Last week, Chris Cali, Scranton Prep graduate and junior biology major at Villanova University, shared his experiences living in a sustainable environment this summer while studying in Costa Rica at the Center for Sustainable Development Studies. In recognition of “Earth Day,” I have asked Chris to offer tips for sustainable living in order to promote health and wellness:
Getting energy directly from the sun is the one of the cleanest and most efficient ways to make electricity. Solar panels on your roof can reduce your electricity bill to almost nothing, and the costly initial investment will pay off in time.
Drive a fuel efficient vehicle
Driving a car with good gas mileage is a no brainer with the current price of gas. While saving money, you will also be reducing your emission of carbon dioxide and therefore helping to fight climate change. Look into getting a hybrid electric vehicle, as there are tons of options now available, including SUVs and trucks. The extra cost of the vehicle will most likely be made up with the savings at the gas pump.
Reducing daily water use can save money and water for times of harsh weather. Collecting rainwater from the gutters and using it to water plants or the lawn is a good way to save water.
Composting fruit and vegetable remains is a good way, along with recycling, to reduce the amount of waste we send to the landfill. The composted soil can then be used to fertilize your own garden.
Eat Organic and local foods
Organic foods are grown without the use of any artificial pesticides or fertilizers and are not genetically modified. Studies have shown that organic fruits and vegetables actually contain more nutrients than conventionally grown food, and locally grown foods do not have the artificial preservatives that are used on commercial crops.
Eat less meat
The meat industry in the United States is unprecedented in its harm for the environment and our health. Animals are kept in disgusting conditions that are breeding grounds for E. coli and salmonella, animal wastes pollute the air and water, and tremendous amounts of water and food are used to raise the animals. If you love a good steak like I do, buy grass fed beef instead. Grass fed cows are treated better, and the meat contains more Omega 3 fatty acids necessary for a healthy diet.
Visit Nature: Be an Ecotourist
Ecotourism involves visiting a place to experience and learn about nature. It offers hope to preserve nature while at the same time, bringing economic development to local communities. Be wary however, because not all ecotourism is sustainable. Costa Rica has a government run program that certifies hotels and tour operators as sustainable. Travel websites such as Tripadvisor now display whether hotels have this certificate (CST, or Certificate for Sustainable Tourism) so that visitors can better chose sustainable options.
Write to Congress
The United States is one of the only developed nations that doesn’t have some restriction on carbon emissions known to cause global warming. A carbon tax on polluting companies would bring in much needed revenue for our government. Alternatively, a cap and trade system which allows companies to buy and sell carbon credits to each other would promote greener industry while fighting climate change.
Support Green Business
Consumers have the power when it comes to making our economy more sustainable. Read labels and choose products that do not contain substances that will harm the environment. Buy products made in sustainable factories or buy stock in companies that are environmentally friendly. Boycott companies that are known to pollute or treat their workers unjustly.
Planting trees and preventing deforestation is the cheapest and most effective way to fight climate change. Tropical forests are especially important, as they take in huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Every tree helps, so plant some in your own yard.
Be Less Consumptive
Walk more, use less gas. Eat less, use less food and energy. Both you and the planet will be healthier!
CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR: Chris Cali, is a graduate of Scranton Prep and is a junior at Villanova University where he studies biology and pre-medicine. He has a special interest in environmental sciences.
Read “Health and Exercise Forum” by Dr. Paul J. Mackarey every Monday in The Scranton Times-Tribune. Dr. Mackarey is a doctor of orthopedic and sports physical therapy with offices in downtown Scranton. He is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College.