2020 Natural Health Trend: Environmental Sustainability
Michelle W. Book
Natural health has come a long way over the last several decades, and as more people are becoming conscious about what they put in their bodies, they’re also becoming more aware of what they are putting into the environment.
Sustainable living is rapidly emerging as a mainstream movement with climate change, waste reduction and minimizing consumption at the forefront. These concerns are influencing the consumer mindset, generating demand from Canadians for products that are environmentally sustainable – and we’re seeing many companies respond to this demand in innovative ways.
What Are the Benefits of Environmental Sustainability?
A sustainable mindset steers manufacturing, consumption and purchasing practices towards products that are gentler on the planet. This trend benefits everyone, with:
Less Damage to Ecosystems
Companies utilizing sustainable practices are conscious of their impacts on our environment. Renewable, natural materials and reduced packaging result in fewer resources consumed to manufacture and ship products – and less waste.
Healthier Food Systems
Environmentally sustainable approaches in agriculture provide healthy food and support biodiversity with less use of chemical inputs. Buying food from ecologically minded producers, local farmers and choosing organic not only respects mother earth – but you also reduce consumption of synthetic chemicals, hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified organisms (GMOs.)
Fewer Toxins in the Home and Environment
Choosing environmentally conscious products that are made with natural ingredients is healthier for everyone. Green housekeeping practices create a cleaner, safer home for the whole family, with less chance of environmental damage from products which may contain harsh irritants – to both our body and ecosystems.
Building an Environmentally Sustainable Lifestyle
Look for Products that Reduce Waste
The #zerowaste movement can sound daunting, but what it focuses on is reducing single-use products, packaging and disposable items. Minimal, compostable and recyclable packaging are all becoming more commonplace and are often selling features for brands that align themselves with sustainable values. Choose items with little, or no packaging (whole produce vs. packaged fruits and vegetables, bulk grains, etc.).
Companies are also innovating by utilizing goods that would otherwise go to waste. Canadians can now find dog treats, juices and soaps made in part from less than perfect fruits and vegetables that would otherwise end up in landfills. This approach uses part of the estimated 58 per cent of food that is thrown out each year in Canada.
Learn the Label Lingo
Beware of greenwashing – some terms like “natural” and “botanical” can be used freely on labels to push products that aren’t necessarily the best environmental choice. Certain label claims and certifications can attest to the true environmental integrity of a product. You can learn how to look for “clean” labels and navigate sustainable shopping with our Ultimate Natural Living Shopping Guide.
Choose Reusable and/or Biodegradable Products
There is less need to “use and toss” where paper towel, cosmetic pads, feminine hygiene products and flimsy plastic shopping bags can all be replaced with quality reusable versions. Where reusable isn’t an option – recyclable or compostable/biodegradable products are good options. Some examples include wood and natural fibre cleaning brushes that can be composted when they are worn out, or bandages made with sustainable bamboo fibre that is 100% compostable.
Make a Zero Waste “Kit”
Assemble cloth shopping bags, water bottles, reusable coffee cups, and cloth napkins in your car or purse to avoid single-use disposable versions. Pack snacks in reusable containers to avoid packaged convenience food and order from restaurants that use biodegradable packaging or bring your own containers to bring take-out orders home in.
Care for Your Body and Home Naturally
From the laundry basket to the air quality of the home, natural products with earth-friendly ingredients can be found for every household need. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also DIY some simple formulas with some natural ingredients.
Whether you carpool or switch to energy-efficient lightbulbs, every sustainable action contributes to the planet’s greater good. Choosing environmentally conscious products and brands is essentially “voting with your dollar” in continuing to influence companies to make responsible decisions. Visit your local your local CHFA Member health food store for guidance and a wide selection of products to make your home – and the planet – a healthier place to live.
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