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20 Green Tips That Will Improve Your Health and Lifestyle

20 Green Tips That Will Improve Your Health and Lifestyle

Making the shift towards an environmentally-friendly lifestyle can help improve your health and life overall, and it’s also a major boost to the world around you. Ditching unnecessary chemicals, unhealthy foods, unfriendly Earth practices, and bad habits/routines can all add together to make an altogether healthier you, whilst boosting the environment and ecosystem. Wherever you are in the world, the following 20 tips are all achievable endeavours. Some of them are even great fun! So indulge yourselves whilst we all fight for a Greener future.

1. Save Energy

    One of the most direct steps you can take to reduce the impact your lifestyle has on the environment is reducing the amount of energy that you use in your home. Along with making your home greener, saving energy has real, tangible benefits on your life in that it can save you money. Although some energy-saving techniques require some initial financial outlay, in the long-term the money you save can really add up.

    Some energy-saving home improvements you could consider include the following:

    • Use low energy light bulbs: Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) save energy and money – typically they use one-third to one-fifth electricity compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, and last eight to fifteen times longer. This is a no-brainer – get them fitted today!
    • Switch off appliances when they are not in use: Leaving electric items such as computers, audio-visual equipment, and kitchen appliances on “standby” uses electricity. If you are not using these appliances, you should switch them off completely. 
    • Unplug your charger when your phone, laptop or tablet is fully charged: Similarly, when your phone is fully charged, unplug the charger to conserve power. 
    • Insulate your home: Insulating your home properly can make heating much more efficient. Some local authorities offer insulation schemes so it is worthwhile to take the time to investigate whether you are eligible for free home insulation.
    • Lower your thermostat: Reducing the temperature on your heating system’s thermostat by a few degrees will, over the course of a year, reduce the amount of energy and money you spend on heating.
    • Wash your clothes at low temperatures: Much of the energy used in washing laundry is expended on heating the water, so always opt for a lower temperature when possible.
    • Line-dry laundry: Tumble drying clothes uses large amounts of electricity, so use a washing line or drying rack to dry your laundry more naturally.
    • Cover pans when cooking: Whenever you cook on the hob, always try to cover the pans – this reduces the amount of energy that escapes from open pans, plus the amount of time it takes to heat up food and boil water.

    2. Save Water

    saving water

      Saving water around the home is another way to reduce the environmental impact of your lifestyle and, as with reducing energy usage, can save you plenty of money.

      •  Use short cycles for washing clothes: Modern washing machines have an “Eco Wash” option you should take full advantage of.
      •  Fix leaks: Ensuring there are no leaks in your plumbing system – including pipes, taps, toilet cisterns – helps prevent unnecessary water wastage.
      •  Take short showers:  Hot showers are an incredible luxury, so don’t waste this by spending far too long in the shower.
      •  Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth: An often-forgotten habit that wastes litres of water. Turn off the tap.
      •  Install tap aerators on all your taps:  Aerators are cheap additions to the end of taps that reduce the flow of water while improving the pressure of a tap’s stream.
      •  Install a low-flow shower head: Low-flow shower heads work in a similar way to tap aerators – aerating the stream of water, improving pressure and saving plenty of water and energy.
      •  Boil only as much water as you require: Tea and coffee drinkers can help here! Be careful with those kettles.

       3. Cut Down on Fuel

      no gas today

        Whenever possible, avoid driving in a car. Local journeys can be made by walking or cycling, and always look for public transport routes when travelling further.

        Obviously, these options are not available to everyone depending on personal circumstances, but cycling and walking will keep you active and help the local environment.

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        4. Share Car Rides

          Following on from point 3, if you have to travel by car, investigate the possibilities for carpooling with friends and neighbours, sharing journeys for work and leisure, thus reducing the number of cars on the roads. Many busy offices actively promote such schemes so ask around to see if you can take advantage of this.

          5. Go Organic

          go organic

            The food we consume has a profound effect on the global environment – as the world’s population grows, the demand for food increases and the strain on ecologies and habitats increases. The issues around food production, supply, and consumption are extremely complex, but there are some considerations that could help reduce the environmental impact of what you eat while also offering a healthy lifestyle include:

            • Choose local, seasonal produce.
            • If you eat meat, reduce the number of meals containing meat you eat each week.
            • If you eat fish, choose sustainably-sourced species and fishing methods.
            • Try and avoid fish contaminated with mercury (the result of industrial pollution) – you can use the Natural Resource Defense Council’s (NRDC) guide to help you along.
            • Avoid food with unnecessary packaging, as this just leads to additional, unnecessary rubbish for your bin.
            • Always look for sustainable, fair-trade, environmentally-friendly food, as this helps the economy.

            6. Avoid Bottled Water

              Bottled water is inefficient, expensive, and produces large amounts of plastic waste. Instead, use a refillable water bottle and tap water; if you like you could use a water filter to cleanse the tap water and chill the water in the fridge. As the Mother Nature Network point out, the very concept of bottled water is failed due to our our ready access to perfectly healthy tap water.

              7. Ditch Plastic Bags

              plastic bag

                Plastic bags are appallingly wasteful to the environment. It is believed that 100 billion plastic shopping bags are used in America each year, and only 1-3% of worldwide plastic bags are recycled. This means a huge amount of waste, much of which ends up in the wild areas. You can read more worrying facts from Envirosax, but you can also help a great deal by using Earth friendly bags (such as paper, of Bags For Life), and recycle any old plastic bags you have lying around.

