LifeSynch, a Humana subsidiary, offers extensive health behavior resources, including behavioral healthcare, employee assistance program (EAP)/work-life services, behavioral pharmacy services, health coaches and Web-based wellness tools. As part of their commitment to change health behaviors and improve lives, LifeSynch’s health coaches will be contributing a series of articles that demonstrate how easy it can be to make a healthy change.
Earth Day is Monday, April 22, and is the perfect time to look at your surroundings and find ways to make small changes that can result in a positive difference to the environment. A healthier environment will make it easier for all of us to live longer, healthier lives. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started:
- Turn down heat and air conditioner by 2 degrees
- Reuse plastic grocery bags or buy clothe bags to take to the store with you
- Drink your beverages from a reusable mug or cup
- Reuse plastic baggies
- Use baking soda and vinegar to clean when you can
- Shorten your shower by three minutes
- Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when full
- Air-dry your clothing when possible
- Turn down the water heater a few degrees
- Learn how to make a compost pile
- Go paperless when paying bills
- Use natural light whenever possible
- Shop at a farmer’s market
- Make sure your car tires are inflated correctly to save on gas
- Cut up old T-shirts to use for cleaning instead of paper towels
Earth Day is also about starting new life. Planting trees can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce air pollution, prevent soil erosion, and keep our ecosystem going. Trees create shade which helps with cooling costs in the summer. In the winter, trees help protect your house from cold winds – and reduce heating bills. If you don’t have a place to plant anything outside, put some flowers in a window sill or purchase some indoor plants, which can help clean the air of toxins like formaldehyde, carbon dioxide and benzene.
Before you simply toss out the things you no longer need or use, try to think of alternatives to simply transferring your “trash” into another pile. Can these items be used by someone else? Can it be composted? And to reduce the amount of stuff in the first place, ask yourself whether you can you buy and use less? The following is a list of items and estimated decomposition time (U.S. National Park Service website):
- Orange/banana peels: Up to 2 years
- Cigarette butts: 1 to 5 years
- Plastic bags: 10-20 year
- Leather: Up to 50 years
- Tin cans: 50 years
- Aluminum cans: 80 to 200 years
- Plastic six-pack holders: 100 years
- Disposable diapers: 450 years
- Glass bottles: 1 million years
- Plastic bottles: Indefinitely
- Styrofoam: Indefinitely
On April 22, Earth Day, join me in asking: What can I do to be less wasteful? It may be easier than you think.
Lacey Starkey, a learning facilitator and personal health coach/mentor at LifeSynch, a subsidiary of Humana, has a bachelor’s degree in wellness science and a master’s degree in health education. She is also a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors, exercising and staying active in her local community garden.