We all benefit from a flourishing natural environment. The very air we breathe is made more nourishing by the prevalence of trees and greenery in our local areas, which also play a role in cooling our suburban environments and housing the precious ecosystems of local wildlife.
While this much is clear, it can be tricky to know exactly what we, as individuals, can do to have the most positive effect on our environment possible.
There’s so much information available to us from so many different sources and so many strong opinions on what’s right and what’s not. From electric cars to veganism, to zero-waste movements, finding a starting point can easily become overwhelming.
While what you hear about big corporations and oil companies being the most significant contributors to emissions is true; the habits of the many – that is, the combined contribution of us as individuals – add up to be a significant portion of humanity’s joint environmental impact.
Here at Eden, we believe in a holistic approach to all things health and wellness, including the health and wellness of this incredible planet we call home. So, in acknowledgement of World Environment Day, we’ve compiled some simple ways that you can reduce your impact on the environment and have a tangible contribution to the betterment of our planet. After all, there’s #OnlyOneEarth.
First: Set your intentions
The first step is simple yet powerful: mindfully set your intention to lead a lifestyle that is harmonious with the health of our planet. Before diving into ditching single-use plastics or buying an electric car, take the time to consciously appreciate how the state of our environment impacts our wellbeing and that of future generations, and the incredible healing and uplifting benefits that Mother Nature offers us. Turning your mindset to one of genuine appreciation and care will help you maintain your efforts to live more sustainably for the long run.
1. Have a mindset to minimise
Out of sight and out of mind; our food makes an energy-exhaustive journey from farm to fridge. By shopping locally, as well as enjoying fruits and vegetables that are in season, we shorten the trip that our food has to take to reach us and minimise transport necessities that are so costly to the composition of our atmosphere.
Plan your meals for the week, and practice the skills of buying only what you need. Food waste is one of the most significant contributors to negative environmental affect. Not only does this help ensure that you’re not throwing away food unnecessarily but it also helps you save money on your grocery shopping as well!
Composting is a practice fundamental to our sustainability ethos here at Eden Health Retreat. It involves recycling organic matter – such as food scraps, leaves, sawdust and most forms of paper – into fertilizer that enriches soil and plants. This provides an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing organisms to do their natural work at an increased speed, diverting waste away from greenhouse gas-emitting landfills, lowering your carbon footprint and supplying you with fertilizer to create healthy, nutrient-rich soil to boot.
Be mindful of your water usage while completing your morning and evening rituals. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your face.
Consider your water-using appliances and minimise their use by waiting until your dishwasher or laundry baskets are full before running a cycle. You’ll also find that this reduces your power consumption, which not only has great benefits for the environment but also your electricity bills!
On the topic of electricity usage, did you know that phone chargers will still consume energy even without a device attached to them? Unplug or turn off electrical items at the wall when not in use, and utilize LED lights for a longer-lasting bulb that reduces electricity usage.
2. Conservation through connection
When we say conservation through connection, what we’re talking about is nurturing your relationship with the natural environment.
Take time to enjoy and celebrate nature with friends, family, and community. Whether it be wilderness adventures, hikes, swimming in natural bodies of water, or even just going for a soothing walk through nature, spending time in these settings helps reduce the disconnection we sometimes feel from our natural environment when we’re so swept up in our everyday routines.
Some things you can do to foster your connection with nature include:
Enjoy more plants in your diet
By eating more plant-based goods, you can reduce your dependence on the farming of animal products. While some research has claimed that adopting a vegan diet is the most beneficial thing you can do as an individual for the environment, even adopting more flexitarian food philosophy – a combination of the words ‘flexible’ and ‘vegetarian’ – can provide a host of benefits to your health, as well as lessening your effect on the environment.
Have environmental sensitivity in all aspects of your life
Breaks in our routines such as public holidays or vacations are often opportunities we can seize to spend more time in our natural environments. It’s important that during these times, we continue to practice positive environmental habits. Reflect on ways in which you can benefit your local ecosystems. Be mindful of habitats; stay on paths and follow signs, and dispose of rubbish sensibly. Don’t throw away good habits just because of a break in routine!
Enjoy the natural over the material
While it’s great to work hard to achieve our goals, have security for our families, and live a comfortable life, material prosperity only provides happiness to a certain extent. Look for ways to actively minimize stress, unplug, reset your batteries and seize opportunities to be in nature. Exercise your moment-to-moment awareness by spending time with those you love, providing learning opportunities for future generations, and contributing to your community. You’ll find these are a greater source of satisfaction than overindulging in material consumption.
3. Purchase Mindfully – Research, reduce, and reuse!
Your money is power. Our shopping habits contribute directly to our impact on the environment, and our purchases shouldn’t be something that is done haphazardly. Instead, adopt an attitude of learning when it comes to shopping for different goods.
The internet is an incredible resource for finding out how your purchases can make a difference. Due to the demand for eco-friendly products, more and more brands are adopting or becoming transparent with their sustainability practices, making it easier than ever to find out which brands align with your environmental values!
Many clothing, shoes, and lifestyle brands now employ different sustainability practices such as using recycled, recyclable, or biodegradable materials for products and packaging, as well as choosing to make different parts of their manufacturing processes more sustainable at different points in the production chain.
However, be aware of greenwashing – an unethical practice some companies adopt to appear more environmentally friendly than they actually are.
Or, instead of defaulting to brand new purchases, try your hand at op-shopping, which helps keep clothes out of landfills, reduces carbon and chemical pollution caused by clothing production, and lowers water consumption.
Many op-shops are founded in support of local charities, so take it a step further and find out which of your local thrift stores support environmental causes! On the flip side, make it a habit to resell or donate your second-hand clothing.
A final note
While these tips will help you to foster your connection with nature and live a more sustainable life, pay attention to what makes you feel connected to nature. Take time to reflect on the areas of your life that may have an impact and you may discover unique practices that resonate with you.