Updated: Apr 9, 2020
As a Holistic Nutritionist, mindfulness does not stop at my plate. Sure, my journey started out that way with mindful eating; I would often ask myself: Am I hungry? What do I want to eat? How will this food choice nourish my body? Am I chewing my food and aware of smell, taste, and texture? Am I full? You get the picture...
And I encourage the clients I work with to do the same.
But mindfulness should not stop there. In my personal life, I started to pay more attention to the quality of my food and where it came from. Are these fruits and veggies conventionally grown or organic? What is actually in these food products? Is this animal protein grass-fed and humanely raised? For both myself and my clients, it is important to cultivate mindfulness practices around food because ultimately, we want to support industries whose practices we believe to be good for our community and environment, and overall- improve our health and well-being through quality nutrition.
As a Holistic Nutritionist in Ann Arbor, continuing to carry mindfulness other areas of my life, only made sense. I know that reducing exposure to environmental toxins is important to overall health and well being. Interestingly enough, on my quest to be more mindful of my own toxin exposure, I learned the sad truth about the effects of single-use plastics on our environment. After all, it's one thing to do everything you can for your own health, but when you see how the choices you make can have a positive or negative impact on the health of mother earth, and therefore others, it can really influence your consumer decisions. I call this, Mindfully Green Living. It marries the health benefits of reducing personal toxin exposure, with the environmental benefits of eco-friendly practices.
Where to begin...
I started making the shift away from single-use plastic products because truth be told, it seemed like an easy change, required little effort upfront, and I'm confident it makes a big difference.
Here are just a couple of reasons why being more mindful and reducing single-use plastics should be included on your daily to-do list:
According to The Center for Biological Diversity, it takes more than 500 years for a plastic bag and closer to 700 years for a plastic bottle to degrade in a landfill. Plastics don't even break down completely. Instead, they become microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.
You cannot rely on recycling practices. Single-use-plastics frequently do not make it to a landfill or are recycled. A full 32% of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced annually is left to flow into our oceans which equates to one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute. By 2050, this could mean there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans.
How can you make a difference?
There are some SUPER EASY changes you can make that will make a dramatic difference. Here are a few of the changes we have made in our home, that you can implement today:
Switch to reusable grocery bags and produce bags. It is estimated that only 1% of the 4 trillion plastic bags used worldwide annually are returned for recycling. Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags annually. By making the switch you could personally save more than 307 bags each year.
Refuse a straw when eating out, or bring our own. Half a million straws are used worldwide each day. Imagine if we all started refusing them!
Use a stainless steel reusable water bottle. Americans buy 50 billion bottles of water each year, averaging 13 bottles of water per person, per month. By using a reusable water bottle, you could save an average of 156 plastic bottles annually. Imagine the money you could save, too!
Bring your own coffee cup. Some coffee shops even offer a discount when you bring your own! 500 billion disposable cups are used every year and don't even get me started on styrofoam. Americans alone throw away 25 billion styrofoam coffee cups every year, and it cannot be completely recycled. Not to mention, styrofoam contains the chemical styrene, which has been linked to cancer, vision and hearing loss, impaired memory and concentration, and nervous system effects.
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Keep in mind, this doesn't have to all be done overnight. A smooth transition will help reduce the overwhelm of change. In addition, as you make the switch, be sure you are recycling your items properly. Earth911.com has an excellent tool for you to find recycling centers near you. Simply enter the item you wish to recycle, along with your zip code, and it will generate a list of local centers near you! Learn more and check it out, here.
I know making the transition to a Mindfully Green Lifestyle can be overwhelming, which is why I now provide consultations and services that include:
Sustainable Living Practices- If you care about your personal toxin exposure, you HAVE to care about lifestyle practices that contribute to creating environmental toxins. Local services include assessments, along with getting you set up with a sustainability starter kit!
Pantry Parties/Grocery Store Tours- Understanding food labels, health claims, and determining if a product is safe or potentially contains toxins.
Detoxing Your Home- Find out where chemicals are lurking, and discover safer alternatives and safe methods of disposing of harmful products.
Safer Personal Care- Why its important to be mindful of what you put ON your body, ingredients to avoid, along with product recommendations.
Daily Detox- safe practices to support your natural detoxification system.
If you are interested in learning more about Mindfully Green Living and consultations, please schedule a complimentary call with me, here.
Katie Valley is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Registered Health & Nutrition Practitioner™ in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She loves to share all things wellness in her Monthly Newsletter, on Facebook and Instagram. Katie works one on one with clients seeking to make changes to their lifestyle using a holistic approach to optimal health. Check out her sessions and services here.