Get Healthy for the Planet: World Environment Day 2014

By Johanna Goetzel, Shahnaz Radjy

Today, June 5, is World Environment Day, an opportunity to connect the environment with health for a holistic approach to a more sustainable future for individuals, communities, and the planet.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched four celebrity-endorsed challenges (see image below) on this occasion, which we think connect beautifully to health goals, demonstrating once again the win-win opportunity of tackling health and environment related problems in collaboration.

To participate, you can:

  • Go Greener: come together as communities, supporting businesses that are committed to sustainability such as B-Corporations, who care about their environmental impact and the well-being of their workforce in addition to the bottom line
  • Purge Plastics: trade plastic bottles for water bottles with a filter, so you can be healthy and drink tap water (almost) anytime and anywhere
  • Power Down: walk or ride your bike to work to be more carbon friendly (the European Cyclist’s Federation ECF has calculated and compared the carbon dioxide emissions of cycling, driving a car, or taking the bus) and get your daily physical activity fix.
  • Reduce your Foodprint: reducing food waste can reduce land and water resources used unnecessarily for production, and doing so by favoring low-carbon options along with reducing portion size can help address the global obesity epidemic, too

There are a number of resources available to help make these changes, whether you want to endorse one of the above challenges, are a student (check out Harvard’s Planet Health Curriculum), or are part of your country’s government (read about the Milan Protocol).

In case that was not enough to convince you, did you know that it has been shown that improvements to the environment, even in small measure, have an exponential impact on health?

Stay tuned for more about health and environmental linkages – we’re just getting started.


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