World Health Day is celebrated each year as a day to work toward healthier societies. For 2022, the theme of World Health Day is “Our Planet, Our Health.” Clean air, water, and food, the WHO reminds us, are essential for our health — and better for the environment, too.
Climate change is increasing the number and severity of natural disasters such as wildfires, drought, flooding, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Air and water pollution are affecting the health of people all over the world. Our choices in food and in our daily lives can help improve the environment. These are just some of the ways that the natural environment and human health are connected.
Here are some things you can do to make a difference!
Tobacco use is the #1 preventable cause of death and disease in America. It’s also bad for the environment. Second had smoke is a dangerous form of air pollution, and cigarettes produce toxic litter as well. This litter releases nicotine, pesticide residues and metal into water.
Clean eating, clean planet
New research suggests eating fewer highly processed foods, less red meat and dairy, and more plant foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes is good for our health and also good for our planet.
Making small changes can add up to big improvements in sustainability.
Choosing to walk, bike, or take public transportation just once a week can reduce your carbon footprint and increase your steps. Driving uses twice as much in resources as taking the bus, and ten times as much as cycling or walking.
People who ride bikes to work take fewer sick days than those who drive, and traveling under your own power gives you all the benefits of physical exercise.
Save energy at home
Being energy efficient at home reduces air pollution. Air pollution worsens asthma, contributes to lung disease, and even heart disease.McKinsey researchers estimate that the United States could cut carbon emissions by more than one billion tons each year.
Cut down on plastic
Reduce your use of plastic to cut down on pollution — and on your exposure to potentially toxic chemicals. The effects of plastics on human health are not fully understood at this point, but researchers have concerns. Some types of plastic have already been linked with health issues, there is some evidence of migration of chemicals from plastic packaging into food, and micro plastic particles are turning up in our air and water.
More research is needed, but cutting back on plastic use is a good idea.
World Health Day is a great day to make one or more small changes for your health and the health of our planet.