Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on April 16, 2020

Why Go Green?

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“Going green” means making lifestyle choices that are good for your health and the environment. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 25% of diseases are caused by things in the environment that we could change.

Compost and Recycle

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The lifecycle of cans, bottles, and food doesn’t end when your meal does. You can do a few things to make that cycle healthier for you and the environment. Composting creates natural fertilizer from things like food scraps and coffee grounds. That can help ease our dependence of chemicals. It can also lower emissions from landfills. Recycling plastic, aluminum, tin, and glass can save energy and help us keep more natural resources. It helps cut down on pollution, too.

Choose Organic Foods

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Organically grown fruits and vegetables are free of antibiotics, growth hormones, and most pesticides. This type of farming can ease pollution and improve the quality of our soil and water. There's also evidence that foods made this way may have more nutrients and less toxins. So they’re probably better for you, too.

Drink Tap Water

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The water that comes out of the tap in the U.S. is among the safest in the world to drink. In fact, many bottled water brands use it. But it can pick up chemicals during the bottling process. The plastic those bottles are made of doesn’t do the environment any favors, either. It takes fuel and energy to make them, and the waste creates pollution.

Use ‘Green’ Cleaning Products

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These are made without chemicals that can affect air quality or irritate your lungs, eyes, or skin. Instead, eco-friendly cleaners are full of natural ingredients like citrus, seed, and pine oils. It’s also much easier to get rid of “green” products safely when you’re finished using them.

Get Houseplants

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Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are vapors or gases that form smog. They can affect your health and the quality of the air you breathe. Studies show that some types of potted plants, including the parlor palm, can remove some VOCs from the air, especially in well-lit areas.

Walk or Bike

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Fewer cars on the road mean less pollution. That’s good for the environment and your health. What's more, walking or biking to work or errands gives you exercise that can help lower your blood pressure and make obesity and diabetes less likely. They can boost your mood and help you sleep better, too.

Unplug

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It’s probably not a surprise that taking a break from virtual reality and going outside can help you relax, ease stress, and sleep better. It turns out that unplugging also is good for the environment. Electricity makes greenhouse gases, which hold heat in the atmosphere and play a part in global warming. In fact, electricity is the second-biggest producer of greenhouse gases in the U.S.

Eat More Plant-Based Foods

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If we all ate more vegetables and less animal products, we could prevent nearly 11 million deaths a year from things like heart disease and diabetes. It’s also good for the environment, as plant-based foods don’t need as much production. That would mean less greenhouse gases.

Plant-Based Foods: Dos and Don’ts

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Leafy veggies like kale, collard greens, and spinach can be nutritious side dishes. Salsa and hummus are tasty plant-based snacks. Fresh fruits can take care of your sweet tooth. But not all plant-based foods are healthy. White rice, pasta, and processed bread don’t have a lot of nutrients, but they do have preservatives. Cereals -- and fruit juices -- can be high in sugar.  

Plant-Based Diets to Try

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If you’re looking for a way to get started, a few well-established diets center on a plant-based lifestyle and are rich in fiber and nutrients. These include the Mediterranean diet, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and a combination of the two called the MIND diet. They can help lower your blood pressure and bad cholesterol, make diabetes less likely, and help you keep a healthy weight.

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