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Small Tweaks to Effortlessly Help the Environment

Being environmentally conscious doesn’t stop at recycling your glass or bringing reusable bags to the grocery store. Small changes to your daily routine that require little effort on your part can have a big impact on the environment. In honor of Earth Day, here are 15 ways to make your healthy lifestyle more eco-friendly.

Go Easy on the Red
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Animal rights and health concerns take the cake when it comes to why people forgo meat, but a number of vegetarians pass for the devastation it causes to our land and ozone. Red meat requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken and 11 times more water—which results in five times more climate-warming emissions. And, compared to vegetables and grains, beef requires 160 times more land per calorie to make, and produces 11 times more greenhouse gases. Going vegetarian is the most eco-friendly option, but even just skipping meat for one meal can help.

Digitize Your Grocery List
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There are few things we put to pen and paper any more, but old school grocery lists still hold strong. Take your meal prep digital with list apps like Grocery IQ or Out of Milk (both free for iOS and Android) and even track your entire meal plan for the week with an app like Pepperplate (free; iOS and Android). You'll never worry about losing your list and be green in the process.

Learn to Love Leftovers
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We all know prepping all your food on Sunday can keep you healthy the whole week. But cooking a week’s worth of chicken at once also saves energy compared to turning on the stove every night. Plus, using all your ingredients early on ensures you won’t waste as much expired or spoiled food. Be extra resourceful with these 10 Tasty Ways to Use Food Scraps.

Ditch the Produce Packaging
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You grab two apples and place them in your cart anyway, so you don’t really need that plastic produce bag protecting them (just wash them before you slice and eat). Skip the plastic-encased spinach and kale, too, and opt for the fresh produce (which is normally a little cheaper too!).

Hit the Bike Lanes
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Pedaling your way to the office will not only kill to birds—cardio and transportation—with one stone, it’ll go toward reducing pollution in your city. Great news since Air Pollution Has Been Linked to Anxiety.

Rethink Your Coffee
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A morning cup of joe has a whole slew of health benefits, but if you fuel up every day from the corner coffee shop, that’s a whole lot of paper cups landing in the trash by the year's end. Ideally—for both your wallet and the environment—you’d make coffee at home and bring it to work in a travel mug. But if time gets the best of you, still grab your reusable thermos on the way out and hand it to the barista when you order your morning drip (some coffee shops will give you discounts for bringing your own mug). Already left the house? At least ditch the coffee stirrer.

Unplug Unused Electronics
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Phone chargers, blow dryers, blenders—our world is dominated by gadgets, but leaving these things plugged in when they’re not in use can suck up energy (called phantom or vampire power). According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the average home contains 40 products constantly drawing power. Save some money (and the earth) by unplugging anything from the wall as soon as you’re done with it. It may not seem like much, but even small amounts of phantom power add up.

Buy Used Fitness Equipment
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Whether you’re furnishing a home gym or just looking for an exercise ball to sit on at work, buying your workout equipment used means no resources are being eaten up to make another. The exception: running shoes, which are worth buying brand new to support your joints and muscles.

Switch to a Reusable Water Bottle
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Plastic bottles are convenient, but using a sustainable one during your workout and throughout the day can help eliminate waste and keep you healthy. For starters, people who buy a reusable bottle typically use and toss 107 fewer disposable plastic water bottles in the first year alone, according to a new report from Polar Bottle. As for your health, BPA, as well as its equally-evil brothers, BPF and BPS, all leech chemicals that can wreak havoc on your body—and waistline! (Are Chemicals Making You Fat?) Opt for a stainless steel, aluminum, bamboo, or glass variety, like Klean Kanteen Sports Bottle ($17; kleankanteen.com) or S’well bottles ($45; swellbottle.com). And if you have to buy a plastic one (sometimes there’s no getting around it), opt for one of these Eco-Friendly Bottled Water for Women on the Go.

Buy Green Gear
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The world of hippie materials has come a long way, and a ton of our favorite fitness companies are now making clothing and accessories with sustainable materials like organic cotton, hemp, and eco-gauze. Next time your running outfit needs an upgrade, check out Sustainable Fitness Gear for an Eco-Friendly Workout.

Go Natural!
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The beauty industry is notorious for greenwashing—or claiming a product is natural even if it just contains a few botanical ingredients. Avoiding synthetic fillers, petro chemicals, and artificial dyes not only supports more sustainable manufacturing practices but also protects your skin. And you don’t have to sacrifice quality—try 7 Natural Beauty Products That Actually Work.

Skip the Post-Workout Shampoo
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One of the biggest ways to give back to the environment is to cut back on your shower time. In fact, Jennifer Aniston has said she keeps her showers to under three minutes to conserve. Since we wouldn’t ask you to stay sweaty (and stinky) after a workout, try and keep your shower to the essentials. That means skipping the hair and becoming friends with your dry shampoo, as well as these other 15 Ways to Sweat-Proof Your Beauty Routine.

Pass on the Towel
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In some classes, like spin or hot yoga, you really are dripping sweat—too much for anything other than a towel to soak up. But if you’re just lifting weights or jogging on the treadmill, you probably don’t need that towel. After all, every cloth you use has to be washed, which means unnecessary water and energy, and wiping your forehead on your shirt or using the Lysol wipes before and after you lay on the weight bench will probably suffice.

Be a Smart Washer
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You shell out a little more dough for the fancier fabrics, so you need to protect them in the wash. Luckily, many of the rules of washing are also eco-friendly, including washing workout clothes on cold (which reduces the energy required to boil water); not using too much detergent (which makes the product to last longer, reducing waste in the long run); and skipping the fabric softener (which is made from harmful chemicals). For the complete step-by-step, find out The Right Way to Wash Your Workout Clothes.

Make Your Own Smoothies
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It’s tempting to grab a protein shake from the juice bar at your gym or refuel with a store-bought smoothie, but making your own post-workout snack—and carrying it in a reusable bottle—is both wallet- and eco-friendly. Try our Green Vanilla Almond Post-Workout Shake or Post-Workout Peanut Butter Booster Smoothie.

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