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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Little Changes Matter


Some days it's easy to be in this green/holistic space and feel nothing but overwhelm. Juggling work, kids, family life, and more means we don't always opt for the greenest, healthiest, or most sustainable choices. And the day itself can be filled with more choices than we like. A hectic morning start with a fussy child can mean we opt for convenience just to get out the door. And, if we are just starting our journey into living greener and healthier, those choices may seem foreign and harder to adapt to. It's easy to feel like we're not doing enough. And then to feel guilty.

What we need to do, no matter where we are on the journey, is to step back and appreciate the little successes we have each day. Even the small choices matter - for us and for our families. Maybe our workout went out the window when life got busy, but playing outdoors with the kids means we broke a sweat and got some exercise. Perhaps cold cereal helped us get everyone off to school or camp, but a green smoothie later on helped ramp up the nutrition for the day. How can you take baby steps to wellness each day that matter? Here are some simple things you can do - and celebrate - to assure your success:

An organic apple a day (in season, of course). Americans love apples. But according to the Wall Street Journal, 98% of apples in a recent test showed positive results for pesticide residue. Traces of 48 different pesticides were found in the sample, including 5 unapproved pesticides. Samples were taken after "washing" under cold water for 10 seconds, to mimic common household practices, and then tested for pesticides. The numbers are not pretty. What you can do: go organic. Feel good each day by swapping out your conventional apples with organic ones. Simple and satisfying. No guilt.

Use one reusable bag a day. We all know plastic is bad for the environment. But how much energy do you save by using just one reusable bag instead of a plastic one? It takes approximately 0.5 megajoules to create and dispose of just one plastic bag. Every two days, you can save one megajoule of energy. What does that mean? One megajoule is enough energy to power a 100 watt lightbulb for a little over 2 hours 45 minutes. One megajoule is approximately the amount of energy an adult man burns, on average, in 3-4 hours. That's quite a bit of energy for one bag. Not to mention what you are saving from the landfill.

Take a 10 minute walk. Sure, an hour of power pumping at the gym would be fabulous. But perhaps that doesn't fit into your schedule. Try a brisk 10 minute walk. Or a few. Just 10 minutes of brisk walking each day can burn off the calories in one small chocolate chip cookie, not to mention improve your fitness level and overall health. If you can take more than one 10 minute walk each day, even better. With a little one in a sling or stroller, you can go 10 minutes without too much fuss.

Buy local. Whether shopping in a supermarket or browsing your farmer's market, you can make a big difference each day by buying local. The average head of spinach or bunch of carrots travels 1,800 miles to get to your table. Because of food miles (the distance our food travels), "we currently consume 20 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce two calories of food energy." The closer to home, the better for us and for the planet.

Find something simple you can do each day on your natural living journey and lose the guilt. Holistic living is about making the best choices we can for healthy, sustainable living. Sometimes the big things aren't possible but even baby steps have an impact!

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