If it’s good for you it’s usually good for the environment. From active transport, through to volunteering and food choices, there are many conscious decisions we can make to transform our lifestyles while also having a positive impact on the earth. How about that?!
Inspired and informed by the Drawdown EcoChallenge that I competed in earlier this year, which explored the 100 best solutions to reverse global warming and how we can engage with them, here are five of the best solutions that are good for us and good for the planet!
1. Get on your bike
When you swap a trip in your car with a ride on your bike you reduce your carbon emissions. So if you live in a city with good bike infrastructure, why not increase the number of times you ride your bike to the shops, to work, to play?
Regular physical activity (such as bike riding and other modes of active transport like walking) has loads of benefits for your health too. Health benefits include reducing the risk of heart attack and type 2 diabetes and lowering your blood pressure, to name just a few.
2. Adopt a plant-based diet
Increasing the plant-based portion of your diet reduces the risk of bowel cancer when it leads to eating smaller amounts of red meat. In a win for the planet as well as your health, substantially increasing the plant-based portion of our diets is ranked as the 4th best solution to reverse global warming according to Project Drawdown.
Another way that plant-based diets help the planet is because they reduce the amount of deforestation required to feed us all. With 70% of global soy production allocated to animal feed, switching to plant-based options and avoiding dairy, eggs and meat where possible greatly reduces your carbon and deforestation footprints.
Here are a few other key products to be wary of when trying to make sure your diet has a minimal impact on global deforestation:
- palm oil – found in 50% of all consumer products
- coffee – choose rainforest alliance certified to minimise impacts
- chocolate – again choose rainforest alliance certified
3. Minimise it
From The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Japanese author Mari Kondo to Aussie Peter Walsh’s decluttering tips, minimalism and decluttering are growing trends that can make you feel more at peace and relaxed.
One aspect of this trend is buying less stuff! If you buy less stuff then there is less stuff to sort, stow and throw! Spending money and buying things we don’t need all the time has been called “Affluenza” by Aussie economist Richard Denniss. And avoiding it is one way to look after our planet.
Virgin wood, oil and metals have large carbon and environmental footprints when we consider just how much stuff we all buy each year. Different materials have different environmental footprints, and varying capacity for recycling.
While increasing the amount of products made from recycled material instead of virgin ingredients is good for the planet, the reduce, reuse and refuse mantra goes one step further towards reducing impacts on our environment and climate. It also helps reduce clutter in your life while protecting your budget from purchases that aren’t essential.
4. Go solar
Solar panels on your roof are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Rooftop solar ranks as the 10th best way to reverse global warming, according to Project Drawdown.
They repay their “embodied energy” (the energy used in their manufacture and installation) in times as short as 1-2 years, especially here in Australia with our bright and plentiful sunshine. With relatively short times to repay the financial outlay (typically five years), they are also a great way to save money in the long term.
5. Connect with community
Friendships are important for our mental health and help us reduce stress and anxiety, as well as have fun. At the same time, collective action is probably the most powerful way that we can continue to inspire our politicians and business leaders to promote sustainability and a healthy climate.
So why not increase your impact while gaining new friends and learning new skills? There are plenty of environmental and climate change groups to get involved with:
- Citizens Climate Lobby who educate and engage people on how to lobby and talk to their politicians to promote climate action.
- 350.org was started by environmental journalist Bill McKibben who realised the importance of creating a movement to speak up about climate change.
- For young people there is the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
- For something more local, you could think about a local clean up group like Keep Australia Beautiful or a catchment group that helps rehabilitate and protect creeks.
Give some thought to the kind of activities you would like to do and the kind of friends you would like to make then consider getting more involved.
So that’s five ways to do good and also make you feel good, help you get healthier, richer and happier. Why not try using the power of pleasure to save the planet or try using fun to look after the future? Caring for ourselves and the planet can just become a good habit.
How about you? What have you discovered that is good for you and also good for the planet?