Adopting an ecohealthy lifestyle means taking a holistic approach to eating healthily, practising self-care and taking care of your mental wellbeing as well as reducing your carbon footprint. You need to look after yourself, as well as taking of the planet. So, where do we start? Below is our ‘beginners guide’ of factors you need to consider when changing to a sustainable life.
What is Ecohealth?
Ecohealth acknowledges the link between our environment and our (physical, mental and spiritual) well being. In the UK and other first world countries, health suffers due to a number of factors that now include the impact of climate change. The link between our health and climate change cannot be underestimated – pollution, increased heat and stress all affect our health so looking after yourself is actually the kindest thing you can do for the planet.
Do people really want to be eco-friendly?
It seems like everyone is talking about eating organic, recycling and saving the planet. But do people really want to be eco-friendly? When it comes down to eating healthily vs eating cheaply, many of us choose cheaper food over healthier options even though we are aware of the negative effects of a poor diet.
Studies show that people want to change their lifestyle but are not sure where to start. In one survey over ‘60 % had a desire to change their lifestyle but many thought it was too difficult or too expensive. In reality, changing your lifestyle can be as hard or as easy as you make it. Equally, you can spend as little or as much as you like changing to a greener lifestyle. The key is a positive attitude towards change.
What are the Benefits of an Ecohealthy Lifestyle?
Adopting a healthier lifestyle is beneficial to you and the planet in so many ways. Eating more plant-based foods will help to reduce your carbon footprint. You can also save money, with small changes like buying vegetables in season.
Being more active can help too. More physical exercise is great for our bodies, particularly if we choose to walk to the shops rather than drive. Most weekly journeys for quick purchases are less than 10 minutes. If we combined exercise with our quick trips, we would be healthier and reduce emissions too.
If walking is your thing then walking in the local park or in the woods also helps you get closer to nature. There are lots of studies that show walking in nature has many benefits including improving brain function and mood. Nature walks also reduce stress and anxiety.
Will a Greener Lifestyle affect my Quality of Life?
Many people have this weird idea that living greener means living ‘au naturel’ out in a forest and living off the land, with no running water. That may be ideal for some but is totally unrealistic.
Living a greener lifestyle does not have to be difficult. In fact, it can improve your quality of life. Many people choose a sustainable lifestyle for the (mental and physical) health benefits that come with it. You can also enjoy living with less waste and improve your mental wellbeing as you become more connected to the environment around you.
A greener lifestyle is about reducing consumption, buying products that are part of a circular economy. The aim is to reduce, reuse and recycle.
How does Lifestyle affect the Environment?
The inconvenient truth is that nearly all our basic needs can be met at the tap of an app. What we fail to accept is that convenience is more expensive, more wasteful, more calorific and more damaging to the Earth than we realise.
The problem is that most of us are time-poor. It’s not easy to change when you are busy all the time, but it is possible to slow down and be more mindful about what we buy to avoid overconsumption.
How Do Eco-friendly Eating Habits Help Our Planet?
The best thing that we can do for ourselves and the planet is to eat healthily. Eating healthy can help you lose weight, improve your mood, and lower your blood pressure. It also helps the environment since you’re not putting as much burden on it.
We know that eating healthy can be difficult when you’re busy and on a budget, but fortunately, there are plenty of cheap and easy recipes that can help you to eat healthier.
There are numerous websites with recipes, but we have chosen to highlight the Forest Foodbank website, which has a list of budget-friendly recipes.
There are even healthy microwaveable meals if you are looking for time-saving ways to eat healthily.
You could opt for a vegan diet. A healthy, plant-based meal benefits you and the environment. Putting plants first on your plate will make an impact. Eating fewer animal products means less methane gas (a greenhouse gas) poured into the atmosphere from their digestive systems. Not only that, but by choosing vegetables over meat or dairy you’ll reduce water usage and deforestation too.
Becoming vegan isn’t for everybody and some people can’t because they have certain health conditions such as an allergy to nuts or soy. You can make small changes in your diet that will reduce your carbon footprint and save resources. For example, eating less meat or choosing sustainable seafood are great ways to lower your impact on the planet. Changing food habits can reduce your carbon emissions by up to 50%.
