There's a new book coming out this week called No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life In the Process by Colin Beavan (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), which is the account of one Manhattan man's (and his family's) year-long quest to reduce their impact on the earth. The project gained a lot of attention in 2007 when the New York Times first detailed his quest, and will also be released as a documentary film on Sept. 11.
While Beavan initially sets out to help the health of the planet—by reducing his trash production (no take-out, no purchasing of new products), cutting his reliance on electricity (no washing machine, no lights, no elevators), curtailing his eating of food brought in from far, far away and other things that contribute to the overall detriment of our environment—along the way he notes that he ends up with some pretty cool health benefits, too.
A few of note:
+After only a few months of eating locally–meaning no food that was grown more than 250 miles away—both the author and his wife notice they are substantially slimmer. This dietary stricture pretty much excised any processed foods from their diet, for sure—they ate meals consisting of tons of fruits, vegetables, homemade bread, and dairy. They made exceptions for olive oil, vinegar and coffee—three items that just aren't produced in or around New York City. So a typical breakfast is eggs, cheese, fruit; lunch, similar—plus vegetables, too. Dinner, more of the same-—plus bread and animal protein from local farms.
+Since Beavan lives on the ninth floor of his apartment building, he and his wife found themselves walking up and down those flights of stairs a huge number of times a day—which I can only imagine did wonders for his overall cardiovascular capacity not to mention his quads, glutes, and calves! (Oh, and they also have a dog who requires several walks a day—those stairs really add up! One day—the dog had an upset tummy—he estimates that he did 115 flights.) Both Beavan and his wife used a bikes or a scooter to get around the city and found that it's not only convenient but great exercise. To spare their then two-year-old toddler, Isabella, from the excessive up-and-down, Beavan notes that he often carried her on his shoulders.
+Once Beavan and his wife cut the circuit breaker and adapted to a candle-lit evening existence, they discovered that they adjusted their sleep/wake habits to be more in tune with the rhythms of the sun. No TV buzzing at all hours, no computer begging for just a few more minutes of email or web-surfing. As Beavan put it: "We are asleep most nights by ten. People keep telling us how good we look."
While I am not going to necessarily mimic all of the changes Beavan and his family undertook, it does make me realize, again, the power of small changes and how some of the things you can do for the environment can help the 'environment' of your own body and mind.