instead of drive, you burn 100 calories and prevent almost a pound of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Do that once a week, and that change alone will mean you’re ten pounds lighter next year. Make actual footprints, not carbon footprints, and get some cardio at the same time.
- Go Flexitarian: Meat production creates hefty environmental problems: producing one burger patty releases as much greenhouse gas as a six-mile car ride. Furthermore, each calorie of feedlot beef requires 40 calories of fossil fuel energy. Then there’s the health angle: those who eat less meat are usually thinner. If you’re a devoted omnivore, dip your toes into the flexitarian diet with Meatless Mondays.
- Choose Pasture-Raised Meats and Eggs: Animals raised on factory farms are subjected to conditions that their species were never meant to endure: cramped spaces, corn-fed diets, a regimen of hormones and antibiotics. Choosing pasture-raised meats and eggs not only supports proper treatment of animals and more environmentally sound farming methods, it means choosing a healthier diet: pasture-raised products have less fat, less calories, and more nutrients. You can find these products at all-local farmers markets and in some of the responsible grocers listed above.
Eco-friendly living does have its hassles. It can be hard to make so many small sacrifices day-to-day for a greater good we can’t really see. After a while of living green, though, we may have another small sacrifice to make: having to buy new, smaller jeans – and that’s a price I’m willing to pay for my planet.
If you know (or sell) any products to help everyone live greener, healthier lives, drop a comment and share your tips!