Being healthy and sustainable at the same time for a #greenerUofT

The Green Champions project, hosted by the It’s Greener in Here campaign of U of T St. George’s Sustainability Office challenges students and staff to take pledges to live a greener lifestyle on campus and beyond. By taking the pledge, you’re taking on a challenge to perform sustainable actions in one of 4 categories: Health, Waste, Water and Energy.

Our health is inextricably linked with our environment.  For example, living in a highly polluted area can increase the chances of developing asthma, respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular disease —yet often we have the power to contribute to the  reduction of pollution and structure our environment in a greener way, such as cycling or using public transit. Some suggested pledges in the Health category are:
  • be more active everyday
  • stop smoking or reduce cigarette consumption by 75%,
  • adopt a plant-based/vegan/vegetarian diet at least 1-4 times a week
  • purchase eco-friendly cleaning and personal care products, or make your own
CROPPED The featured Green Champions in the Health category have their own blog pages (link: where they have been documenting  their    pledge journey --  some interesting and humorous reads! Katy Francis  bravely pledged to walk from Union Station to work 3 times a week during the extremely Canadian winter (read:  freezing) we've been experiencing this year. By walking to work instead of taking the subway, Katy is reducing her carbon footprint even more while spending more time on physical activity. I really like how she documented her walk with numerous photos. It seems that her pledge not only helped her live a greener lifestyle, but it also took her on a walking adventure. Another Green Champion in the Health category is Meghan Sbrocchi  talks about the challenges of eating a vegan diet 3 times a week; for example, the temptation of non-vegan treats. A vegan diet, however, is more sustainable because a plant-based diet requires less energy, land and water resources to produce2. Adopting a plant based diet encourages consumption of more whole foods and less heavily processed foods. To support the featured Green Champions on their journeys, each category (Waste, Water, Health, Energy) has a student leader who acts as a motivator – checking in with them weekly and sending helpful tips and suggestions. During the ups and downs of Meghan’s challenge, she looks to her leader for recipes and on-campus meal ideas! Learning about the “It’s Greener in Here” initiative and reading these blogs have not only made me realize how much personal and environmental health are interrelated, but also that living greener is such a small step away.  Some of the changes related to health and sustainability that I have been inspired to make include drinking matcha green tea (powered green tea) instead of green tea from bags to reduce my carbon footprint resulting from packaging—but also, matcha has 137 times more antioxidants than a cup of green tea!3  I have also decided to adhere to an 8 hour sleep rule per night so that I can reduce my energy use (we’ll see how this goes during midterms…). By sleeping more (I’m currently getting about 5-6 hours per night), I will be using less energy through restful inactivity, and increasing my own personal energy. What are your thoughts on the link between personal and environmental health? Are you inspired to take the pledge? To find out more about “It’s Greener in Here”, go to their blog, find them on Facebook, or tweet at them @ SustainableUofT.

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