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Reducing Plastic: Fitness and the Environment

New outlook on taking fitness to a new level of consciousness

As an avid fitness practitioner and Personal Trainer, I am always searching for ways to make healthy connections to improve and elevate my physical and mental health. A surprising component that I had not considered was brought to my attention during a Pilates class that I was instructing. One of the participants was sharing with the class how she was consciously trying to reduce her footprint on the environment. When she started to reveal the many behavioral changes that she employed I became immediately intrigued. It made perfect sense that trying to make a cleaner environment goes hand and hand with being healthy. I mean really, what is the point of physically staying healthy if you are polluting the very environment that sustains the very life you are trying to improve? Simple right? Yes. But implementing the practice; not so much.

Getting Started on Reducing Single-Use Plastic

buying meat and fish reusable containers

I found it challenging to say the least. My consumer appetite for plastic, styrofoam and convenience was on a steroid induced frenzy. Everything I bought in the store was wrapped in plastic, plastic containers or boxed. So how to change this behavior?

The first step was organizing my plan of attack, just like
organizing my fitness schedule. So, I needed to scrounge around my house and find containers that I could keep on using to buy my food in bulk. I also needed containers to buy my meats in. It took about two days to get this part all sorted out and ready to make my first pilgrimage to my local shopping center. I also purchased reusable grocery bags, that alone reduced a considerable amount of plastic in itself. There are incentives in most stores
that will give a percentage off your grocery bill for bringing your own reusable shopping bags. Hey, who doesn’t need a little extra cash at the end of the day?

Making Small Changes in Routine

Next step was changing the places I shop. I wanted to improve my intake of naturally grown produce. Rather than buying from big-name brands that produce less nutritional quality products with higher residuals of pesticides and other chemicals that enhance growth time etc, and may have a negative impact on long term health, I started buying from our local health stores and when in season, Farmers Markets. Yes, it is a little more expensive, but if you buy in bulk you will be amazed at how much you reduce your trash accumulation. This means less trips to the dump. Which in turn means less pollution in the earth. You also save some gas, also good for the environment and again the pocketbook.

chad couto's food

I also purchased a little white ceramic compost bucket that sits on the kitchen counter. This way I make sure to compost everything that can be composted. It also saves on trips to the dump and I can use it for the vegetables that I grow. You can also bring your compost separated from your trash to the dump. The dumps now have a place just for compost if you don’t have a spot to recycle it yourself. Pretty cool indeed.

Other steps I have taken are to make sure I have a water bottle accessible at all times so I do not rely on paper or plastic cups to rehydrate. Carrying a water bottle around is also a great help in remembering to drink water throughout the day. See how I start to weave in saving the environment with my fitness needs? If you are a coffee drinker, keep a to-go mug in the car so you can fill that up when you stop at the coffee shop to avoid plastic cups and lids going to waste.

Summarizing My Journey

So, my personal journey to connect the environment with my fitness is far from perfect. Just like in my training I miss a day and so it is with my consumer practices. I will forget my coffee mug, water bottle, sometimes my shopping bags and have to revert to using plastic bags. I am human after all. Yet the takeaway for me is I have reduced my usage of plastic. I have started to choose more organic foods and most importantly I have reconnected with the environment that supports my life and yours. Awareness is the first step in understanding and beginning to make the necessary changes that are beneficial to our well-being.

Awareness is not only about one’s own journey and effect on life around them, but also those people that cannot pursue the same goals because of financial issues and time constraints. It is not easy to balance a family, work two jobs, and deal with whatever else life throws their way. I understand this issue and hopefully, our society will too and in so doing create avenues that allow people to lead healthy lives and engage in sound environmental practices.

This blog is about my journey and hopefully empowers you to see how you can improve your health by taking steps to help the environment. It is also important to remember that time and financial constraints make it difficult for some people to make these changes. Be kind and allow this to be a catalyst to create a society that makes it easier for everyone to participate in environmental action.

Bonus Thought

Just this morning I read an article in The New York Times by author Anna Schaverien about a Canadian grocery store that started to charge customers for using plastic bags for their groceries. They also put gentle shaming slogans on their plastic bags to deter people from still using the plastic bag. Great idea, right? Nope. When consumers figured it out they started buying them to collect as souvenirs. It seems to be the right idea, but I think the consumers missed the point.

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