8 Ways Going Green Can Improve Your Mental and Physical Health

published Mar 28, 2024
2 min read

Going green means looking out for the health of the planet. Adopting sustainable and eco-friendly choices can deter climate change, reduce waste and prepare the way for a better future.

Beyond caring for the planet, going green can improve your health. Studies show that many environmentally friendly activities also benefit mental and physical health. When you go green, you adopt healthier habits and give yourself a sense of purpose and community. Here are a few ways going green can protect your health.

1. Adds Exercise to Your Routine

Many green practices involve adding physical activity to your routine. Green commuters choose to bike or walk instead of driving to work. Biking to work one day a week can lessen the average person’s emissions from transportation by 67%.

Exercise like biking or walking has clear physical health benefits, like reducing disease risk, strengthening bones and muscles and managing weight. The mental health benefits of exercise include easing the symptoms of conditions like depression and anxiety. These mental health effects may come from:

  • The release of feel-good endorphins
  • The opportunity to take your mind off worries
  • Improved confidence through meeting health goals
  • Social interaction through exercising with others

2. Encourages You to Eat Healthier

About one-third of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions come from food. Reduce your carbon footprint by adopting sustainable food practices, like eating more plant-based foods.

Eating a plant-based diet promotes better physical health. Studies show evidence that diets high in whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil provide benefits like preventing cardiovascular disease. One trial among people at high risk for cardiovascular disease showed a 30% reduction in the risk for heart disease and stroke after five years on a Mediterranean diet.

3. Connects You With a Community

Going green often means engaging with others in the sustainability community. You might connect with likeminded people online or meet people through sustainability events, like:

  • Swap meets
  • Nature reserve outings
  • Trash cleanup events
  • Tree planting

Community engagement forms an essential component of caring for your health. Loneliness and social isolation are associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% risk of stroke. These factors also contribute to an increased risk of premature death. Engaging with your community in meaningful events can improve your health.

4. Encourages Time Spent in Nature

Sustainability efforts often involve spending time in nature. Whether gardening, walking or working toward conservation, you’ll spend more time outdoors as you seek to go green.

Here are a few ways getting out in nature influences your health:

  • Mental capabilities: A natural setting allows the mind and body to relax, which can help you focus and even boost creativity and problem-solving capabilities.
  • Physical wellness: Going outside typically means engaging in physical activities, which benefits health. Nature can also reduce cortisol and muscle tension and increase vitamin D levels.
  • Mental health: Access to green spaces can reduce anxiety, stress and anger. Exposure to natural light also improves sleep/wake cycles for better sleep.

5. Gives You Purpose

Negative news abounds regarding climate change and waste in today’s society. Adopting sustainable practices allows you to do your part in making the planet a better place for you and future generations.

Working toward sustainability gives you purpose, a vital component of life. Those with a strong sense of purpose often exhibit better mental health and overall well-being. A sense of purpose can even improve cognitive functioning and reduce the chances of heart attacks, dementia and strokes.

6. Provides Simplicity

Many sustainable practices allow you to simplify your life. For example, reducing, reusing and recycling will enable you to benefit most from things you already own, saving you from the stress and financial burden of buying new things.

Other green practices like meal prepping offer simplicity by reducing the number of decisions you must make throughout the day. Too many choices can lead to decision fatigue, which contributes to exhaustion, brain fog and irritability. Reducing the number of decisions you have to make can eliminate decision fatigue.

7. Makes Your Home Healthier

A common sustainability practice involves switching to green cleaning products. Toxic cleaning products can threaten animal life, affect water quality and contribute to air pollution. These products also harm humans, including skin and eye irritation. Switching to green products in your home means looking out for the planet and the health of everyone in your home.

Another green practice involves getting regular heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) cleanings. A clean HVAC system will run more efficiently, lowering energy consumption and environmental effects. Cleaner HVAC systems also mean better indoor air quality, contributing to better health, especially for those with allergies or autoimmune conditions.

8. Gives Peace of Mind

Worry, including concern for the future, can lead to physical health effects like:

  • Dizziness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Shortness of breath

Untreated anxiety and worry build over time, causing long-term health effects. If you worry about the planet’s health, implementing green practices into your daily life can give you peace of mind and reduce anxiety.

Support a Healthier Planet and a Healthier You

Beyond supporting a healthier planet, many sustainable practices aid your mental and physical health. Sustainability practices make you more active, support nutritious eating, give you a sense of community and provide various other benefits that make greener living worthwhile. Go green to support better health.