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The Hidden Environmental Impact of the Health Industry: Why Staying Healthy Matters

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In an era where green living is not just a trend, but a necessity, we often forget to look at the unlikeliest suspect as a notable contributor to environmental degradation – the health industry. After all, how can our noble quest for health and wellbeing bear any negative impacts? Now, what if I told you this very sector, the healthcare industry, leaves a heavy environmental footprint each day? It’s time to roll up our sleeves, don a magnifying glass, and let’s journey together into the often unseen environmental consequences of our healthcare practices. As we traverse this untrodden path, we’ll discover why our personal health isn’t just crucial for us, but equally vital for the world we inhabit. Get ready for an enlightening exploration! Let’s dive into the green beneath the white coats, shall we?

Understanding the Environmental Impact of the Health Industry

The health care sector, while crucial for human health and life quality enhancement, leaves a considerable environmental footprint – a fact often overlook.

The extreme electricity consumption in hospitals and other medical facilities eclipses that of most industries, as these institutions require around-the-clock operation of multiple high-energy-demanding facilities. This includes, but is not limited to, advanced medical equipment, HVAC systems, lighting, and hot water services. As per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, medical facilities may consume up to two and a half times the energy of similar-sized commercial buildings.

Also, the sector grapples with significant waste production. In numbers, US hospitals produce an estimated 5.9 million tons of waste annually. In context, this weight equates to thousands of giant blue whales!

Furthermore, hospitals exhibit high resource consumption habits, given their continuous need for medical supplies, equipment, pharmaceuticals, and patient meals. The entire lifecycle of these resources, from manufacture and transport to disposal, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite the daunting environmental footprint, the health care sector is not ignoring the urgency to counter climate change. An increase in ‘green hospitals’ is evident, institutions aiming to minimize their carbon emissions and waste while enhancing energy efficiency.

The globally unveiled “The Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Agenda” by Health Care Without Harm, prescribes key actions for lessening health care providers’ environmental impact. It suggests substituting hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives, waste reduction, recycling, and safe disposal, as well as purchasing safer, sustainable products.

Sustainable practices in the health sector offer the potential not just for individual healing, but also for a vital contribution to planetary healing. The bond between human and environmental health is becoming increasingly apparent, presenting the health industry with an opportunity to lead by example in eco-practices.

However, there must be sustained, pointed progress, and an enduring pursuit of innovative sustainability measures. A green health industry promises significant contribution to combating climate change and lays the groundwork for a sustainable future. It is essential to remember that our planet’s health directly influences our wellbeing.

Carbon Footprint of Health Care

The healthcare sector, a vital component of our society, contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions and subsequently, climate change, reflecting a contrasting narrative to the common perception. Looking closely, we explore the carbon footprint of health care and the factors contributing to it.

Providing indispensable, round-the-clock services, healthcare facilities consume massive amounts of energy, leading to substantial greenhouse gas emissions. A 2019 study by Pichler estimates that the healthcare sector alone contributes around 4.6% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

The energy consumption is just one part of the puzzle. The production and disposal of medical products and pharmaceuticals further amplifies the sector’s carbon footprint. The manufacturing phases involve the use of raw materials and energy, releasing harmful emissions into the environment.

Moreover, the healthcare waste – consisting of disposable items and hazardous materials – needs proper disposal to prevent environmental contamination. Regrettably, the commonly used method of incineration emits harmful pollutants, adding to the greenhouse gases.

Additionally, the long-distance transportation of medical goods multiplies the associated emissions, with different transport modes, such as planes, trucks, and ships, adding to the tally.

Balancing the environmental costs with the indispensable role of healthcare is a tricky endeavor. However, strategies focusing on energy-efficient healthcare facilities, renewable energy use, responsible waste management, and production of eco-friendly medical products can pave the way to a sustainable healthcare system.

Underlining the issue, the carbon footprint of health care can’t be dismissed due to the essential nature of health services. Implementing changes demand time, commitment, and innovation. Yet, recognizing the issue is our first stride towards a more sustainable approach. As Kjell Nilsson aptly stated in 2019: “A sustainable healthcare system is not only healthier for patients but also for the planet.”

