For a long time the focus of wellness has been it’s relation with physical health. A holistic approach to health, fitness and nutrition are very much the standard now. The challenge is to extend that holistic approach to another dimension like your environment and understand why wellness here is also important.

Environmental wellness is important because it encourages you to be a good steward of the planet. Learning about and contributing to the health of the planet will influence your daily operations. Your goal is to operate in a way that promotes a healthy environment for you and your peers.

The fundamental proposition of environmental wellness is respect. Respect for all of nature and all species living in it. Respecting and having awareness of your surroundings by creating a clean, healthy and safe environment. It may sound like I am suggesting you need to join a movement or organisation to contribute to environmental wellness but that is not the case. 

I believe there are a number of environmentally conscious practices that everyone can adopt. By adopting these practices you can make a big difference to your environmental wellness.

Awareness of Usage of Natural Resources

The planet's natural resources are not limitless so everyone needs to take responsibility in preserving them. By increasing your awareness on the usage of natural resources you ensure a better quality of life now and for the future. 

You can begin by learning about the process of acquiring natural resources along with how those processes impact the environment. You will understand the importance of conserving non-renewable resources and moving to more renewable natural resources.

Environmental wellness is important

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

One of the best ways you can be a good steward to the planet is to be less wasteful. Think of how many times you have bought something, not used it and then thrown it away. To reduce waste you should always think about the “waste hierarchy”: 

  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle

The three R’s of waste management provide guidance on how to make small changes in your daily lifestyle. Those changes can make significant changes to your environmental wellness. By decreasing your waste you help to conserve natural resources, use less energy and landfill space. You will also save money for yourself and your community. 

Reduce

Before obtaining something ask yourself, do I really need it? Deciding that you don’t need something means there is less to recycle or reuse. You should consider whether there is a better option, whether there is a real purpose or whether it is something you need to do. Here are some practical ways to reduce waste:

  • Food: Create a meal plan, cook more often, grow and make your own. Eat less meat, store leftovers in freezer and compost food waste.
  • Paper: Remove yourself from mailing list. “No Junk, No advertising” sticker on letter box. Use cloth napkins and rags, use a handkerchief. Print on both sides of paper and send documents to your smartphone.
  • Power: Turn off lights and choose the right light. Shutdown your computer and unplug idle electronics. Use less hot water and buy appliances with good energy rating.

Reuse

If you have boxes of stuff clogging up your cupboards and garage, try to reduce that waste by reusing them. Learn to reuse or repurpose things that have served their original purpose. A large scale example of this is repurposing old shipping containers into homes and offices. Try to either reuse items yourself or donate them for others to make use off. Popular reusing and repurposing items are the following:

  • Books
  • Clothes
  • Electric equipment
  • Furniture
  • Jars or containers
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Rubber bands

Recycle

This is your final chance to use your waste in an environmental way. Recycling has grown in popularity over the last two decades but it is the most costly area of the waste hierarchy. Your goal should be to recycle as few items as you reduce and reuse as often as possible. 

Environmental wellness is important

While many products can be recycled you may be only kicking the can down the road one generation. At some point that item will still be trash that can’t or won’t (because it costs too much) be recycled again. Therefore when obtaining products you should always have strong consideration on whether they can be recycled. Here is a list of products that can be recycled:

  • Cardboard and paper
  • Brown, clear and green glass bottles
  • Juice and milk cartons
  • Plastic bottles and containers
  • Tin and aluminium cans

Develop a more Sustainable Lifestyle

A sustainable lifestyle means giving more consideration to the climate, environment and other species when you make lifestyle choices. If you really want to make some changes you should be realistic and don’t put pressure on yourself. It is unrealistic to change all your habits at the same time so choose one thing first. 

Focus on changing that one and once successful achieved you will be more motivated to make more changes. Here a few ways to start living more sustainable

Smarter Travel

You can become a sustainable traveller by intelligently planning all facets of your trip. Pay particular attention to the three pillars of sustainable tourism:

  • 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)
  • Protecting cultural and natural heritage
  • Providing tangible social and economic benefits for local communities

With these in mind, you should give careful consideration to how you will get to your destination. Is it possible to take a train instead of driving or flying? Taking the train gives you a great opportunity to get a more immersive experience and experience slow travel

Environmental wellness is important

The most popular global destinations are now suffering from overtourism. The strain on infrastructure and pricing hikes have led to a lot of anger among local communities. 

