Save Yourself: Protect The Planet[sniplet tweetright]We often look at being eco-friendly as altruistic — recycle to save the planet, or conserve energy so that our children have the same beautiful world that we do. But perhaps we should think a little more selfishly, and see how being eco-friendly effects things closer to you– like your own personal health. As humans, being selfish comes naturally, so let’s harness that natural tendency and take a look at why being eco-friendly will help me (I mean… you).

Being eco-friendly actually goes hand-in-hand with improving your health. The World Health Organization states that 13 million deaths annually are caused by preventable environmental factors. There are a ton of scientific ways to describe this, but in this post we’ll give you a few really simple reasons why protecting the planet is critical for your health, reasons that are understandable even to people who didn’t major in bio-med.

We need a lot of trees. / CC Everyone knows that trees breathe in CO2 and exhale O2 (among other things). We breathe in O2 and exhale CO2 (among other things). We’re a fantastic match, but deforestation has significantly decreased the amount of trees that cover our earth. While we’re not in any current danger of having enough oxygen to breathe, deforestation, especially in tropical forests, has other detrimental effects. By clearing land, we’re decreasing the habitat for whatever species has lived there. In some areas, this has caused the extinction of many species, which is also hurting our biodiversity. If you want to learn more about deforestation, check out the Wikipedia article on it: Deforestation.

Actions we can take:

Reduce, reuse, recycle, buy products that use recyclable materials, plant trees or donate money to plant trees, support rain forest protection groups, and support companies that use environmentally sustainable practices.

Polluting the sky and sea also pollutes us. / CCBig power plants and factories, as we all know, produce a ton of pollutants which hurt the environment and degrade the quality of the air we breathe, but they’re not the only ones that do so. On a daily basis, we pollute. We use toxic chemicals to clean our homes and fertilize our gardens. We buy food products that use toxic substances. We drive and use other energy where it’s unnecessary to do so. By polluting less, we’re helping the air we breathe become less toxic. In addition, when you buy produce that didn’t get fertilized with chemicals, you’re directly limiting the amount of chemicals your body has to deal with. Pollution and your health is such a large topic that it’s impossible to go any further into it here, but you may want to start by checking out the Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor Air Pollution guide to get you started.

Actions we can take:

Reduce waste by reducing, reusing, and recycling, buy products that use recyclable materials, support legislation and political efforts for more stringent environmental standards, use eco-friendly cleaning products, buy organic food products, don’t use toxic fertilizers at home, use less energy at home, and pollute less with your transportation.

A thinner o-zone layer hurts your skin. / CCHave you gotten sunburn lately? Not only does sunburn hurt, but the more you get sunburned, the higher risk you are for skin cancer. I’m sure everyone knows someone who’s has skin cancer, and no one wants it — it’s just not fun. The hole in the ozone was once thought to only be located in one location (I was told it was somewhere over Australia when I was a kid), but it’s more than just one spot. There are holes all over the world, and the layer of ozone is depleting universally. The EPA has more info on Ozone Science.

Actions we can take:

Support non-pollution efforts (see the actions in the section above), wear sunscreen, properly dispose of freon, stay away from products that release ozone harming substances.

We need water — clean water. / CCIf you live in California or the Southwest, you already know that water is not always plentiful and is a resource that needs to be managed. This is the case in many parts of the world. Even if your immediate area gets plenty of water, it still needs to be kept clean and not wasted. When water is not properly treated, diseases can spread so viciously that they’re hard to manage once they’ve been discovered (especially in countries without a good health infrastructure). China has just recently felt the effect of water pollution, with over 1000 children dealing with lead poison (see news article here). If you want to know more about water and its effects on our health, see the World Health Organization’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene section.

Actions we can take:

Don’t waste water at home or while away, don’t let chemicals run into sewer grates or water bodies, support more stringent water pollution legislation, and promote sanitary water education for local communities and throughout the world.

Climate change takes a toll on human life. / CCThe effects of climate change are complicated — some parts of the world will experience increased temperatures where others will experience decreased temperatures. More violent storms may occur due to these changes, as well as more severe wildfires in drought-prone areas. Isolated and quick climate events (such as heatwaves and droughts) take an immediate toll on our health. In the summer of 2003, France experienced a heat wave of such large proportions that tens of thousands of people suffered from heat-related health problems (many of whom died). Climate change is a serious concern for our health. Check out the World Health Organizations article: 10 Facts on Climate Change and Health.

Actions we can take:

Combine all of the actions in the previous four sections. Anything you do environmentally will help decrease the severity of climate change.

And you?

What environmentally aware steps do you take for your health? How has your health influenced your everyday actions?

All photos provided through various Flickr photographers via the Creative Commons license. Please see each image’s alt text for direct attribution.

13 Replies to “Save Yourself: Protect The Planet”

  1. Hi, i am from a shitty country ROMANIA and i student at the most difficult university from the whole world, i will become an engineer soon.

    Do you heard of THE OREGON PROJECT ?
    This is a petition signed by 95% of all official scientists men from the whole world who says the human activity doesn’t cause this global warming.


  2. Hello, there is one thing I “disagree” with in your article:

    “As humans, being selfish comes naturally”

    The individualistic societies we live in have made the concept of self preservation at the expense of the environment (and of other human beings) a normal thing. This selfish aspect is not natural, it comes from our lifestyle in which satisfying our interests hurts the world as a whole.

    My two cents.

  3. We are quite selfish, but I believe society is changing to save itself. More, and more people are doing what they can to save the environment, so I believe we are getting better.

  4. Interesting site. Just happened to come by same mentality and mind. My theme is “HELP THE PLANET BY HELPING YOURSELF” in Japanese I call it 「自然を観て笑いたい」I want to smile when I see nature.

    Let me work on what I can do from Japan

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