Most people think that living green involves making big lifestyle changes. In fact, making a few simple adjustments is all it takes to benefit the environment and boost our overall wellness.
Eat less meat
Eating less meat is one of the easiest and most important ways to reduce your environmental impact. It’s true we need protein to survive, but we do not need the large amounts of animal protein that is common in Western diets. Diseases like cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity have been directly linked to the overconsumption of animal protein, especially red meat.
You don’t need to go vegetarian. Instead, think of meat as a complement to a variety of whole grains and vegetables, rather than the center of the plate. Try going meatless once a week and experiment with beans, lentils and tofu. Apart from the immediate health benefits, it’s also cheaper.
Explore local and organic
For many expats, life in Beijing has become easier thanks to the increased availability of beloved brands from home. But while they’re convenient and familiar, they also add to your overall carbon footprint thanks to the thousands of miles – often air miles – they have to travel.
Opting for fresh, whole foods is a smarter and healthier choice. Babies’ growing bodies benefit more from homemade baby food that uses fresh ingredients – it even tastes better. Fortunately, the number of organic food suppliers in Beijing is growing; they distribute to supermarkets and some sell directly to consumers. For more details, look up "Beijing Organic Consumers’ Association" (BOCA) on Yahoo Groups. BOCA maintains an active list of suppliers from whom you can order.
In China, nearly everybody gets their drinking water from 19-liter jugs because they don’t trust the poor quality of local tap water. However, the bottling process and especially the transporting of these heavy bottles uses a significant amount of energy. Moreover, the plastic used in these bottles is made from polycarbonate, which contains a chemical called Bisphenol-A (also known as BPA) that many studies have linked to developmental and reproductive problems. For both environmental and health reasons, you are better off buying a good tap water filter for your home. Try Aquasana China for their range of shower and tap filters (www.aquasana-china.com). And instead of contributing to the millions of empty plastic water bottles discarded every day, you can carry filtered tap water in a stainless steel bottle or BPA-free plastic bottle instead.
Better health and greater sustainability can go hand-in-hand – and all without the need for any drastic lifestyle changes.