Are you doing these 5 things to help save the planet?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the many news stories about climate change, you’re not alone. The science can be confusing, and there are still questions about what exactly will happen to our planet. Yet there are small things you can do every day that can help make a difference. Start with reducing your carbon footprint — the amount of greenhouse gases that you produce from your daily activities, such as driving and using electricity.
The planet’s health is linked to our health — limiting climate changes means we’ll enjoy cleaner air and a stable food supply. So, here are 5 ways to help the environment — and your overall health.
1. Eat less meat
Eating more vegetables isn’t just good for your health — it’s also good for the environment. The agriculture business, which includes raising livestock, produces 574 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year.1 By simply eating a more plant-based diet, you can reduce your carbon footprint. Not only does a plant-based diet help the planet, it also helps you lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. And it decreases your risk of developing cancer and diabetes.2 Need Meatless Monday meal ideas? Check out our Food for Health recipe blog.
2. Go paperless
Trees play an important role in keeping our environment healthy — a single tree can absorb about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.3 But the U.S. uses about 2 billion trees a year4 — and some of that is for paper waste, such as grocery bags, junk mail, and packaging. To reduce paper waste — and clutter — you can choose the paperless option for many documents and bills. Online bill pay and digital subscriptions are convenient and help you avoid piles of paper at home. Kaiser Permanente offers a paperless option for your medical documents, including bills, claims statements, and more. And more members are opting in — digitally delivered medical bills grew 14% in 2018. Visit kp.org/paperless to choose the items you’d like for digital delivery.
3. Walk more
Transportation is the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.5 Next time you need to get somewhere, walk or bike instead — and burn extra calories along the way. Plus, you’ll spend less time in traffic, which can provide the added benefit of less stress and better physical — and mental — health. Is your destination too far away to walk or bike? Then consider taking public transportation. For your daily commute to work, you could organize a carpool group with your co-workers.
4. Plant a garden
From flowers to vegetables, a garden benefits you and the planet. Plants absorb carbon dioxide, and certain flowers provide food for butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. When you fill your backyard with trees and plants, it helps create a calming, cool space — no air-conditioning required. Don’t have a yard or much space? You can plant potted herbs, such as mint and chives, in your house or apartment. Or add plants such as ferns and orchids. They’ll purify the air and add beauty to your space.
5. Shop locally
When you support local businesses, items usually aren’t shipped great distances to arrive at your doorstep. And walking or biking to a nearby store or market can be easier than driving — and it’s better for the environment. Shopping in your neighborhood also supports the local economy and creates a better sense of community. It’s a win-win.
Did you know?
Kaiser Permanente believes there’s a direct link between a healthy environment and a healthy future. So we’ve pledged to be carbon neutral by 2020 and carbon net positive by 2025. Learn more about our efforts to combat climate change. Since the environment directly affects our health, it’s important for us to keep our planet healthy. Let’s work together for a healthier future.
1Kendra Pierre-Louis, “Your Burning Climate Question: Meat and Global Warming,” The New York Times, January 25, 2018, nytimes.com/2018/01/25/climate/cows-global-warming.html.
2“Healthy Living,” Kaiser Permanente, 2015, share.kaiserpermanente.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/The-Plant-Based-Diet-booklet.pdf.
3“Tree Facts,” NC State University, projects.ncsu.edu/project/treesofstrength/treefact.htm.
4“Paper Recycling Facts,” University of Southern Indiana, usi.edu/recycle/paper-recycling-facts/.
5“Transportation Is the Biggest Source of CO2 in the U.S.,” ClimateCentral.org, November 21, 2017, climatecentral.org/gallery/graphics/transportation-is-the-biggest-source-of-us-emissi