                8. Save the Bees!

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                save the bees

                  There are plenty of environmental initiatives you can take up, but one of the most important is the need to save our bees. These little beasts are vital to pollenating the Earth’s vibrant ecosystem, but they have been dying out due to the use of pesticides. You can help matters by purchasing Organic Honey (to support natural bee keeping practices), or donate to bee charities to help promote their wellbeing. Friends Of The Earth are currently offering a Bee Saver Kit to help keep your garden/environment bee friendly.

                   9. Use Charity Shops

                  charity shops

                    Charity shops provide a way to recycle any unwanted items, find second-hand stuff and, importantly, supports the charitable cause of your choice.

                    10. Use Freecycle

                    freecyce.org

                      Freecycle is an internet-based service and community that allows users to share and discover reusable items. Before making a purchase, check out your local Freecycle community to see if you can find the item free of charge, and if you have unwanted goods in your house, use the service to recycle them. It’s easy to use and helps both your local community and the wider environment.

                       11. Share and Borrow

                      I love sharing

                        Books, CDs, DVDs, and more can be borrowed from libraries and friends. You can cut down on packaging and shipping by simply renting or borrowing something, and you can return the favour to your friends to get some proper social interaction going.

                         12. Green Gifts

                        green gift

                          When giving a gift consider a greener alternative, such as making your own present, or offering some of your time and skills to do a favour for your friend or loved one. You can also use environmentally-friendly companies, such as the Eden Project (pictured above). Whichever country you are in there will be suitable sources, so do a quick search to find a unique present.

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                           13. Grow Food in Your Kitchen/Garden

                          Bottle_garden

                            Growing food saves money, gives you an understanding of food production, and puts you in touch with nature. There is, of course, the problem of having neither the time or garden space to plant and nurture a whole vegetable patch, so head for something simple such as potted herbs or a potato sack, which can be grow effectively on a windowsill.

                             14. Make Cleaning Products!

                            galleryimage208300217-aug-3-2011-800x536

                              Modern household cleaning products are expensive, and often damaging to the environment, so a great green alternative is to make some yourself. Safe and environmentally-friendly substitutes use ingredients such as baking soda, soap flakes, lemon, cornstarch and vinegar. It’s quick to find recipes for them on the internet; try EarthEasy for a helping hand.

                              15. Choose Plant-Based Cleaning Products

                              KitchenPods

                                If you haven’t got time to make cleaning products, you can make the switch to environmentally-friendly options instead. Brands such as Ecover are made from natural, sustainable, plant-based ingredients that don’t leave chemical residue behind, and are biodegradable. Very handy for both your crockery and the local wildlife.

                                 16. Buy Recycled Paper

                                recycled paper

                                   Modern recycled paper is perfectly acceptable for most everyday document and letter printing.

                                   17. Go Paper-less

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                                    If you want to go a step further you can choose to go paperless! You can receive all your bills and letters from banks, energy companies, and other service providers by email. And remember: don’t print off documents unless it’s absolutely vital. You can also help the process by recycling any paper and card you no longer need.

                                     18. Repurpose Household Items

                                    repurpose

                                      Everybody should be recycling household items, but this often depends on the recycling provisions available in your local area. Another option for avoiding throwing away household goods is to repurpose them – adapting them for a new purpose in life (like witth the tin can chair above). This could be anything from empty jam jars used to store other food, tin cans turned into tea light holders, wine bottles adapted to become attractive vases or lampshades, or any other example of repurposing your imagination and creativity allows. Popular social media network Pinterest has a regular stream of such ideas for inspiration.

                                       19. Celebrate the Green Way

                                      green birthday party

                                        Big celebrations in our lives are often associated with extravagance and consumption. You can keep this as it should be, but you can be Green whilst you’re enjoying yourself. For instance, gestures such as making invitations from recycled materials, asking guests to bring homemade food, and selecting local/fair trade foodstuffs can all go a long way. At the end of the party you can collect all the used goods and repurpose them into something extravagant, if you’re the creative sort.

                                        20. Green Holidays

                                        green holidays

                                          Holidays can have damaging effects on the places tourists visit via fuel consumption, damage to local habitats, pollution, and distortions in economies. When planning a holiday you should consider green alternatives, or consider a “staycation” by enjoying a local holiday, thus reducing the environmental impact of vacationing, and benefiting/engaging with your local community, ecology, and economy. Green Loons is a great place to start; they offer some amazing destinations with the feel-good Green factor.

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                                          Alex Morris

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                                          Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

                                          Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

                                          There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

                                          “For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

                                          Primal Therapy

                                          Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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                                          How it Started

                                          “During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

                                          It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

                                          “I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

                                          Delving deeper

                                          Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

                                          Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

                                          Some Methods To Practice Screaming

                                          If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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                                          • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
                                          • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
                                          • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
                                          • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

                                          After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

                                          Scream Sing

                                          Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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                                          • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
                                          • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
                                          • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
                                          • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
                                          • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
                                          • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
                                          • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

                                          If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

                                          Scream into a pillow

                                          Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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                                          Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

                                          Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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