Self-Care = Earth Care

08/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What's good for our bodies is good for the planet -- and what's bad for the earth is bad for our health. The idea that caring for the earth must include attending to our own wellness is worth exploring. These are ways to take better care of yourself and the environment.

Mind Your Mind

The link between mental health and environmental degradation isn't commonly discussed, but it's when people feel unsatisfied that they're likelier to overconsume, making the planet a hapless victim. And the unprecedented rates at which Westerners are taking antidepressants and stimulants are polluting our rivers and oceans.

Natural ways to feel better include exercising, getting enough sleep, developing a strong support system, talk therapy, heading outdoors, and pursuing a hobby. If you have to take medications, be sure to properly dispose of them.

You can make dietary changes to help your health and please the planet. Eating less meat, for example, is a huge way to heal the earth (18 percent of greenhouse gases come from industrialized livestock production), as is reducing overall caloric intake.

The term "tread lightly" takes on new meaning now that there's research, written about here, here, and here, citing overeating and obesity as causes of global warming.

When buying food, cosmetics, or clothing, try to ensure that anything you'll be putting in or on your body is free of pesticides and other chemicals that pollute the planet and your innards. Choosing purer products might cost more in the short term, but in the long run you'll be saving more than dollars. Just look for the seal.

Many of us already know how devastating plastic can be for the planet, but most aren't fully aware that the synthetics can harm human health too. From heating food in plastic containers to reusing plastic bottles (and perhaps even using them the first time) to scientific concerns about BPA, there's an ocean's worth of reasons to steer clear. Instead of throwaway plastic, choose reusable glass or metal. If you do find yourself having to use plastic, do your best to recycle it.

Please comment: What are other ways to help your health and the planet?