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Problems You May Face While Trying To Lead a Greener, Healthier Life

In many ways, environmental responsibility and good health go hand-in-hand. Certain efforts to maintain one can impact the other. Your attempts to live a greener and healthier life don’t just improve your own immediate wellbeing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), making sustainable choices helps mitigate the potential for climate-related health issues for the wider community. 

Though the wellness and environmental benefits of a green lifestyle are clear, it isn’t always easy to live this way. You’ll be faced with some significant challenges in your efforts to be both green and healthy. Overcoming the following obstacles will take some effort and, while this may be frustrating at times, the positive outcomes for you, your friends, and your family are worthwhile.

Gaining Reliable Information

Solid information is crucial when trying to lead a greener and healthier life. Many people have a certain amount of familiarity with the best practices of sustainability and information shared among social groups of like-minded people has historically been quite effective. However, despite your efforts to stay informed, accessing truly reliable information can be a challenge.

A key example of this is the vast number of potentially toxic chemicals people are exposed to daily. Minimizing these toxins in consumables and cosmetics is beneficial to your health and the environment. The CDC tracks about 200 chemicals and issues reports on how their use in products affects human wellness.

However, you likely face far more chemical exposure risks than you realize. Recent reports from environmental scientists suggest that a relatively small number of the hundreds of thousands of chemicals we’re exposed to are actively studied. Practices such as regretful substitution — where a well-publicized toxic chemical is replaced with an underexplored chemical — make it almost impossible to get reliable information about these risks.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be proactive in performing your own research on all the consumables you use. Keeping abreast of scientific news and reading the occasional paper by an environmental scientist is a good way to be among the best and earliest informed. When in doubt, it can be wise to utilize green cleaning products, foods, and cosmetics that you can be sure come from trustworthy, organic sources. 

Recognizing Unethical Practices

Ethical behavior is one of the most important influences on whether you can lead a greener and healthier life. In an ideal world, you’d be able to rely on businesses to perform ethical actions that support your desire for higher sustainability and health standards. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. One of your challenges is to recognize these unethical practices when they occur. In some instances, this will be a case of understanding the points at which you and manufacturers diverge on what constitutes ethical behavior.

For example, the consumables mentioned above aren’t the only items with chemicals in them. Other common household products are riddled with chemicals, both well-known and unexplored. Certain kinds of cookware may be toxic, such as pots and pans that are treated with a variety of different chemicals to achieve a non-stick finish. When you cook with these items, those chemicals can seep into your food and negatively impact your health. This also may mean the cookware can’t be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way.

You may consider it unethical for companies to create and sell such products to the public. However, the fact such chemicals pass industry health inspections may seem entirely ethical to the manufacturer. They may feel they have done their due diligence regarding consumer safety. These discrepancies are exactly why you must be discerning in performing research into components and manufacturing processes yourself, especially when companies make that information available.

However, one of the most insidious ethical challenges you face is greenwashing. This isn’t a simple disagreement on what is ethical. Companies using greenwashing know full well that their methods are not environmentally friendly and adopt practices to conceal this to dupe consumers. It’s important to become familiar with the vague language companies use — like “eco-friendly” and “natural” — to suggest genuinely sustainable practices. You also need to research the activities of such companies so you can make informed decisions and avoid supporting them.

Navigating Higher Costs

Living a green and healthy lifestyle is undoubtedly beneficial for you and your family. However, the commercial infrastructure is largely geared toward bringing the public more affordable food and products by implementing practices that are neither sustainable nor healthy. This aspect of the industry is so well-entrenched that it results in another problem you’ll face: greener and healthier products tend to be more expensive.

At the moment, many green products are offered by niche companies. Understandably, their profit margins are much narrower and they have to charge more to stay in business. Wherever possible, it’s certainly important to support these environmentally ethical companies. Not only does this benefit the environment, but this also demonstrates to the market that there is a greater demand for genuinely green and healthy products. This can encourage other companies to take a similar approach with their products and services to meet that increasing demand.

You can still make an effort to live sustainably if you can’t afford the high cost of sustainable products — and even if you can, certain steps can help you offset those expenses. Make use of your yard space or window sills to grow your own vegetables. Collaborate with local co-operatives and similar initiatives to share produce from community gardens rather than buying from big box grocery stores. Upcycle used furniture instead of ordering flat-pack items; in addition to being cost-effective, this will also help reduce the presence of chemicals in your home.


Living greener and healthier is a priority for many people, but it can be quite challenging. A lack of reliable information on chemical exposure in consumables can mean you need to be more proactive in seeking research before buying products. Identifying poor environmental ethics is also key to avoiding companies who purposefully or passively behave in unsustainable ways. While there is little avoiding higher costs of green products, you can balance this with alternative sources for certain items.

Hopefully, the growing demand for sustainable and healthy items will influence change in the near future. But, for now, it’s vital to understand these hurdles so you can more effectively navigate them.

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