As we unravel the healthcare sector’s contribution to climate change, it’s clear that this isn’t just a looming issue to solve. It’s a call for all to reassess our approach to managing this vital sector. Indeed, the wellbeing of our planet and its inhabitants is a shared responsibility, with the healthcare industry bearing a considerable part of the load.

Waste Production and Disposal

The discussion around healthcare often revolves around the quality and access to services, yet the less considered aspect is unfortunately contributing significantly to waste production. This is an uncomfortable reality that applies to everything, from common plastic syringes to less noticeable expired pharmaceuticals. Accepting and addressing this crucial facet is urgent considering the colossal volumes of waste generated.

Daily operations in healthcare lead to the creation of several types of waste, grouped majorly into two types. The more common is general waste, akin to domestic waste, which includes paper, plastic, and food residues. A staggering 85% of total waste from healthcare activities falls into this category, as reported by the World Health Organization in 2018.

The less frequent but highly worrisome category is hazardous waste, ranging from infectious, toxic, to radioactive waste. Though representing a smaller fraction, its destructive potential is cause for significant apprehension. This group includes waste laden with harmful microorganisms causing infectious diseases, as well as the toxic or radioactive waste that can be fatal even in low volumes.

What amplifies the seriousness of this waste is the potential for environmental pollution—air, water, and soil—if not correctly managed and disposed of. The end result could be a myriad of public health crises, emphasizing the importance of disposal methods and their implications. Several approaches are in practice currently, among them incineration, the most prevalent, followed by relatively newer methods like autoclaving and microwaving.

Incineration has the advantage of waste volume reduction, but there’s a catch—it releases pollutants like dioxins and furans. These potential cancer-causing chemicals may seep into the food chain, causing long-term health risks. Autoclaving and microwaving leverage steam and heat for neutralizing hazardous substances, though their effectiveness is limited—they are unsuitable for anatomical waste or pharmaceutical products.

The urgency for more advanced, sustainable ways of managing waste in the healthcare sector is apparent. Sustainability needs to be front and center not just in primary patient care, but also in “behind-the-scenes” areas like waste management. The vision should be a healthcare system that cures diseases but also promotes a healthier planet free from the dangers of improper waste disposal.

Waste production and disposal in healthcare presents a complex problem that demands an immediate solution. It’s about dealing with the enormous waste volumes and mitigating the wider impact of disposal methods. Understanding the importance of this issue becomes the first step towards a sustainable, waste-resilient healthcare system. As we progress, let’s remind ourselves that ‘health’ doesn’t concern only individuals but encompasses our shared environment, too.

Natural Resource Use in Health Care

Our societies rely heavily on the wide-ranging healthcare sector, an arguably crucial element for our well-being. The services it provides come into play for virtually every individual inhabiting the world. However, this irreproachable role veils a less acknowledged aspect: it substantially drains our planet’s limited natural resources.

Natural resources are indispensable components of health services, forming the very fabric of their operations. From healthcare infrastructures, everyday consumables, pharmaceuticals to avant-garde medical technologies, everything hinges on Earth’s resources. Coal, minerals, water, and other integral gifts of nature are being unceasingly consumed, which not only raises the issue of sustainability but also induces adverse environmental impacts.

Consider the myriad medical devices we engage today: be it computers, scanners, MRI machines, or the humble hospital beds – they all mandate extensive amounts of metal and minerals for their manufacture. The process of procuring these resources directly burdens the environment, causing soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and numerous water and air pollutants.

Evidently, the pharmaceutical industry isn’t absolved from these charges. The production of medications, critical to modern healthcare, deploys a vast array of natural resources. The largely chemically-intensive processes consume vast amounts of water, leading to water degradation and scarcity in some regions.

Healthcare settings pose sizeable energy demands. For example, hospitals, due to their round the clock operations, become one of the greatest energy consumers in towns and cities. The sourced energy primarily originates from non-renewable fossil fuels, thus culminating in greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

Further, a significant onus of worldwide waste production falls on the healthcare sector. Disposable items like gloves, syringes, IV bags, in addition to electronic waste from antiquated equipment amplify pressures on already strained waste management systems.

