Written by Steve Nicholson, Director of Sustainability, Solaris Paper
There are two crises in Australia that have potentially deadly consequences. First, Australia is one of the most obese nations in the world. The 2017-18 Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey showed that two-thirds of Australian adults were overweight or obese. Secondly, Australia has a sustainability issue that is leading to the destruction of natural environments. Australians generated 67 million tonnes of waste in 2016-17, according to the National Waste Report 2018. For a nation of 24 million people, that’s just under 3 million tonnes of waste per person, per year. While about half of this is recycled, the remainder ends up in landfills or scattered across the landscape, on beaches or in the water.
It’s possible that Australians can work towards solving both issues at a household level, by incorporating methods of exercise that have a beneficial impact on the environment. Simple tasks that can easily be adopted such as picking up rubbish in public areas, being less reliant on personal vehicles and doing your share to make a healthier environment will all have a holistic impact on fitness and wellbeing for both people and the planet.
Clean Up The Beach
Australia has some of the most renowned beaches in the world. However, they are often littered with plastic bottles, single-use plastic bags and other rubbish often affecting wildlife and marine animals. Next time you are looking to get the family out for some exercise, consider taking the family on a walk along the beach, bring a reusable grocery bag and pick up any rubbish for the stretch of the beach you stroll down. Not only will this leave Australia’s beaches looking clean and prevent wildlife and sea life from being impacted by plastic waste, but it will also provide a good workout for many muscles. Walking and bending over activates more muscles than simply going for a walk, as it also involves the arms, back and core muscles. Join in on community days like Clean Up Australia Day to support the local community and other environmentalists or have a go at doing it alone.
Leave The Car At Home
There are more cars on the road than ever before, all emitting tonnes of carbon emissions which pollute the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Where possible, choose to walk or ride a pushbike. Both options will increase your cardiovascular health, while also decreasing the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere from vehicles. When further distance has to be covered, consider public transport, which causes less pollution per capita than one person in a car.
Until electricity becomes cleaner and electric cars become more popular, walking or riding a pushbike will always be better for the environment, while also keeping you moving.
Use Rubbish To Your Advantage
Eliminating single-use plastic items are a big focus for waste reduction practices. Supermarkets across Australia have already begun banning single-use plastic bags, and many states have implemented, or are discussing the implementation of bans on other single-use plastics. In the home, families can turn certain items into exercise equipment. Fill used bottles with sand or coins to create different sized weights for strength training or fill an old backpack with water bottles and jog around the block to train strength and endurance. Not only will this create a need for items that would otherwise end up in a landfill, but it also saves money on a gym membership or equipment.
Giving Back Through A Garden
Australians can also have a greener impact within the community and around the home while getting some exercise in by taking up gardening. Not only does getting outside and planting a vegetable patch hard work, but it needs upkeep, meaning it’s something that will take energy to upkeep every week. In addition to the regular exercise, the addition of trees and plants helps combat the rising carbon emissions, giving back clean oxygen. Getting your hands dirty in the garden can also have an impact on food wastage, rather than buying from a grocery store, grow certain vegetables and only pick what you need for dinner that night. Not only will you guarantee that you are eating fresh produce, but you can also ensure your produce is pesticide and herbicide-free, meaning even healthier than what you find at the local supermarket.
Wellness Is Holistic
A healthy environment contributes to a healthy lifestyle just as much as an individual’s lifestyle has an impact on an individuals environment. By adopting habits and activities which promote a healthy lifestyle but also lead to a cleaner society, Australians can tackle two big issues facing Australia in one go. If everyone in Australia adopted one of the above habits, the country would be in a substantially better place.
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