[Video] 10 healthy changes to be more sustainable

Marcella McEvoy, Specialist Editor, Bupa
Senior Health Content Editor at Bupa UK
03 March 2022
Next review due March 2025

Are you looking for ways to live more sustainably and needing some inspiration? I spoke to Lauren Gordon, former Lead Behavioural Insights Advisor at Bupa UK. She shares 10 healthy changes you can make to have a more sustainable lifestyle. Watch this video or read on to find out more.

1. Drive less

Switch short car journeys to active travel alternatives like walking, cycling, running, or scooting. Active travel is a great way to boost your physical health, and help reduce emissions.

For longer journeys, try to take public transport, such as trains. If you need to drive, consider how you can minimise the effect on the environment. That could mean arranging a car share. Or switching to a hybrid or electric car (EV) if you can. If you use an electric car, try to make sure that you power it through renewable electricity.

2. Eat more plant-based foods

Eat a well-balanced diet. It’s good for your health and can help to reduce your carbon footprint. Include plant-based foods in your diet, such as beans and lentils, nuts, seed, grains and lots of fruit and vegetables.

If you eat meat, try to reduce your meat and dairy intake if you can. Why not have a meat-free day each week, and more meat-free lunches? Or switch up traditional meat recipes to make them plant-based, such as a lentil spaghetti bolognaise.

3. Don’t waste food

Did you know that if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of polluting greenhouse gases? To help reduce food waste, and eat more healthily, there are a few things you can do.

Firstly, plan your meals for the week using what you already have at home. Then make a list of what you need to buy in the supermarket. This means you’re less likely to buy things you won’t eat. Get into the habit of storing food correctly at home too. Use leftover food to make other meals or freeze any extra portions.

4. Eat seasonally

The way food is produced, and our eating habits, can impact the environment. Growing food out of season, for example, creates greenhouse gas emissions. To help reduce this carbon footprint buy food locally and and eat more seasonally if you can. Are there any local fresh food markets nearby where you can shop?

Eating seasonal food has health benefits too. Research shows that fruit and vegetables have more nutrients right after they’ve been harvested.

5. Get gardening

Whether it’s growing vegetables on your windowsill, or herbs in a pot, get gardening. Growing your own food is good for your mental wellbeing, saves money and reduces the impact on the environment. Make use of indoor windowsills to grow herbs, salads or vegetables, all year round.

If you have space outside, try growing plants to boost biodiversity and wildlife, like butterflies and bees. You’ll feel better knowing that you’re helping to support nature too.

6. 'Reduce' and 'reuse'

The clothing industry produces a huge amount of waste each year. Shopping sustainably can help reduce this waste. Try to buy less. Repair and upcycle instead. Can you borrow, swap, or rent clothes instead?

Why not reuse items to help you make the most of what you have? Cut down on single-use products, such as water bottles or coffee cups, and use reusable alternatives instead.

7. Recycle

Recycling everyday things is another way you can be more sustainable. As well as helping to reduce carbon emissions and preventing pollution, you’ll feel better about yourself too.

Find out what items are accepted by your council’s waste collection and recycle what you can. Don’t forget to check packaging to make sure you’re only putting things that can be recycled in your local collection bins. Recycle Now is a helpful website that tells you where and how to recycle items properly at home and in your local area.

8. Save water

Saving water is important, as it’s essential for our health and the health of our planet. There are lots of small actions you can take to use water more wisely. This could include fixing leaking or dripping taps. Or try washing up with a sink bowl or reusing washing up water for your plants in the garden.

You can reduce the amount of energy you use to warm up water as well. Can you spend less time in the shower? Or just boil the amount of water that you need for a hot drink? Small actions like these will help you save water and reduce your energy consumption.

9. Reduce energy at home

Switch to a greener energy supplier if you can, to help save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. Try to make sure your home is well insulated too. This could include insulating your loft or making sure your windows and doors are draught-proof. A warm home can also help to reduce the health risks of a living in a cold home, such as stress and depression.

In the short term there are other easier everyday energy saving changes you can make. For example, try and make your energy go further by washing clothes at lower temperatures. Or avoid leaving electrical appliances on standby and switch off lights you don’t need.

10. Start small

These are just some of the everyday actions you can take to reduce your impact on the environment, while improving your health and wellbeing.

When deciding on what choices to make, it’s important to be kind to yourself and see what works for you. Every small change can make a positive difference.

At Bupa, we're supporting the health of our planet. We've committed to a wide range of ambitious sustainability measures - partly because it's the right thing to do, but also because we know that the environment is closely linked to our physical and mental health.

Marcella McEvoy, Specialist Editor, Bupa
Marcella McEvoy
Senior Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

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