If you have the budget then you could buy organic produce to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals that are used to produce food.
What about Eating Out?
When eating at restaurants it’s important to remember that many of the ingredients used in meals are not eco-friendly or sustainable. For example, eating fish might be great for the environment but eating unsustainable seafood is harmful to both people and our environment. There is also the issue with waste both food and packaging. It’s best to eat out less often or opt for plant-based foods when eating at restaurants.
We are geared towards convenience more than ever with the numerous apps that allow us to order an array of takeaway foods. We have an assortment of high-calorie food at our fingertips. Both the food and the packaging creates unnecessary waste, particularly in the UK. The ultimate game here is to avoid food waste both at home and when we are outdoors.
Ecofriendly Physical Fitness
Most of us lead sedentary lives so improving our physical fitness is a great idea. Exercise is good for both mental and physical health. There are many physical activities that you can engage in to improve your overall health as well as help the planet too.
Home workouts are great because they keep you fit and they are zero waste experiences – you can’t get more eco-friendly than that! Seriously though, you can be physically fit by using what you have around you. For example:
Stairs: Using the stairs at home or work is a great way to get exercise and reduce your calorie intake. There are plenty of videos on Youtube
Chairs: We all have at least one chair in our home so exercises can be done, even if you’re sitting down.
There are plenty of workout videos including NHS workout videos for beginners. There are also free apps such as the couch to 5K app that you can use to get your body moving. Home workouts do not need to be complicated or lengthy… even dancing around your living room helps to promote your happy chemicals!
Having a space outdoors is a privilege and if you are lucky enough to have your own garden, then gardening can be a great activity. Walking or cycling are both great ways to get some exercise and also help reduce your carbon footprint. All you need is 10 minutes of brisk walking to reap the health benefits. Driving produces pollution, so by walking or cycling, you’re doing your part to keep the environment clean. Or what about hiking? Hiking is another great way to stay fit. It gets you out into nature and helps the environment too!
Sustainability and Mental Wellbeing
Taking care of our mental health is just as important because it has a fundamental role in how we perceive the world around us and the decisions we make. When we are feeling down, anxious or stressed, our ability to think critically and act sustainably is compromised. So, mental wellbeing and sustainability are interconnected; if we want to take care of the planet, we need to take care of ourselves first!
What is Eco-Anxiety?
Eco-anxiety is a fairly new term that describes the worry and fear people have about climate change. It can cause us to feel stress, anxiety and even depression when we think of all the bad things that could happen if nothing changes in terms of environmental protection. If you feel anxious, you are not alone. Research suggests that young people are most affected, although older age groups are also concerned, particularly those with children.
Friends of the Earth suggest that eco-anxiety is more about eco-compassion and is a recognition that we feel connected to others and the environment. There will never be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to reducing anxiety but what is clear is that we all need to find ways to build our mental resilience. Our decisions and behaviour have an impact on the environment so it is essential we can continue to make the right choices that help the planet.
Check our tips for building your resilience.
Is it Possible to have a sustainable lifestyle?
Being more mindful about what you buy and buying based on need rather than want, can enhance your life and make a big difference. This may be a little harder for some people than others but it doesn’t mean that trying isn’t worth the effort! Reducing our carbon emissions begins with the decisions we make about food and other essentials for living.
For example, instead of buying a new mobile phone every time an updated version is sold, use the one we have for longer. Carrying out small actions like this, reduce our stress and anxiety about the impacts of climate change.
Do Consumers really care about Sustainability?
It would seem that the answer is yes, but a lot of people struggle to make sustainable changes in their lifestyles. There are many reasons for this, including a lack of awareness about how easy and affordable it can be to live sustainably. Additionally, there’s often a misconception that living sustainably means giving up things we enjoy or making significant sacrifices
Overall, an eco-healthy lifestyle can make you feel better, look healthier and lower your environmental impact.
We need to keep changing our behaviour and make mindful choices to reduce our impact on the planet. Changing to an eco-healthy lifestyle is possible with small, steady changes such as eating healthily, wasting less and being more mindful about what we buy. Gradual changes are better than none. Changes don’t need to break the bank – they can be sustainable for your pocket as well as the environment.