Healthy Living for a Healthy Planet

Healthy Living for a Healthy Planet

A healthier lifestyle can not only prolong your life, it can help protect the climate. Many people have trouble working exercise into their lifestyle. An effective way to incorporate more activity into your life is to walk or bike for errands around town.

A Bureau of Transportation Statistics research study focused on the number of daily trips taken in the United States and reported that in 2021, 52 percent of all trips were less than three miles, with 28 percent of trips less than one mile. These trips are perfect for biking and walking, especially in Alameda with our flat terrain. Walking and biking are zero-emission options that protect the climate. Given that in Alameda 70 percent of our emissions come from transportation, replacing car trips with an active mode of transportation is especially effective and great exercise.

Eating a plant-based diet is also good for your health and the planet. The Mayo Clinic reports a plant-based diet is “rich in fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients. And people who don’t eat meat… generally eat fewer calories and less fat. They also tend to weigh less. And they have a lower risk of heart disease than nonvegetarians do.” Plant-based diets produce less greenhouse gas emissions.

Ruminants such as cows and sheep produce methane gas, a powerful greenhouse gas, so cutting back on red meat and dairy protects the climate. One can start with meatless Mondays and work up over time to a mostly vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

Converting from a gas stove to an electric stove (induction stoves are especially efficient), makes your home environment healthier as gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and fine particulate matter at levels determined unsafe by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to a recent study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, about 12 percent of childhood asthma cases can be linked to gas stoves.

Given that 100 percent of Alameda’s electricity is from renewable sources, switching to an electric stove is a zero-emissions option that protects the climate. Until you make the switch, always run the exhaust fan while cooking on a gas stove.

Planting trees is not only good for the environment as trees sequester carbon, provide habitat for wildlife, filter the air, and provide shade creating a cooling effect, getting outdoors and planting and enjoying trees is good for one’s mental health.

So, take care of your health by taking these planet-friendly actions: bike or walk for errands, eat a plant-based diet, replace your gas stove with an induction stove, and plant some trees.

<i>Joyce Mercado writes for Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda.</i>