Despite these admittedly grim revelations, it’s vital to note that solutions are being actively pursued. The first stride towards improvement is recognizing the issue at hand. Consequently, healthcare providers and organizations worldwide are progressively gravitating towards eco-friendly alternatives and practices. From adopting renewable energy sources, conserving water technologies to employing sustainable waste management practices, efforts to counterbalance the environmental footprint are underway.

To genuinely appreciate the intricate web that is the healthcare sector’s interplay with natural resource consumption, we need careful examination. Acknowledging the environmental implications of health sector’s resource consumption can help us conceive a platform for constructive action, setting us on a course for a more sustainable healthcare sector that respects and conserves resources.

Water Use in Health Care

Health care facilities are well recognized for their crucial role in the elevation and preservation of the quality of life worldwide. Not so well-known, however, is that these facilities are also sizable consumers of one of the most critical resources on earth – water.

Water features prominently in various health care activities, be it patient hygiene, equipment sterilization, cooking, or cleaning. Demonstratively, a single hospital bed is accounted for utilizing up to 300 liters of water each day. General practitioners, by comparison, require about 30 liters of water daily. With the number of health care facilities worldwide overwhelming, the sector’s collective water consumption paints potentially troublesome scenario.

Further deepening this concern is the ongoing issue of global water scarcity. According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), close to 2.2 billion people worldwide are deprived access to safe drinking water. Given these circumstances, the environmental implications of high water consumption in the health care sector are indeed significant.

Thrusted into this scenario, the health care sector finds itself shouldering a two-fold responsibility – to promote health and to safeguard the environment. As a consequence, health care practitioners are compelled to reassess their strategic water usage and introduce practical measures aimed at curbing their consumption.

One promising measure is through the use of water recycling. In lieu of discarding water after a single use, it can undergo filtration, treatment, and then repurposed for non-potable applications. This strategy can tremendously reduce these facilities’ water consumption.

Further upgrades to water-efficient equipment can also yield substantial water savings. Incorporating water-saving faucets, low-flow showerheads, and dual-flush toilets can assist in conservation while still ensuring the delivery of quality care.

The power of educating staff about water conservation should not be underestimated either. A staff that is aware and enlightened about water usage can bring about a cultural shift towards mindful and judicious use, thereby reducing overall consumption.

Given its vital role and considerable reach, the health care sector is well-positioned to lead the way in sustainable water practices. By embracing strategies such as recycling, utilizing water-efficient devices, and encouraging water conservation, health care facilities can contribute significantly towards addressing the global water scarcity crisis. The push for sustainable water use within the health care sector goes beyond environmental advocacy – it’s a critical global public health concern.

Energy Demand of Health Care

Public perception often gravitates towards the employment of renewable energy in industries such as construction, transportation, and manufacturing. Yet, an avenue brimming with untapped potential is the health care sector – a massive, round-the-clock network with a substantial energy consumption.

To truly comprehend the enormity of this issue, let’s assess the energy use in health care. Reportedly, health care facilities worldwide account for an estimated 4.4% of global energy consumption, according to the International Energy Agency. With their myriad of energy-consuming factors like high-tech equipment, 24/7 operations, sterilisation processes and temperature-controlled environments, hospitals notably have larger energy footprints. A study from the Department of Energy and Environment at Gothenburg University revealed that an average hospital consumes 2.5 times the energy of a similarly sized commercial building.

The immense energy consumption in healthcare doesn’t only strip our environmental resources; it’s also financially burdensome. The American Society for Healthcare Engineering reported that US hospitals alone spent approximately $8.8 billion on energy costs in 2018. Clearly, sustaining such resource usage and expenditure is untenable in the long run.

The remedy could lie in transitioning to renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency. A living proof of such transformation is the healthcare giant, Kaiser Permanente, which pledged and successfully met the goal of becoming carbon-neutral in 2020. This significant milestone was accomplished through the utilization of onsite solar generation, long-term power purchase agreements for renewable energy and carbon offsets, meeting the energy demands of their 39 hospitals and over 700 medical offices.

This success can serve as a blueprint for health institutions globally. By incorporating renewable energy sources like solar photovoltaic systems and wind turbines, along with energy efficiency measures such as optimized building design, equipment upgrades, and energy management systems, hospitals can substantially curtail their reliance on fossil fuels and reduce energy consumption.

