Everybody wants to save a couple of bucks. But far too frequently, we attempt to do so by cutting corners when it comes to our own health. We eat ramen as a meal. Slumped over a pile of work, we might forget how adversely the grind impacts our bodies. Even if you’re a weekend warrior, you might still compromise on your diet, posture, or exercise habits. Perhaps worse than the individual impact, amid the hustle of a time-equals-money society, we tend to look past simple, but nevertheless important, measures for cutting down waste and pollution, issues that affect everyone. In the interest of a healthy wallet, body, and planet, here are seven tips for living healthy on the cheap (and saving the earth at the same time):
1. Buy Ugly Produce:
Due to its quick expiration, fresh produce is often one of the more costly components of our grocery budgets… but we can’t afford to forget that it’s also the cornerstone of a healthy diet. Luckily, keeping your kitchen stocked with fruit and veggies is no longer as expensive as it used to be. “Ugly” fruits and vegetables – superficially abnormal, and therefore excluded from supermarket aisles — are offered at discounted rates by a variety of American companies like Imperfect Produce (serving the West Coast) and Hungry Harvest (serving the East Coast). Delivered directly to your door, these services are a simple, cost-effective, customizable and environmentally-friendly way to keep your eating – and your conscience – squeaky clean.
2. Work Out at Home:
Group workout franchises have been wildly successful in recent years. Whether it’s CrossFit, yoga, pilates or some cutting-edge “strippercise” class, young people seem willing to fork over big money to stay in shape, and prefer the motivation and camaraderie of working out alongside peers. It’s nothing new – Richard Simmons made his money from a wave of busy people who wanted to bring this experience home. No gas money, no class fee, just the one-time purchase of a tape that could be used over and over. This sort of thing still exists, but the internet is a marvelous advent: with seemingly endless online fitness programs available for free, you’ll never have to repeat a workout again. (Note: It’s especially important to pay attention to form in the absence of a professional instructor’s corrective guidance.)
3. Limit Driving:
Whether you’re skating, biking or walking, minimizing car use has a number of benefits. In addition to saving you gas money and reducing emissions, alternative forms of transit help you avoid unnecessary time spent sitting. Between driving and work, the frequency with which we’re forced to occupy seated positions has allowed the proliferation of countless health issues, from lower back pain to carpal tunnel. Not only can such injuries prevent us from working effectively; they are capable of sidelining us from the activities we live for.
4. Keep a Few Reusable Water Bottles in Rotation:
I know, I know. It’s still technically more plastic than necessary. If one were to diligently wash their reusable water bottle, they wouldn’t need extras. I’m aware. But I’m also aware that life happens, that hardly anyone washes their water bottle so frequently, and that it sucks to get caught without one when you need it. In those scenarios, we tend to bite the bullet, buying yet another overpriced disposable water bottle and tacitly contributing to the massive pile of plastic waste enveloping our lands and oceans. Best to avoid it when we can. When you keep your water bottles in rotation, you’ll always have a clean one.
5. Cut down on Meat:
I’m no vegan, but reducing meat consumption does offer clear benefits. A plant-based diet is heart-healthy, nutritious, and in comparison with a carnivorous diet requires substantially less water and energy to maintain. On the flip side, Americans love their meat. Wholesale conversion of the entire population to veganism or vegetarianism strikes me as unrealistic in this day and age. But you don’t have to make it a lifestyle to recognize that our current rate of meat consumption is wildly unsustainable. Mindful consumption, when adopted by a critical mass, is capable of making a huge difference. Small, reasonable changes to your diet can reduce your weekly grocery bill (meat ain’t cheap), methane in the atmosphere, and potential long-term health risks.
6. Keep Track of Your Purchases with Mint:
Mint helps you organize expenditures. If you’re twenty or thirty-something, you might notice that a disproportionate amount of your paycheck goes towards expensive, less-than-healthy pastimes (read: bars). Furthermore, Mint’s parent company, Intuit, recently achieved carbon neutrality. One of the most important things we can do as consumers is to support corporate responsibility. Now more than ever, where we put our money matters.
7. Make the Outdoors Your Playground.
Spare the entry fee of purchasing equipment, it costs next to nothing to get yourself outdoors. And beyond personal fulfillment, our favorite activities — surfing, biking, climbing, skiing and running, just to name a few — are great for cardiovascular health. Outdoor exercise also benefits mental health, with increased vitamin D absorption that combats seasonal affective disorder. Finally, and most importantly, passion can serve as a springboard for conservational efforts. There’s a reason why people who love the outdoors are often those most involved in environmental preservation: the more we engage a place, the more stake we have in protecting its future.