Life

Simple steps to help the environment and boost your health in the process

Plastic is clogging up our oceans – do your bit by reducing plastic bottle use

:: Ditch plastic bottles

The average single-use bottle can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, while there are 245,000 metric tons of plastic floating on the surface of our oceans. As well as being damaging to marine life, studies suggest these grab-and-go options may not be great for your health. "Substances called xenoestrogens found in plastics can mimic the hormone oestrogen and have been linked to reproductive problems and other serious health complications," says Healthista editor, Anna Magee.

:: Reduce your dairy intake

"The water footprint for animal agriculture is massive, and this is especially true for cows and dairy farms. Large quantities of water are used to keep the cows hydrated, but also wash down the parlour floors and flush out manure," says Sasha Sabapathy, founder of Glow Bar (glowbarldn.com). Going dairy-free can could mean rewards in the skin department too, since cow's milk can sometimes contain growth hormones, fats and sugars which can aggravate skin.

:: Invest in a travel mug

Only one in 400 coffee cups are recycled in the UK, and many can't be due to their inner plastic coating (designed to stop the liquid making the cardboard soggy). "Coffee cups are a huge waste material, so investing in a travel cup to take with you is one of the most valuable things you can do for the environment," says Rathnayake. They're available at most supermarkets and can be picked up for as little as £5.

:: Plan meals and shop locally

Buying out-of-season produce that have been flown halfway round the world, or wrapped in layers of plastic, hugely contributes to environmental problems. Shopping at locally-owned businesses puts money back into the local economy, means you're paying for less plastic and - as a bonus - your food is likely to contain less chemical pesticides. "Devise a meal plan in advance, wherever possible make extra batches and freeze for the following week," says BBC Radio 2 presenter and natural health blogger, Janey Lee Grace.

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