10 Ways to Make Your Wellness Routine More Sustainable
by Emilia Benton
Even if you’re doing your best to live sustainably in all areas of your life, you might still wonder from time to time if there’s more you could be doing.
Reducing your impact on the environment is a noble goal, and the truth is there is almost always a way to take something you’re already doing and make it more sustainable.
Acts of sustainability here and there can add up, but the real change comes from the actions and behaviors that make up our routines—the things that we do over and over again.
From workouts to grocery shopping, wellness covers a lot of ground, so that’s a great place to start. Also, what better time to focus on caring for Mother Nature than when you’re doing things to care for your own body and mind? Read on for a variety of tips from our favorite expert sources to help you make your everyday wellness routine more sustainable.
1. Do your workouts virtually
“Virtual workouts are the most environmentally friendly option for reducing your carbon footprint, since you save on emissions by not having to travel to a gym or attend an in-person workout class that’s also using energy and resources to produce,” says Alexis Guss, founder of THE LEX EFFECT, a digital fitness platform and app.
By working out at home, you can often get away with using minimal equipment, too, as plenty of workouts utilize single pieces of equipment, like a pair of dumbbells or a resistance band, or even body-weight exercises. You’re also less likely to produce waste by drinking water or a recovery drink from your own reusable bottles or glasses.
2. Walk or take public transit whenever possible
One of the most impactful ways to shrink your carbon footprint is by leaving the car at home and instead choosing active or public transportation, says Jessica Correa, CEO of Random Acts of Green, an Ontario, Canada-based climate action community that works to promote environmental sustainability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Walking also helps to reduce stress, boost mood, improve quality of life, and strengthen muscles and bones, and it gives you access to Vitamin D and so much more,” she says.
3. Opt for the farmer’s market over the grocery store
Guss shops at local markets instead of the grocery store for her weekly produce. Not only are your fruits and vegetables likely to taste better and more fresh, produce from the farmer’s market is often more sustainably grown. more sustainably grown and organic.
The produce sold at farmer’s markets is usually grown with less waste and pollution than what you’ll find at the store, and organic produce spares the environment from synthetic pesticides and chemicals that can make their way into the soil and water.
4. Diversify your diet
Did you know it takes 1 gallon, or 5 liters, of water to grow one almond, or that the production of quinoa has resulted in the clearing of land containing multiple species that we need for biodiversity?
“When we all jump onto a healthy food trend, more needs to be made and this has its own environmental impact,” says Christine Dimmick, CEO and founder of The Good Home Company and author of Detox Your Home: A Guide to Removing Toxins from Your Life and Bringing Health into Your Home.
“We can help by diversifying our diet and not succumbing to trends, and by simply being mindful of our part in pushing products and consuming them,” she says.
5. Ask yourself if you can fix or reuse something before buying new or recycling
If your favorite pair of jeans rips, it’s easy enough to take them to the tailor to be patched or altered. Similarly, if the knob on your blender stops working, why not take 30 minutes and try to fix it before going to Amazon?
“Recycling or buying new should be your last option,” Dimmick says.
This mindset is key to sustainability in general.
6. Switch from disposable to reusable makeup-removing materials
Makeup removing towelettes can be so effective at getting eye makeup off, plus nobody wants to stain their towels. But there are more environmentally friendly ways to clear your face at the end of the day.
A simple switch to reusable cleansing pads or cloths can save you and bags of waste in landfill, not to mention a couple of hundred bucks a year, Dimmick says.
7. Reduce your meat consumption
You may think opting for organic or sustainably raised meat is enough to do your part, but simply eating less meat can be the single most impactful change for reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the personal level, Correa says.
“High meat diets contribute more than twice the CO2 emissions per day than vegetarian or vegan diets,” she says.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing; even just making an effort to designate a few meat-free days a week can have an impact.
8. Switch to sustainable options in your skincare routine
When shopping for hair, skin, and other body care items, Sara and Anastasia Prech, board-certified nurses and holistic wellness coaches at Well and Whole, suggest looking for items that are packaged in glass containers that can be recycled and products that you can order refills for after your initial purchase.
You could also consider switching to shaving with a razor that uses refillable blades or heads rather than disposables, or making the jump to bars of shampoo and conditioner, which are more sustainable and use considerably less packaging than bottles of liquid. (As an added bonus, they’re also easier to travel with as they don’t count as liquids and can’t spill in your carry-on.)
9. Green up your coffee routine
Sara and Anastasia Prech recommend ditching the Keurig in favor of a standard coffee maker, pour-over, French press, or other pod-less option, as most single-use pods are very difficult to recycle.
“To be ultra sustainable, consider a stovetop percolator, or even a drip coffee maker that takes reusable filters, and opt for organic ground coffee or beans,” they say.
10. Take your workout outside
If cardio equipment like treadmills or ellipticals feature regularly in your workouts, ask if yourself if some of those sessions could be done outside instead, suggests Robert S. Herbst, a personal trainer, weight loss and wellness expert, and former competitive powerlifter.
“If everyone would do this, it would eliminate millions of hours of electric motor use, not to mention the use of materials and disposal of used metal and plastic from machines,” he says.