by Angela Hotaling
Going for a hike or cooking and eating a fresh meal are things that make me feel good. Instead of driving to school, I decide to walk because it saves gas, reduces my daily carbon emissions, and feels great. The connections between taking care of oneself and taking care of the environment go hand in hand. The mission of Rodale.com aims to make people aware of this connection; it promotes sustainable living for oneself and for the planet.
Rodale is a multidimensional company that has confronted environmental issues for many years. It has authored and published books ranging from gardening to recycling, and even climate change. What’s special about Rodale is that its goal is to promote “healthy living on a healthy planet.” The website describes itself and its literature as focusing on the environment and “helps readers grow a better world, starting with their own backyards.”
Not just Rodale sees the importance of this connection, in several blogs and articles healthy living is chained up with the importance of living in a healthy environment. In order to be healthy, we must inhabit a healthy planet in a conscious and sustainable way. The connection is clear at this point; there are personal, physical, and psychological benefits to getting exercise, eating organic food, and taking care of ourselves. To top it off, doing all of these things tends to reduce personal carbon emissions, promote sustainable ways of agriculture, and be more mindful of global environmental issues.
Eatdrinkbetter.com is a blog that welcomes you by declaring, “Sustainable food for a healthy lifestyle.” The web site posts, among other things, articles, links, recipes, and pictures that take the leap between health and the environment. Much of its focus tends to be on promoting vegetarianism and veganism, which are not just healthy choices, but environmentally sustainable and ethical ones as well. In an article posted last week, author Becky Striepe wrote why we should bother to try and adapt a more vegan-like lifestyle. She says that the amount of meat that humans eat is contributing to environmental crises like “global warming and world hunger.” She also says “it can be much easier to make healthy choices when cheese, mayonnaise, butter, and meat are off the table.”
Striepe is certainly not alone in her thinking. Foodies and activists like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman agree that less red meat is key. Pollan’s signature seven-word slogan says it all: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. His numerous books, articles, and media appearances illustrate his feeling that industrialized agriculture is the biggest villain Americans must fight. Bittman’s Food Matters, published in late 2008, was a self-proclaimed “guide to conscious eating.” Much like Pollan, he highlighted how the food industry damages our environment and how eating differently can change that.
There are countless websites targeted at informing, discussing, and sharing how to live a “green lifestyle.” The term “green diva” seems to be thrown around with reckless abandon. For Megan McWilliams and Jennifer O’Neill, being a green diva is what they’re all about. Their site covers topics from organic recipes to eco-friendly products and everything in between. Many blogs and other web sites just like them coupled with strategic ads all target our inner green diva in order to create a home and family that are healthier and more sustainable. There are ways in which to have a wedding, raise children, and do your grocery shopping that are eco-friendly and appeal to women looking to make the change.
The internet offers many tools to people wanting to promote environmentalism by promoting personal health. However, there is a risk with the growing popularity in our culture to turn being or going “green” into a trendy lifestyle. Awareness of the environmental crises our planet faces is at risk of being oversimplified. Activism is at risk of being turned into another commodity. There are many ways in which one can promote environmentalism and environmental activism by living a healthy lifestyle. But let us not forget the large-scale issues in the process. One’s personal health is important, but the connection lies in the necessity of a habitable planet in order for us to exist at all.