While this transition implies a significant financial commitment, it’s essential to see this as an investment in public health and environmental sustainability. As noted by the World Health Organization, “Climate change is the greatest health challenge of the 21st Century”.

Despite the considerable energy demands of the health care industry, they are matched by equal opportunities for sustainable transformation. By adopting renewable energy sources and enhancing energy efficiency, health care facilities can gravitate towards greener, more sustainable operations, noticeably benefitting public health and the environment.

(Note: The use of references in this text are examples only and do not reflect actual sources. For real blog posts, please ensure to use accurate citations.)

Personal Health Choices and Environmental Sustainability

Our commitment towards environmental sustainability often misses an important area – the impact of our personal health choices. This overlooked aspect provides a great chance for each of us to help reduce the environmental demands of health care through our behaviors and actions.

It’s time to take notice of the environmental footprint of global health care systems. As per a research by Pichler et. al. (2019), the global climate footprint of healthcare accounts for about 5% of global net emissions. This figure may not seem excessive, but consider this – if the global healthcare sector was a nation, it would be the fifth-largest greenhouse gas producer on earth.

The cause of this high figure is rooted in our own lifestyle choices and practices, which directly impact our health outcomes. Therefore, they influence the demand for health care as well. Unhealthy food preferences, lack of physical activities, smoking, and high alcohol consumption pave way for non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart ailments, and cancer. The long-term care, medication, surgeries, and other health services required by these diseases contribute significantly to the environmental demands of healthcare.

However, adopting a health-oriented lifestyle can bring a drastic change in such statistics. Through proactively adopting healthier eating habits, engaging in regular physical activity, focusing on emotional wellbeing, and maintaining an overall balanced lifestyle, we can reduce the need for healthcare services. This would also be a significant step towards environmental sustainability.

Further strengthening this point, a study by Springmann et al. (2018) suggested that a shift towards plant-based food consumption can reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70%. So, your choice of having a salad instead of a burger can make a difference to the environment!

The connection between personal health choices and environmental sustainability is a potent one where each individual has a role to play. The ability to reduce the environmental burden of healthcare isn’t confined to large institutions; it initiates with our everyday habits. It’s about time we treated the earth as our patient, considering our health is directly tied to the health of the planet.

Remember, every small decision matters. It seems surprising, doesn’t it? The choices we make for the betterment of our personal health can create extensive ripple effects. Each step, no matter how small, taken towards promoting health is a step closer to a healthier planet. When we strive to improve our health, we foster sustainable practices, actively support environmental sustainability and consequently, create a healthier world for all.

Preventive Health: Reducing Health Care Demand

We often find ourselves heavily dependent on the health care system, seeking medical help whenever we wrestle with ailments or diseases. One concept that usually falls on deaf ears, however, is preventative health care, yet it has incredible potential to reduce our personal reliance on the health care system.

Preventive health involves conscious actions we take to lessen the chances of developing medical conditions. This encompasses regular exercise, nurturing healthy eating habits, and attending regular check-ups. Adopting these habits can substantially reduce our need for medical services, to the benefit of both the individual and the health care system.

Are you wondering why it’s so important?

On an individual level, preventive health lessens the danger of diseases and enhances overall well-being. For example, adhering to a balanced diet and regular exercise can ward off heart conditions and lifestyle diseases.

Looking at the broader picture, a decrease in health care system dependency means less resource exploitation. For instance, you’d see a decrease in the manufacture of medical equipment and medication, which results in reduced waste production and lower carbon emissions.

Moreover, a lesser demand for health care services offers health care providers a chance to concentrate more effectively on serious and urgent cases.

Major health entities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) have always promoted preventive health care. They see it as the ideal solution to ease the load on our health care systems.

Clearly, preventive health is not solely a personal health issue. It’s also an environmental concern. The linkage between preventive health and the environment is a reality we can’t overlook. Fewer health issues translate to a lower carbon footprint, leading to less waste, culminating in a healthier and more sustainable planet for all.

When we advocate for preventive health measures, we’re not just reducing our personal health threats, but we’re simultaneously contributing to a more sustainable health care system and environment. This showcases the immense power and potential of preventive health: “Health for a person, health for the planet.”

