*This article was written by our amazing friends at S'wheat
Improving Your Health with Sustainable Practices
Deciding to begin really looking after your health can be an overwhelming decision, and it can be tricky to know where to start. You may get a gym membership or go out and grab bags of salad or impulse-buy various nutritional supplements, but jumping head-first into health products without being aware of the effect on your body and even the environment can leave you feeling disappointed, guilty, and burnt-out.
BOXD wants to leave behind this harmful diet culture and focus entirely on being healthy, happy, and friendly to our planet. That’s why each 30g serving of the BOXD plant-based protein shakes contain 21g of protein and consist of 16 carefully selected vitamins to boost your energy, immune system, heart health, brain function and more! Free from added sugars, gluten, soy, and GMOs, these shakes are not only delicious but made with the modern woman in mind, created not to further push a weight-loss agenda but to keep your mind, body, and soul happy - as well as Mother Earth.
So, you have your protein and vitamins sorted, now what? Don’t get too caught up in bizarre fitness methods or fad diets, just follow these six simple steps so you can be both sporty AND sustainable:
Increase plant-based foods in your diet
According to the UN, the meat and dairy industry accounts for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. In fact, livestock production is currently considered to be one of the main culprits of environmental issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss, with beef production in particular being found largely responsible for mass deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. Although nearly 80% of agricultural land is inhabited by livestock, it was found that just 17% of global caloric consumption derives from meat products. Furthermore, the majority of animals kept as livestock suffer due to neglect and compromises of wellbeing to maintain low running costs.
Reducing your intake of meat and dairy products not only does wonders for the environment, but it can seriously boost your health too. Although these can be good for you in moderation, too much can do damage to your body and result in serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, particularly from diets heavy in processed red meat and high-fat and sugary dairy products. Replacing these with plant-based alternatives can lower your cholesterol levels and blood pressure, minimise your risk of related illnesses, and cut back on an unintentional calorie surplus.
Shop locally or grow your own
Shopping locally instead of buying groceries from the supermarket gives you the opportunity to support small businesses and invest in your community whilst making healthier choices. Regularly choosing to support local businesses can give you a more personal shopping experience as you can have closer conversations with those you’re buying from, meaning it can be easier to gain specialist insight into what you’re buying. Another way to obtain natural, local produce is to grow it yourself! This can be a brilliant learning experience and maybe even a surprising new hobby.
Growing your own food or purchasing it locally can give you more time outside, either in the garden or walking to buy produce, which can do wonders for both your physical and mental health. Your food will have a far shorter journey from harvest to consumer, which offers numerous benefits like having control over what comes into contact with it, which can eliminate risk of contamination and allow you to make your own decisions when it comes to pesticides and fertilisers. This also means you will be able to minimise chemicals that can deprive your produce from nutrients and eat only the freshest, most nutritious food.
Avoiding supermarket shopping can reduce your carbon footprint by removing the need to ship products, have them wrapped in plastic, or drive back and forth to the shops. Not only will you save money, involving your family and friends in this encourages healthier choices and can promote mindful habits in regards to both eating and wastefulness. By nurturing your produce and watching it grow, a new perspective into how much time and effort it takes to obtain food can be found and force you to reconsider your attitude towards the value of food and output of waste.
Choose eco-friendly hygiene products
Household cleaning products such as liquid soaps, detergents, and plastic-wrapped laundry pods are often used without a second thought, but once they’ve gone down the drain, they can do real harm to the oceans. Many of these contain ingredients like SLS, which is a foaming agent that allows personal hygiene products to be worked into a soapy lather, and unfortunately this can cause aquatic toxicity. Laundry detergents and soaps containing surfactants can’t properly biodegrade so when they enter our rivers, seas, and water supplies, they become contaminated with toxic metals like arsenic. Exposure to these can lead to an increased risk of issues including damage to neurons and the cardiovascular system.
When entered into a freshwater environment, detergents containing surfactants dissipate the protective layer that coats fish, which leaves them vulnerable to bacteria and parasites, as well as reducing breeding rates and disrupting the endocrine systems of both animals and humans who ingest the water. Even aside from the persistent plastic packaging, the toxins in detergent pods have the potential to cause cancerous effects in organisms who are exposed to them. The phosphates in detergents cause algae to grow and reproduce rapidly, depleting the amount of oxygen in the water and causing harm to aquatic life.
