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Monday, July 22, 2024

Blending Health & Sustainability in the New Year

By Angela Fairhurst

 

As the calendar turns over to a new year, it’s the perfect time to embrace a healthier routine. Implementing small, actionable steps can lead to longevity of good habits over time. Here are 10 suggestions for a more sustainable lifestyle and healthier, happier you in 2024. 

 

Mindful Movement

Mental and physical well-being can be gained from being in green spaces. Connecting yourself with nature via outdoor activities such as cycling, swimming, walking or gardening can rejuvenate the mind and body. Mindful exercise routines such as yoga and tai chi do so, as well.  A spin class where the mind can “actively” meditate works wonders for the soul. 

 

Sustainable Travel 

Sustainable travel involves minimizing your environmental impact while exploring the world. Choose slow travel and eco-friendly transportation choices like trains or electric vehicles and opt for accommodations with green certifications. Find properties that are part of initiatives such as Beyond Green or Green Pearls that focus on promoting sustainable practices in the travel and tourism industry, such as mindful consumption, waste reduction, and respect for local cultures and environments. Opt for destinations that prioritize sustainability, like Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, Peru, Costa Rica, Iceland, and other Scandinavian countries. This way you’ll ensure your journey leaves a positive footprint on the planet while preserving natural resources for future generations.  

 

Zero-Waste Living 

Take steps to reduce waste in daily life. Implement reusable versions of everyday, single-use items into your routine to save money and the environment. Try silicone baggies as a replacement for plastic sandwich bags, fabric bags in place of paper or plastic to carry your groceries, and refillable aluminum water bottles in place of disposable plastic water bottles. Additionally, explore zero-waste beauty and personal care products that are both healthy for people and the planet. Soaps and shampoos that come in bar form are a growing trend that save on packaging. Work to avoid products with extra plastic wrap and unnecessary packaging to keep waste at a minimum.   

 

Sustainable Clothing Choices

Textiles account for 66% of waste sent to landfills in the U.S. That’s more than 11 million tons or 80 pounds per person per year! With conscious consumers and environmentalists pushing for change in this area, an increasing number of brands have started working hard to keep clothing out of landfills by changing how they produce their textiles and by providing better ways for consumers to dispose of them. Retailers like Madewell, The North Face, and Patagonia make textile recycling as easy as a trip to the mall by making in-store drop off or recycling containers available to their customers.  

 

Want to do your part? Make a commitment to buy only items of clothing that you’ll wear at least 50 times and stay away from brands that produce fast fashion. Purchase upcycled or recycled clothing or buy from sustainable manufacturers that utilize multi-function adaptable designs and 100% natural fabrics. 

 

Digital Detox

We live in a world where many of us are addicted to technology. It’s important for our mental health to unplug from digital devices to be present in our lives without distractions. Suggestions for implementing a digital detox include creating a designated “tech-free” zone in the home where devices aren’t allowed; set time limits and monitor daily usage; limit the use of screens in the bedroom; and take intentional breaks from social media. The benefits of taking a technology timeout include improved focus, less stress, enhanced social interactions, more control over your time, and better sleep. 

 

Community Wellness

As Blue Zones have come to the forefront of our awareness, so has the importance of community for longevity and well-bring. Seek out local community programs and initiatives that promote health, wellness, environment, and culture in your area. This can include community gardens, group fitness classes, or support groups that focus on sustainable and healthy living. 

 

Mindfulness Meditation 

Mindfulness meditation is a mental training practice that teaches how to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm both the mind and body. It combines meditation with the practice of mindfulness that involves being fully focused in the moment so you can acknowledge and accept your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. Techniques can vary, but practicing mindfulness meditation doesn’t require props or preparation and involves deep breathing and awareness of body and mind. Mindfulness meditation can strengthen areas of your brain responsible for memory, learning, attention, and self-awareness. The practice can also help calm down the sympathetic nervous system.

 

Eco-Fitness Trends 

In recent years, the fitness industry has been flexing its green muscles. This includes equipment made from recycled and refurbished materials, energy-efficient machines, and eco-friendly workout mats, floors, towels, and apparel. This trend isn’t just a flash in the pan — it reflects a broader societal shift toward sustainability. The fitness world is stepping up to embrace environmentally responsible practices, proving that getting fit doesn’t have to come at a cost to the planet.

 

Go Pharmaceutical-Free – Explore natural remedies for common ailments. Daily doses of zinc and vitamin D are known to stave off colds. A thin layer of Vaseline, Neosporin, or Aquaphor inside the nose while traveling is known to help protect from breathing in viruses. Turmeric aids in the reduction of inflammation, a warm epsom salt bath can alleviate swelling from sprains and muscle strains, and honey can be used to help heal wounds due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

 

10 Sustainable Sleep Solutions 

A good night’s sleep is paramount for overall well-being, helping with mental clarity, immune function, and emotional balance. Quality sleep supports memory consolidation, aids in repairing the body, and enhances cognitive function. Use eco-friendly bedding materials like organic cotton or bamboo to keep you cool overnight and create a sleep-friendly environment by minimizing electronic device usage before bed. Maximize natural light for a peaceful atmosphere and add indoor plants to help with air purification. 

 

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