Yes, You Can: Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

Photo: iStockphoto.com/skynesher
10 ways to detoxify your body, mind and home

Here at Green Living, we’re welcoming 2014 with a renewed commitment to living healthy and green. But let’s face it: New Year’s resolutions often turn out to be empty promises. Vague aspirations like “I’m going to eat healthier and exercise more” often don’t pan out. We’re breaking the pattern this year with 10 simple ways to improve your health and wellness. Bonus: what’s good for you is often good for the planet, too.

You can start right now. Here’s to your health!


Resolution #1 – Add a living plant to your home or workplace

Houseplants are the ultimate in functional interior design. Not only do they beautify a space, but our leafy friends also act as powerful air filters. NASA research has proven that indoor plants purify air, removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. Plus, indoor plants help create a relaxing environment. In fact, a 2008 study found that hospital patients with plants in their rooms had much lower stress levels than patients without them.

Common houseplants that improve indoor air quality

• Aloe • Spider Plant • Gerber Daisy • Snake Plant
• Golden Pothos • Chrysanthemum • Red-edged dracaena • English Ivy
• Chinese Evergreen • Bamboo Palm • Peace Lily

Resolution #2 – Detox your bathroom cupboard

According to Environmental Defence’s Just Beautiful campaign, before you even make it to the breakfast table, you’ve probably used almost 15 personal care products, with over 100 toxic ingredients—some of them linked to cancer, birth defects, infertility and many more health and environmental concerns. Audit your bathroom cupboard using David Suzuki’s Sustainable Shopper’s Guide to a Dirty Dozen Ingredients to Avoid in your Cosmetics (PDF). Keep a copy in your wallet or view the mobile guide when shopping.

Bonus: check out 15 beauty brands we love for their safe, sustainable products.


Resolution #3 – Spend 30 minutes a day outside

The average Canadian spends 90 percent of his or her time indoors. Make a ritual of being outside for at least 30 minutes a day, whether you go for a morning walk, bike to work or simply sit outdoors and appreciate the natural beauty around you. It feels good to get outside, and there’s evidence that being alfresco is a prescription for wellness: an analysis of 10 British studies found that engaging in outdoor activities improves people’s mood and self-esteem. Plus, you’ll get more of the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D, which may have protective effects against health issues such as osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer.


Resolution #4 – Join a CSA

Going to the local farmers’ market sounds like a great idea, until the weekend rolls around and you realize you have to wake up early, get there and scavenge for the best goods! Solution: join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and let them do the hard work for you. Most CSAs work in a similar fashion: you purchase “shares” in a farmer’s crop at the beginning of the season, and in return, you receive a weekly produce “subscription.” Your food is quite literally farm to table – you’ll get fresh, organic food harvested at peak flavour and quality. Plus, you’ll support your local community and the environment.

Find a CSA and sustainable food in your area at localfoodplus.ca.


Resolution #5 – Go meatless on Mondays

If going totally vegetarian or vegan is not the right resolution for you, try Meatless Mondays. “Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel,” say the folks at Meatless Monday. Sign the pledge and check out fabulous recipes from Vegetarian Times.


Resolution #6 – Start a container garden

If one of your goals for the new year is to know exactly where your food comes from and how it was grown, why not grow it yourself? An ordinary flowerpot (or two) on a windowsill, balcony or patio can provide delicious food and herbs

Bonus: gardening is a great way to de-stress. Check out Canadian Living’s 7 secrets to successful container gardening and get planting!


Resolution #7 – Try a new activity

A billion people worldwide are overweight, and 300 million are obese. Resolve to get moving! Not only are physically active people less likely to have a chronic disease, but activity improves mental and emotional health. According to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, adults aged 18 to 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. Mix it up and try a new activity – sample a yoga class at Moksha Yoga, join your local YMCA, or start belly dancing, rock climbing, horseback riding, hiking – the opportunities are endless.


Resolution #8 – Pack it to go

Make this the year you stop bad lunching habits, like frequenting vending machines, questionable cafeterias and unhealthy fast-food joints. Invest in litterless lunch gear (bonus: your wallet and the planet will thank you). You’ll find great options at well.ca, terra20 and Grassroots Environmental Products. Plan a healthy weekly menu to minimize the temptation to eat out. Check out easy, delicious on-the-go lunch ideas from Whole Foods Market.


Resolution #9 – Replace a conventional cleaner with a natural one

Household cleaners usually contain chemicals with long, unpronounceable names, many of which are known carcinogens, hormone disruptors and substances that contribute to asthma and lung inflammation. Resolve to swap at least one conventional cleaner with a non-toxic alternative – one you make yourself. Download David Suzuki’s Green Cleaning Recipes, including eco-friendly formulas for laundry soap, all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, furniture polish and stainless steel cleaners.


Resolution #10 – Set aside five minutes a day to mentally detox

Meditation is a great stress-buster. Research shows it has benefits equivalent to those of some leading medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol! And the best news is that you don’t have to spend hours a day in lotus pose to receive these benefits. Just a few minutes of stillness a day can help you heal, clear your mind and get inspired. Read more about the importance of meditation.