Healthier families for a Healthier Planet

Authored by Karen Voci – Executive Director, Harvard Pilgrim Foundation

It was wonderful (finally!) to hear President Obama put the rapidly warming earth at the top of his second term agenda in his inaugural speech: “we will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

But if you live in New England, you didn’t need the President to tell you that something is desperately wrong with our weather. We had a winter without snow followed by ferocious storms – Nemo right after Sandy – and plant and animal habitats unable to support traditional species.

As we all try to redouble our efforts to lead sustainable lives, or at least lesson our use of carbon-based fuels, it’s encouraging to know that Let’s Go’s message of 5210 is a roadmap to planet health as well as family health:

Boy eating apple5 fresh fruits and vegetables a day can cut down overall meat consumption which reduces pollution from animals – an important source of climate warming. And even better, if the produce is grown and harvested locally less carbon fuel is used to transport it to market.

Girl skipping rope with TV off2 hours or less of recreational screen time helps to minimize the use of electricity, most of which is generated now from burning fuel that adds to pollution.

Father and son walking1 hour of physical activity – especially if it’s walking or biking instead of driving cars is another key pollution reducer.

Girl drinking waterAnd last but far from least, 0 sugared drinks and more water – cuts down on all of the processes to refine the sugar and manufacture the drinks, not to mention the energy used to make the containers and the landfills they pack each year.

Clearly, this isn’t all we can or should do to reverse climate change, but it’s a great start and its easier knowing that there’s a double win for every step we take to eat better and move more. We all want the New England we love – from forests and mountains to our iconic coasts – to be preserved for our great grandchildren. Let’s Go’s 5210 message can help us do that while keeping us all healthy enough to enjoy them.