Conscious Shopping

It’s complicated.  Shopping by one’s conscience takes more time, thought, research and label scrutinizing – pain staking yes, but a worthy challenge.  These are factors I consider –

*Second-Hand – Hand’s down, this is the most eco-friendly shopping practice of all.  Producing fewer products reduces environmental damage, and reuse minimizes waste, averting valuable resources away from our landfill.  While shopping second-hand, sometimes I flex my other criteria. Swap meets are becoming a thing!  My daughter recently helped with a community  Stop ‘N’ Swap event in New York City.  I always enjoy all the laughter, and stories as we model and promote our wares seeking a new owner during smaller swap parties among friends.

*Buy what I need – By avoiding impulsive shopping, I minimize my carbon foot-print.  I’m rewarded by saving both time and money.  Focusing on “need” helps one avoid the emotional therapy shopping trap.

*Made in the USA/Shop Local when purchasing “new” items – Certainly challenging, buying as locally as possible minimizes transporting carbon spewing cargo ships and trucks, keep jobs in the USA, and stops supporting companies that gravitate to countries with lax environmental and labor laws.

*Produce – Grow yourself, or buy at Farmer’s Markets.  When purchasing organics, I consult the Environmental Work Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen groups to get more bang for my buck.  Buying in season reduces transportation emissions when produce isn’t transported from countries all over the world.  Frequently cited, food travels an average of 1500 miles from farmer to consumer in the United States.

*Fair trade/Eco-conscious companies – I always start my day with a strong cup of fair trade coffee.  Knowing those working in the fields aren’t over-worked and underpaid enhances my enjoyment.  While considering products, I frequently consult the Good Guide , as their scientists have rated over 250,000 products on a zero to ten scale rating their health, environment and social impact.

*Quality – I will pay extra for products I that will last longer and always purchase energy efficient appliances.

*Buy Healthy Food – Again challenging, I try to avoid processed foods, unhealthy chemicals (additives, preservatives, food coloring), and hormone fed animals and their byproducts.  I also avoid products made with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients which are unfortunately very prevalent and unlabeled.  If you want to see more healthy options available on our local grocery shelves, speak up.

*Avoid Environmentally Damaging Products – Styrofoam, plastic water bottles, cleaning products with toxic chemicals, heavily packaged products, disposables, single-serve products and healthcare products with micro-beads.  With Good Guide’s assistance and lots of research, I am replacing old standbys with healthier products – shaving cream, toothpaste, sunscreen, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner.

Embrace Consumer Power – When we consciously choose where we spend money, we have the opportunity to support businesses and companies that reflect our values.  Many times those “bargains” come at too high of a price to the environment and workers.

Obesity Epidemic – Part IV

Taking back our health requires much more than taking a pill to mask symptoms.  While it will initially take a lot of discipline and effort, in most cases obesity and related health issues can be overcome.  Being heavy and unhealthy doesn’t have to be our new norm. While the food industry will tell you the answer is to simply exercise, specialists say reducing targeted calories is the first step, and all calories are not alike.  Eating healthier takes off the pounds and exercise builds muscles to keep off the weight.

Any lifestyle changes take time – it’s a process, not an event.  While many serious health issues require drastic measures, it is more nurturing to “ease” into a healthier lifestyle. A moderate approach might mean starting by eating fast foods one less day a week, eating vegetarian one day a week, drinking more water, not eating at a desk or while driving, enjoying more family sit-down meals, or shopping at a Farmer’s Market. Gradually adding movement to your day might mean stretching more often, taking a fifteen minute walk, playing catch with your kids, take up gardening, strengthening your balance by standing on one foot or joining a yoga or fitness class. Study labels, try new foods, gradually shift to a healthier diet and move more.  Positive results lead to more positive changes – you will be on your way.  Change is invigorating.  Just keep in mind, for optimal health, the Department of Health and Human Services and American Heart Association recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination).

I find the Environmental Working Group dietary guidelines to be quite helpful.

Eat more vegetables and fruits, avoid pesticides when you can.

Eat less meat, especially red and processed meat – “Red and processed meats are believed to cause cancer and heart disease, and their production is bad for the environment”.

Skip sodas, sugary and salty food.

Eat healthy and sustainable seafood that’s low in mercury.

Beware of processed foods – “The federal Food and Drug Administration allows more than 10,000 chemical additives in food.  Some of these substances are linked to serious disorders.”

While the issues surrounding obesity are quite complex, during my discussion I have focused on dietary changes and a more active lifestyle. Minimizing stress, staying well rested and maintaining a strong support system all help to prevent emotional eating. Cutting down on screen time filled with advertisements, especially those targeting vulnerable kids can also be extremely effective. If you feel the need, continue researching on your own and see what works for you.  Feeling healthy, happy, and energetic is worth the effort!

This is the last of my Obesity Epidemic series – Thanks for staying tuned in!