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Going Green? Don’t Be Surprised if You Start Feeling Better Too

Going “green” has become more than just an environmental statement — it’s practically a pop culture phenomenon. “The earth is dying!” sentimental ads scream at you. “Save our oceans!” cry pictures of choked sea turtles and trapped sea birds. What kind of monster would dare to do these things? You, apparently. As if you need more motivation, here’s 4 hidden health benefits that you’ll enjoy when you go green.

You’ll get sick less often

When you take advantage of a sunny day and use a clothesline to dry your clothes rather than the dryer, the UV rays from sunlight disinfects your clothes, killing the bacteria and viruses that would otherwise survive a trip through the dryer. Sunlight and fresh air also make your clothes smell amazingly fresh.

Lowering your thermostat is one of the most common tips for people who want to save energy and start living greener. If you lower it down to 65-68°F, you might notice more than just a lower energy bill — you might feel more energized.  According to Sleep.org, the optimal temperature for sleep is between 60-70°F, resolving restlessness, enhancing REM sleep, and keeping you healthier. And according to House Method’s energy consumption guide, installing a programmable thermostat to automatically lower temperatures for you can save up to $150/year — now that’s what I call a good night’s sleep!

You’ll get more exercise

Electric cars are great and all, but walking or biking to work still has a much better carbon footprint — even if you have to take public transit part of the way. 15-30 minutes of light exercise daily improves your cardiovascular health, strengthens bones and muscles, and reduces your risk of obesity. If you’ve been trying to lose weight but can’t find the time to hit the gym, this might be just what you need.

(And in case you’re feeling guilty and need to know, it take about 400 miles of bike riding to compensate for the carbon footprint of your ride’s manufacturing [Slate].)

You’ll have fewer headaches

Chances are, you are surrounded by artificial fragrances on a daily basis. Bathroom air fresheners at work. Wall plug-ins at home. Dryer sheet scents on your clothes. Added fragrance in cosmetics and cleaning products. And most of them are damaging to air quality, as well as your health.

You don’t have to have fragrance sensitivity or chronic migraines in order to feel sick from artificial fragrances. Most room fresheners and added fragrances contain known carcinogens, cause respiratory distress, and even damage your sense of smell. Others have been reported to cause changes in blood flow, blood pressure, and mood. Petroleum derivatives in synthetic fragrances have been associated with Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s.

That’s just a short list — I won’t even get into off-gassing from new furniture or flooring and the VOCs in paint. I think you get the point.

You’ll start eating healthier

Going green is as simple as choosing one day/week to go meatless. Less meat in your diet means more plant-based food, and with it, more vitamins and minerals. Worried about protein? Fear not — the whole deal about “vegetarians don’t get enough protein” is largely a myth. Lots of plants are rich in protein: quinoa, soy, beans, lentils, nuts, etc. The best part is that you can get all the protein without the saturated fat or hormones.

What about the other days of the week? Head to a farmer’s market or natural foods store for locally-raised meat, eggs, and dairy. These foods typically have fewer hormones, additives, and the animals that produced them are better taken care of, which means what ends up on your plate is more nutritious.

“Going green” isn’t just about the planet — it’s also about living a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle. You’ll probably notice a difference within the week!

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