Environmental Wellness

“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

-The Lorax

Happy Earth Day! In honor of Earth Day, I thought it would be the perfect time to focus on one of the seven dimensions of wellness-environmental wellness. Environmental wellness incorporates learning how to engage in sustainable practices and understanding how our daily decisions impact the natural environment. Ultimately, all of our decisions, whether it is the foods we consume or the products we buy, will impact our lovely planet and home.

As much as we should enjoy the beauty mother nature has to offer, we must also take responsibility to protect our planet’s limited natural resources. I believe our decisions should encompass sustainability measures to ensure that we are not creating impossible problems for future generations. At the very least, we should be working towards identifying solutions for the environmental problems we are currently creating. The good news is that are many organizations who are investing in economic research and working towards solving some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems. These organizations are led by individuals who exhibit growth mindsets and are future-oriented through their commitment to a better future for all people.

Food Choices: Did you know that more than 30% of the available food in the United States is thrown away every year? I won’t even get started on my “American food portions are WAY too large” rant. But honestly, I think we have a lot to learn from some of the healthier nations around the world.

  1. ReFED: a nonprofit organization that utilizes a data-driven approach to address the many inefficiencies in our food system. I started reading their report-A Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste by 20% and the first paragraph left me completely blown away…

    “By 2050, it is estimated that the Earth’s population will top 9 billion. This growing population will undeniably stress our food systems, natural resources, and ecosystems. But consider this: Currently, we waste up to 40% of our food globally. In the United States, this equals roughly 400 pounds annually for every American. Meanwhile, one in seven Americans are food insecure.”

    ReFED has developed a roadmap to address food waste because economic analysis has revealed this is a solvable problem. The necessary resources are available, but we need policymakers and consumers to get involved in order to achieve widespread change. A strategy to solve global food waste has been developed. Now it all comes down to the execution of the strategy, as well as global participation.

  2. The Better Buying Lab: this initiative was launched by the World Resources Institute to develop strategies to enable consumers to purchase and consume sustainable foods. Did you know that different proteins can impact the environment in a variety of ways? Meat and dairy production are more resource-intensive to produce compared to plant-based foods. Check out the World Resources Institute’s Protein Scorecard to learn more about how your diet impacts agricultural resources.

“The world’s population is expected to grow to nearly 10 billion people by 2050, requiring 70 percent more food than what’s available today. If we’re to meet the demands of the future, we must develop a sustainable way forward for food production and consumption.”

The three core focuses of the Better Buying Lab include transforming how the food industry communicates about plant-based foods, popularizing dishes rich in plants, and identifying the right environmental metrics, methods, and targets.

These organizations are operating at a global level, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved and bring about change as well!

  • Plant your own small garden! Backyard veggies always taste better and this is a great way to increase the plant-based food consumption in your household!
  • Start your own backyard compost bin! This activity will save you money and make the plants in your garden extra happy!
  • Purchase canvas bags and ditch those plastic bags! But really…it is time.
  • Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle! Once you start identifying simple ways to become more environmentally-friendly, you’ll be amazed how simple switches will transform into larger lifestyle changes!
  • For more simple ideas, check out the United Nations’ “The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World” and get to work!

Product Choices: Businesses are aware that as the “going green” trend continues into the future, they must engage in sustainable practices to appeal to consumers. As consumers, we must acknowledge that many large corporations are not actually committed to reducing the environmental impact of their operations. We call this “greenwashing” and it occurs when a company spends more money on advertising that they are “green” than what they are actually investing to implement green initiatives. How crazy is that?! Fortunately, the Social Age has forced companies to become more transparent and this sneaky strategy will not lead to long-term success. There are methods to identify which companies are actually committed to reducing their environmental impact, you just have to do your research. The companies who truly care about their long-term impact on the environment are the ones I want to do business with.

How do you engage in sustainable practices? What are the methods you utilize to achieve a balance with nature and how does this impact your other dimensions of wellness? I would love to hear your thoughts!