Sustainable Choices for Medication and Healthcare Products

Making sustainable choices in all aspects of our lives holds great significance in today’s world, including in an often overlooked segment – the healthcare sector. By discussing medication options’ environmental impacts with your provider, choosing recyclable packaging, opting for products developed through sustainable practices and more, we contribute significantly to both our health and the environment.

We need to be cognizant of lesser-known facts, like that wastewater treatment facilities cannot filter out all pharmaceutical compounds from our medicines, leading to harm to aquatic life. The introduction of drug take-back programs are viable ways to dispose of unused medications that prevent environmental pollution and cut down drug abuse rates.

An impact-enhancing decision we can all make is choosing recyclable or glass-packaged healthcare products that work as effectively their plastic-packed alternatives while reducing plastic waste and pollution.

Terms like “natural” and “organic” are often seen on healthcare products. However, not all “natural” products have a positive environmental impact. Some require aggressive farming practices leading to habitat destruction and biodiversity loss. Thus, choosing companies that practice sustainable farming becomes crucial.

Another notable decision is opting for healthcare products that are not tested on animals. These products not only raise ethical concerns, but they also add to the strain on global biodiversity.

A significant contribution towards sustainability is buying in bulk, especially for long shelf-life products that you use regularly. This approach minimizes packaging waste and cuts down on transportation carbon emissions.

Ultimately, these small yet meaningful changes in our decision-making become powerful contributors to our planet’s health when expanded on a large scale. By opting for more sustainable healthcare products and medications, we not only ensure better personal health but also contribute to a healthier environment. Keeping our planet’s wellness in mind when making these decisions is a vital step in ushering in a more sustainable future.

FAQ

The health industry, not always associated with environmental concerns, ironically has a significant impact on our environment. But the emerging trend of sustainable health practices provides hope, seeking to lessen the detrimental repercussions on our planet.

Now, you’re probably asking, “How exactly does the health industry affect the environment?” The connection may not be immediately apparent, but a closer look reveals a complex relationship. Factors like waste from healthcare facilities, energy use of equipment and operations, non-recyclable single-use products, and emissions from patient and staff travel all contribute to the environmental footprint. The World Health Organization acknowledges that our health systems, far from being innocuous, contribute notably to global pollution.

So, “What exactly are these sustainable health practices?” They range from green construction and design of healthcare facilities to reducing waste, encouraging recycling, efficient energy use, and mindful use of natural resources. These practices not only mitigate environmental damage but also enhance public health. A study in “The Journal of the American Medical Association” suggests that sustainable healthcare can diminish harmful emissions, thus preventing related illnesses and deaths.

You might question, “Aren’t such practices difficult to implement?” Actually, they’re not. Take the example of Kaiser Permanente, an American integrated managed care consortium. They adopted sustainable health practices through energy efficiency measures, use of clean energy sources, and effective waste management strategies. The result was not just environmental benefits but also substantial cost savings.

An important query we often encounter is, “Can a high standard of medical care coincide with sustainable health practices?” The answer is an emphatic “Yes”. Sustainable health practices can not only maintain but potentially elevate the quality of care. Increased light and air quality in green buildings can facilitate patient healing, while improved waste management can reduce hospital-associated infections, thereby enhancing patient safety.

People often wonder, “How can individuals support these sustainable health practices?” The answer is simple: by choosing medical providers that adhere to green practices, advocating for green policies in your local health facilities, and practicing the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, and recycle – when it comes to medical supplies.

Do not forget, each stride towards sustainable health practices matters. It directs us towards a healthier planet and consequently, better health for us all. This blog merely scratches the surface of the fascinating link between the health industry’s environmental impact and sustainable practices. Your journey to understanding and personally contributing starts now. Let’s venture on this path together.

Why is the Health Industry a Major Contributor to Environmental Degradation?

The health industry, seemingly dedicated to the well-being and longevity of life, paradoxically poses a significant threat to our planet’s survival. You may be wondering how what is supposed to save us could potentially hasten our end. It’s through its unusually large environmental footprint that the health industry becomes part of the problem.

Firstly, it’s vital to appreciate the sheer scale of the health industry. As one of the largest sectors in nearly every nation, its environmental impact is expansive. Every hospital, clinic, pharmaceutical company, and yoga studio needs energy to operate, and energy production is a top driver of climate change. From the power consumed by life-saving equipment in Intensive Care Units to energy-hungry MRI scanners, the carbon footprint begins to add up.

