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Does Going Green Make You Healthier?

written by: Lynne Ringle•edited by: BStone•updated: 11/16/2010

Health and going green can go hand-in-hand. Many people would like to make choices that are better for the environment, as well as for their overall health, but some changes can seem daunting. Going green and being healthy does not have to be complicated or even expensive. In fact, its easy!

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    Green Cleaners

    Cleaning your home does not require the use of harsh, toxic cleansers that can be damaging to you and the environment. While many people equate the smell of cleansers with a clean home, the fragrances in those cleansers can be harmful. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the level of air pollution inside a home can be two to five times higher than outside of a home, due in part to the volatile organic compounds (VOC) found in many cleaners. This can lead to health problems such as headaches, dizziness, nausea and difficulty breathing. Improving your health and going green while keeping a clean home can be as simple as making your own cleaning products using natural inexpensive cleansers, such as vinegar, lemon oil, borax or baking soda.

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    Organic Foods

    Pesticides are often used in agriculture to control pests in food crops and, as the EPA reports, are all potentially harmful to humans and animals. Possible serious health concerns are nerve damage, birth defects and cancer. However, those who consider improving their health and the environment by choosing organic foods, or those grown without the use of synthetically manufactured pesticides, may be deterred by the potential cost of buying organic food.

    The non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) addressed this concern with the release of a shopping guide to assist consumers by explaining which foods are most likely to be negatively effected by pesticides and which foods should be purchased organic whenever possible. By using data collected from the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Food and Drug Administration, the EWG states that foods such as avocado, pineapple, onion and corn, which tend to have thicker skins or other protective qualities are lowest in pesticides, while foods such as celery, peaches and strawberries should be purchased organically to avoid high levels of pesticides.

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    Eco-friendly Transportation

    1-1226855068M3Db Making choices for your well-being and a greener world can be as simple as taking a walk or riding a bike. Clogged streets and highways not only contribute to air pollution, which can impact respiratory disorders such as asthma, but all of the vehicles on the road equate to millions of people sitting in traffic rather than moving their bodies. Even if you cannot walk or bike to work, find other times that you can substitute exercise for a car ride. Consider simple trips within your neighborhood, such as to the corner market, the library or a friend's house. If you can walk instead of drive, you will not only be saving gas and helping reduce pollution, but you could be contributing to your overall health, too. A study by Harvard University indicates that walking 30 minutes a day can cut the risk of heart disease by as much as 40%, as well as improve your circulation, your mood and weight control. Simple choices like walking show that taking care of your health and going green can be good for you and good for the planet.

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    References

    1. Environmental Protection Agency: About Pesiticides http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/about/
    2. Environmental Working Group: EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides http://static.foodnews.org/pdf/EWG-shoppers-guide.pdf
    3. Department of Cambridge Community Development: The Health Benefits of Walking: http://www2.cambridgema.gov/cdd/et/ped/ped_hlth.html