You want to make green changes in your life because it’s healthier for the planet, ensures a better and cleaner future, and often helps you and your family become healthier. But can making eco-friendly changes change your peace of mind, too? Aside from the knowledge that you are doing positive things that will affect the planet, people, and animals who live on it for the better, there is even some scientific evidence that going green can lead to more happiness.

A 2006 study done by a student attending Imperial College London showed a link between environmentally friendly choices and well-being. The study reviewed the answers to questions regarding the environmental awareness and actions of 700 people, along with their answers to questions regarding their sense of satisfaction with their lives and their overall well-being. Study participants who reported more environmental awareness and more eco-friendly choices also reported a higher level of health and happiness. The study showed that people who reported higher scores in the following 3 areas also reported the highest levels of overall satisfaction:

1. A connection to nature. Whether it’s planting a garden, getting involved with saving a forest or an endangered animal, or reducing your carbon footprint, feeling closer to nature is a big part of the decision to live a green lifestyle. It turns out, that connection to the living world can also give you a sense of well-being and happiness that aren’t found elsewhere.

2. Being involved in the local community. Oftentimes, when people start making green changes, they do so in part by turning to organic, local food and products. The closer an item is to your home, the less of a burden it places on the environment because it does not need to be shipped long distance. Getting to know local farmers, growers, artisans and businesspeople can increase your sense of community and your sense of happiness. Also, getting involved in local organization who do eco-friendly activities right in your backyard allows you to make positive changes that affect your family, friends and local environment.

3. A small value placed on “material” things. When you begin to reduce your purchases, waste, energy usage, and overal “consumerism,” you will begin to see that just because it’s for sale doesn’t mean it needs to be bought. Having fewer things means less clutter, less packaging to dispose of, reduced transportation costs, and a host of other positive benefits. Reusing items, reducing what you do by and recycleing are the cornerstone of the green movemnet for good reason: it eliminates landfill waste and benefits the planet. Having fewer material things also means spending less money, which is one way to lighten your mental load!

Doing good for the planet may be a personal choice, an activity meant to bring your family closer, or a lifestyle, but now that your know about the positive mental benefits of “going green,” it can also be a way to increase your overall hapiness.