Healthy Living

Green is good – for the environment and you

Want to live longer? Plant something.

A study by the National Institute of Environment Health Sciences showed people (well, women specifically, but it can’t hurt you fellows, either) live longer and are healthier when surrounded by vegetation. The study found much lower death rates for kidney and respiratory disease among women in the greenest areas. Why? Trees, shrubs and plants appear to improve mental health and social engagement, lead to increased physical activity and lower air pollution.

That’s a great reason to celebrate Earth Day. It’s officially April 22 this year, but there’s no reason to limit your celebration to one day, or even one month. Here are some ideas to keep Earth Day alive and growing all year:

  • Plant something. Freshen up your plant beds and containers with spring annuals or perennials (those are the kind that come back again next year). Or think long-term and plant a tree. The Arbor Day Foundation has lots of info on choosing the right tree for your climate and conditions. (Arbor Day is April 27 in most states, the same week as Earth Day.)
  • Cut the cord with plastic. The Earth Day Network says plastic pollution is a global crisis. Think you’re already pretty green? Try the plastic consumption calculator to see how you measure up and how you can cut back.
  • Recycle. Recycling a single aluminum can saves the amount of energy needed to power a TV for four hours, according to Waste Management, a world leader in recycling. Check with your local sanitation company or government to learn what’s recyclable in your area. If you don’t have home pick up, consider contacting your neighbors to take turns delivering collected items to a recycling center. Ditto your workplace.
  • Volunteer. Many communities sponsor beach, river or roadside clean-ups throughout the year. Try local news media, websites such as Mother Earth News or social media to find one near you. Sites like Volunteer Match can hook you up with opportunities, too.
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