5 Ways to Protect Your Health (And Help the Environment)

It’s our mission to protect the health of people, wildlife, and the environment. In service of that, we’re working in dozens of countries all around the globe. There we’re sampling animals to track the spread of pathogens, we’re helping communities develop ways to cultivate a more symbiotic relationship with their environment, and we’re collaborating with local leaders, showing them the importance of One Health.

While we work globally to protect your health, there are things that you can do, as well, to protect your own. Things like washing your hands, eating well, regularly seeing a doctor, of course. But there are also small changes you can make which can improve not only your own health, but the health of the planet as well.

Shorter showers

Using less water is obviously good for the planet, so limit the amount of time you spend in the shower. Even better, get a new shower head advertised as low-flow, as older shower heads have a flow rate of around 5.5 gallons per minute. It’s better for you because hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils, drying it out. This is especially true in the winter when dry skin can become itchy and irritated which will cause you to touch that skin more, thereby introducing more opportunities or infection or illness.

Replace red meat

Production of red meat creates about two-and-a-half times more greenhouse-gas emissions than that of chicken or fish. Try to replace red meat once a week with a source of protein less environmentally taxing. The benefit to you is that red meat is often high in cholesterol, whereas fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart. Fish farming, as well, can take a significant toll not only on the environment, but on the species being farmed. Look for seafood labeled as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Go organic

The pesticides and fertilizers used in conventional coffee production can wreak havoc on the environment, seeping into the local water supply. Additionally, a recent study in BioScience found that more than three-quarters of the coffee farmland in Brazil and Vietnam–two of the world’s largest coffee producers–contains no tree cover. Full-sun coffee farming leads to the destruction of forests and leaves many wild species with reduced habitat. Look for coffee designated as “Certified Organic,” “Shade Grown,” and “Fair Trade.” These coffees are better for the planet, and they’re grown using less synthetic agents.

Drive less

Did you know that every mile you drive in an SUV adds 1.5 pounds of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the environment? Make short trips on foot or by bicycle. Not only is it good for the environment, but it’s an easy way to exercise as well.

Recycle

By now, the planetary benefit of recycling is well established. Anything from paper to plastic to electronics can be recycled. Not only is it good for our planet, but studies have shown that people who live an eco-friendly lifestyle are happier and more mindful.

Our health, our environment, our world: it’s all connected. Get health and environment news updates like this delivered right to your inbox when you sign up for our newsletter.

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