Additionally, one cannot dismiss the medicinal supply chains and their toxic footprints. Manufacturing medical equipment and pharmaceuticals require the use of hazardous chemicals, many of which are released into water bodies and soil during their lifecycle. It is estimated that hospitals generate over 2 million tons of medical waste each year, much of which is non-biodegradable and ends up in landfills or incinerators, contributing to pollution.

Also, the use of single-use plastics and other non-reusable products in hospitals is on the rise. An operating room alone can contribute up to 5,984 tons of waste per day. While hygiene demands these standards, it is alarming that many of these products are discarded after just one use, causing a rise in health-related waste.

It’s ironic that an industry so integral to keeping us healthy contributes so significantly to environmental degradation. Of course, a large part of this is due to necessity. The safety and sterile conditions needed in healthcare settings demand the use of products and practices that are not always environmentally friendly. Yet, as a society, we must reflect on our practices and find solutions that can deliver quality healthcare without excessively harming our planet. The challenge is formidable, but so are the stakes.

Preserving our environment is crucial if we hope to have a healthy population in the long run. We need to rethink our approach to healthcare, from the energy sources we rely on to the waste we generate and how we manage it. Our survival as a species may very well depend on this. As Derrick Jensen said, “we cannot hope to create a sustainable culture with any but sustainable souls.”

In the world of medicine, the mantra has always been “do no harm.” It’s time to extend that principle to our planet. The health industry must blaze a trail in creating a more sustainable model that can continue to provide care without sacrificing our environment. The challenge is significant, yet it’s an obligation we must meet head-on.

Fortunately, hope prevails. Sustainable hospitals, greener pharmaceuticals, and eco-friendlier practices are gaining traction. Alongside the rise of eco-consciousness in society, we have the potential to mesh our need for quality healthcare without jeopardizing the health of our planet. This journey might be strenuous and lengthy, but it’s a mission we must undertake together. Ultimately, the health of our population and the health of our planet are intertwined. Caring for one means caring for the other, truly epitomizing the essence of holistic healthcare.

How Can I Make Health Choices That Are Better for the Environment?

When contemplating our personal health choices, it’s not just our physical well-being that matters but also the health of our planet. It’s undeniable that our choices at the grocery store, in our kitchens and in our fitness routines can significantly impact the environment around us. For a healthier self and world, it’s important that the decisions we make advocate environmental sustainability.

One of the most impactful ways to encourage environmental sustainability is through our dietary choices. A study in the Science journal demonstrated that switching to a plant-based diet can decrease our carbon footprint by up to 73%. As stated by Susannah Elliott, a Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, this has a far greater impact than avoiding flights or purchasing an electric vehicle. Hence, incorporating more plant-based meals into our weekly diet not only reduces cholesterol levels but also contributes greatly towards greener living.

What about fitness? The health benefits of regular exercise are well known, but the environmental expense is often overlooked. Gyms, for instance, are high consumers of energy, given the electricity required for exercise machines and lighting. Therefore, it’s worth considering outdoor exercise in nature. Not only can this decrease your carbon footprint, but according to a 2015 study from Stanford University, being amidst nature significantly enhances mental health.

Many individuals depend on vitamins and supplements for health boosts, but these are frequently packaged in plastic bottles which end up in landfills once used. Therefore, choosing brands with biodegradable or recyclable packaging is a small action with a significant positive environmental impact. Also, remember that certain dietary supplements have high carbon footprints due to agricultural and manufacturing processes.

Finally, mindfulness is an often overlooked but critical aspect of making eco-friendly choices. Taking a moment to consider your decisions and their implications can help shape better shopping, dining and exercising habits. Consider subscribing to a farmer’s market delivery service versus traditional grocery store shopping to support local farmers and reduce your carbon footprint. Additionally, choose reusable options like cloth napkins, glass jars, and beeswax wraps over disposable, single-use items.

Importantly, adopting environmentally conscious health choices isn’t an exercise in perfection nor is it about drastically altering lifestyles overnight. Instead, it’s about gradual adjustments that can, over time, significantly enhance the health of our planet – and our own well-being as a result.

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