Eco-friendly alternatives that are cruelty-free and kind to the environment can be found in many different packaging materials aside from plastic such as tin or glass. Some may still be packaged in plastic, however refillable versions are easy to find online and many of these brands send you out scheduled refills in sustainable packaging to avoid waste. Personal care products such as body wash and hair care are available in environmentally conscious bar form which won’t contain harmful surfactants or require single-use plastic.
Put down your devices
Electronic devices - mobile phones, laptops, televisions - are more prevalent than ever, but how often do we really stop and think about the impact they’re having on our minds, bodies, and surrounding environment? We use them for everything, yet rarely do many of us review their environmental policies or research the damage mass-producing smartphones is having on our planet. On average, smartphones have around a two-year life cycle, which means these are frequently disposed of, contributing to the near 60 million tonnes of e-waste produced just last year.
In 2007, only 1% of the carbon footprint was caused by ICT and has since tripled. This is on track to exceed 14% by the year 2040, which is half the carbon impact of the entire transportation industry. These devices use components like circuit boards and batteries which contain plastics, lead, mercury, and more harmful chemicals that leave a toxic imprint on the environment, but to obtain such materials, mining needs to take place. The workers’ welfare during mining is extremely poorly regulated and the entire process of mining the necessary materials makes up for a staggering 90% of the device’s entire carbon emissions.
Minimising device usage can not only extend its lifetime, it can save you on energy and money. It’s also been found that less screen time decreases and regulates your blood pressure and cardiac output, improves quality of sleep, heightens ability to focus, and can give you more time to spend on physical activity. Additionally, your mental and emotional health is bound to flourish. Constantly consuming news and media has become such a norm in today's society that we may not realise the emotional distress it can cause. Becoming more independent from technology can really decrease stress and help declutter your mind, as well as giving you the opportunity to practise mindfulness and learn to remain present and engaged.
Exercise in nature
Instead of confining yourself to a stuffy gym, working out in nature offers many more benefits. More dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins are released when you’re moving your body whilst taking in fresh air and a natural environment. This has an impact on your physical health in other ways, too, such as lower blood pressure, increased metabolic rate, a boosted immune system, and a dose of vitamin D, which can all significantly reduce your risk of illness.
If you’re someone who struggles with keeping up your motivation, this can be the perfect way to keep yourself engaged and excited about your fitness journey. The world is your oyster - if you have a regular running route that’s beginning to become monotonous, there’s no reason you can’t switch things up and try something new. Exercising out in nature can also keep you on your toes, with natural inclines, changes in terrain, and wind resistance, you certainly have to work a bit harder, but the rewards are priceless. You can even make it into a social occasion by recruiting a workout buddy to keep you company and keep one another feeling enthusiastic.
Reduce your plastic consumption
Single-use plastics cause a huge amount of damage to the environment. The use of oil during manufacturing, the masses of landfill, the air polluted with greenhouse gases and the ocean with plastic bags that kill our sea life; these are some of the biggest man-made problems our planet faces. Although much of this is due to human error, that doesn’t mean we don’t face the consequences ourselves. Microplastics often find ways to contaminate our bodies, through disposable plastic water bottles or otherwise, which isn’t surprising when you consider the 25 trillion particles of microplastic that join our polluted oceans annually.
Research has recently found that a shocking 80% of people tested had microplastics in their blood. This is definitely cause for concern, with more than twelve thousand chemicals used to produce single-use plastic. The most commonly found plastics come from frequently used items like plastic bags, containers, bottle caps, and disposable utensils, so it’s important we make the commitment to finding sustainable alternatives.
Single-use water bottles contain a chemical compound called bisphenol A (BPA), which has been suggested to disrupt the function of the endocrine system, leading to an array of issues such as hormone imbalance, reproductive issues, low metabolism and energy levels, and a weak response to physical and emotional stress. It’s also been suggested to increase the risk of cardiovascular illnesses as well as complications with blood pressure and diabetes.
At S’wheat, we are committed to sustainability and promoting a circular economy, which is why we’re proud to be collaborating with BOXD. S’wheat is a certified social enterprise, making award-winning plant-based reusable bottles made from waste wheat and bamboo and planting trackable native trees. Our unique, innovative material doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals, pesticides, or additives such as BPA or melamine. This lightweight bottle is deceptively durable and three times stronger than your average steel reusable bottle, yet will eventually biodegrade and not leave a negative impact on the earth.