We’ve been exploring the dimensions of wellness and how we can improve them. Environmental wellness refers to our personal environment and the health of the planet.
At first glance, environmental wellness appears unique. It seems to emphasize the outside world, as opposed to the internal changes the other dimensions prioritize. But if we examine how to improve our environmental wellness, we’ll see otherwise.
While environmental wellness is impacted by the world around us, it is improved by changes we make in ourselves. The goal of environmental wellness isn’t to solve the climate crisis; that’s too big a demand for an individual.
Instead, we change our mindset and behaviors, to have a healthier relationship with the planet, our personal environment, and ourselves.
In this post we’ll look at:
- What is environmental wellness?
- What are some ways we can minimize our impact on the planet?
- What are some actions we can take to make our personal environment a place where we can flourish?
What is Environmental Wellness?
More often than not, environmental wellness is spoken of with a focus on the planet. Learning to live sustainably is a huge part of taking care of the environment and building a relationship with nature, but there’s also much more to environmental wellness than taking care of the Earth.
Environmental wellness also includes our personal environment; where we live, work, and play. When these places are safe and healthy we thrive, and the opposite is true as well. A poor personal environment can negatively affect our health well-being.
In this article, I’ll give tips for improving your environmental wellness. This includes ways to help the planet, and ways to make your personal environment a place where you can flourish.
10 Tips for Minimizing your Impact on the Planet
Individual actions won’t change the massive environmental damage caused by agriculture and industry. But the mindset of caring for the planet and conserving resources helps connect us to higher purpose, and over time the collective shift in society will shift industries.
1. Conserve Energy
A lot of the energy we use comes from fossil fuels, so we want to use as little as possible. Spend some time thinking mindfully about ways you can reduce your energy use. Some common ways of conserving energy are:
- Unplug electronics that are not in use,
- Turn off the lights when you leave a room
- Make use of natural light
- Minimize the use of appliances (air conditioner, dishwasher, washer and dryer)
- Ensure your home is properly insulated
2. Walk, Cycle, Use Public Transportation, or Carpool
Cars create emissions and use fossil fuels. By using alternative modes of transportation when we can, we reduce the emissions we’re responsible for. These tips can also save you money and can be healthy.
3. Follow the Rs
By going beyond the 3 Rs we learned in school, we can ensure we’re making environmentally responsible decisions. Followed in order, we can reduce waste produced and sent to the landfill.
4. Shop for In-Season Locally Grown Produce
Produce that is in-season and grown locally has less of an environmental impact as food grown elsewhere has to be transported. If you have access to fresh produce near you, take advantage of foods that are in-season; not only is it better for the planet, it will likely be cheaper and fresher.
5. Spend Time Outside
Getting in touch with nature is a fun and easy way to strengthen your connection to the planet. Having a connection with nature strengthens your environmental wellness and is also good for your mental and physical wellness.
6. Phase Out Single-Use Products
Single use products are incredibly wasteful and usually have a reusable counterpart. Even though single-use products are often cheaper and more convenient, their environmental impacts are expensive to the planet and the reusable version will save you money in the long run.
Here are 3 reusable swaps you can DIY.
7. Use Less Water
Clean, fresh water is a limited resource. Conserving water is more than short showers and not running the tap; most items and foods require water to be produced. You can use an online tool to calculate your water footprint and get ideas for how to reduce your water use.
Also, check out this awesome list Shelby put together on her blog of 55 Ways to Conserve Water.
8. Vote for Environmentally-Minded Politicians
Beyond federal elections, following and voting in municipal and provincial or state elections is incredibly important for protecting the planet. These are the governments that are most directly responsible for projects and decisions that affect the environment, so our elected representatives should have comprehensive environmental policies.
9. Support Sustainable Brands
Not everyone can afford or has access to sustainable brands, and there are still tons of other ways to minimize your impact. But, if you’re in a position to do so and you actually need the item, shopping from and supporting sustainable brands shows the industry what people want and can help spur change.
However, with increased demand for sustainable practices some brands are trying to get your business without actually doing anything for the environment. This practice is called greenwashing, and it’s something to look out for.
10. Knowledge and Awareness
Learning about sustainability is probably the most important thing you can do for the planet. By understanding the principles of sustainability you can make better choices and you share what you know with others.
10 Ways to Take Your Personal Space to the Next Level
Taking care of the planet is important for our future, but we also have to take care of ourselves. By cultivating a happy, healthy personal environment we set ourselves up for success.
11. Safety and Security
Take time to do a safety audit of your home: examine windows and locks for security, and test your alarms regularly. Not only will this give you peace of mind, it can save you and your loved ones in case of an emergency. Part of safety and security is being aware of toxic materials to avoid bringing into your space.
12. Physical Comfort
Having a place to relax can help you feel more rested and ready for your other activities. What this place looks like depends on the individual; a comfy chair or couch, or simply a mat on the floor. What matters most is that it works for you.
13. Pleasing to the Senses
Taking time to decorate your personal environment with things you like, such as pictures, colours, scents, and sounds, can make your space somewhere you enjoy spending time. You might be limited by money, or because your space is shared, but you can start by thinking small and creatively.
14. Adequate Lighting
Eye strain can cause headaches and tension, and over time may lead to poorer eyesight. Ensuring your personal space as enough lighting is essential. Natural light is ideal if possible, but even simply adding a lamp for reading can help.
15. Bring Some Nature Inside
Houseplants can help filter the air, but more importantly they’re nice to look at and bring a sense of nature inside when you may otherwise be stuck indoors.
16. Minimize Noise
The world is a lot noisier than it used to be. Background noise is not only distracting, but can also lead to headaches, tension, and irritability. You can reduce background noise in your house by unplugging buzzing electronics and setting your phone ringtone to silent.
When possible, avoid noisy areas (near train tracks, highways) and if you’re a homeowner, strategically planting trees around your house can help reduce the noise from the environment. Insulating walls and windows and installing heavy, noise-blocking curtains can also help.
Especially for those with a smaller personal environment, having separate areas for sleeping, eating, working, and relaxing creates needed distinction for your brain. Using your personal environment creatively to create separation can help your brain shift gears when it’s time to focus on an activity.
18. Be Conscious of the Vibes and People in your Space
By bringing mostly positive thoughts, vibes, experiences, and people into your personal space you create an atmosphere that is conducive to positivity.
19. Engage with your Community
Find and take part in local, community activities. Not only will it improve your sense of community, you’ll get to know your area and neighbors which can make your personal environment feel safer.
Often, we have too much stuff in our space that isn’t bringing us value. You’ve likely heard the saying, “cluttered desk, cluttered mind” and it’s true. Removing distractions and clutter that creates stress will make your personal environment more effective.
When you declutter, do so mindfully; don’t just send everything to the landfill. An easy way to do this is to follow a zero-waste decluttering technique like this 10 in 15 challenge.
Not everyone is privileged to have the time, space, and money to create the perfect Instagram-worthy personal environment. And that’s okay! You don’t need to compare yourself to others, and you don’t need to drop hundreds to have a space that works for you.
Take what you can from this list and do what is in your power to change. Leave the rest and don’t stress; It’s not worth your time. Think creatively and be flexible.
Let me know what you do to live sustainably and create a healthy, positive environment.