You should try to avoid destinations that are being harmed by over tourism as there are lots of alternatives. If you really need to visit one the more popular destinations consider travelling off-peak, outside of summer or school holidays. 

Finally when you are at your destination try to fit into the local way of life. Be respectful of the local customs and culture and talk to locals to find out what to do and see.

Sustainable Eating

Your decision on what you eat has a powerful impact on your environmental wellness. To eat more sustainably you need to pay more attention to where your food is coming from. Also the way the food is produced. This applies to both animal and plant based food.

Food production has a huge impact on the environment with 70% of freshwater from lakes and rivers used in agriculture. Fruit and vegetables are now mass produced using fertilisers, fossil fuels and fabricated pesticides which seriously damages the soil.

Finally the demand for fresh food all year around means that your food can be travelling many miles to get your plate. Below are some tips for your eating to become more sustainable:

Consider where you shop

Where you buy your food from has a massive impact on your sustainable eating. Reduce time spent at large supermarkets by limiting shopping at them to once per week. Try to protisie shopping locally as it is a great way to support your community. 

Identify opportunities to purchase directly from farms such as or seafood providers. This could be “Pick-your-own’ farms or fishermen who sell directly from their boat or on a pier. You will also see part of the food process first hand and be able to discuss the challenges farmers and fisherman face.

Grow your Own

This is a growing trend and is a simple step that can make a big difference to your environmental wellness. One of the perceived major obstacles to growing your own food is space. In fact is a great idea to start small. Plant a few herbs on your balcony or yard and you will develop a greater appreciation of what it takes to create food. 

Like the importance of seasons and the commitment required to nurture a seed into edible food. Going through the whole process will definitely have an influence on how you buy, use and waste food.

Healthy Eating Plate

There are many ways you can ensure that you have a healthy eating plate. Start with eating a variety of food and don’t rely on the same dishes and same core ingredients. Look at your plate and if it lacks colour then you are probably missing out on natural food and nutrients. 

Add more beans, nuts and vegetables to your diet. Follow the examples of Asian and Mediterranean diets which are high in planet based food.

A strategy to reduce the amount of meat you consume is to implement meat free days. A 2015 study concluded that a diet that is vegetarian 5 days a week and includes meat 2 days a week is sustainable. It also would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water and land use by about 45%. 

Going vegetarian helps the planet as it cuts your carbon footprint in half. You are reducing the use of natural resources to produce meat products. You can find the protein you get from your daily chicken meal from many other plant sources.

Go Big on Wholefoods, say No to Processed Food

You should avoid processed food as much as possible as they are detrimental to your environmental wellness. These types of food require lots of manufacturing and use lots of ingredients coming from all parts of the world. They have a high carbon footprint due to high levels of corn and soy that both require a lot of resources to process.

Look at the ingredients of a muesli or nutrition bar, it’s a long list of ingredients including salts, sugars and preservatives. Can they be really healthier than eating natural food?

Wholefoods are natural food with no processing or minimal refinements. You will not find any extra salt, sugar, flavouring, colouring or preservative. We are talking about fruit, vegetables, natural grains, beans, nuts and seeds. 

Environmental wellness is important

You can confidently eat them knowing that the energy and resources used to produce them is low. Finally the healthier options and in my humble opinion taste a lot better!

Be Mindful

A study conducted by the EAT-Lancet commission concluded that the worlds’ faulty food system is in big trouble. It estimates that almost 1 billion people are hungry, and almost 2 billion people are eating too much of the wrong food. 

The consequences of this situation are widespread and need to be addressed soon rather than later. Insufficient food and unhealthy diets contribute to premature death and morbidity. And global food production is damaging the earth by destroying local food ecosystems.

This is why we need to be more mindful about what we eat and the way we eat. You should reflect on where your food came from and how it nourishes your body. When you receive hunger signals learn to respond accordingly and only eat enough food to satisfy that hunger.

Being mindful when you eat will change your food consumption, only eating the calories you need daily to function.

Water Sustainability

Finding ways to safeguard water is fundamental to environmental wellness. Water is a precious resource and it is vital for the earth for it to remain habitable. It is estimated that 748 million people globally don’t have basic water access. Also more people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war. 

As you can see it is imperative that you do everything in your powers to conserve and save water. Also you will save money on your energy and utility bills. Here are some tips that you should implement to manage your water consumption:

  • Always turn off the tap when you are brushing your teeth or shaving. You can save three to four gallons of water per day.
  • Limit your shower to a maximum time of five minutes whenever possible. By doing this you will not only save water but also money on your heating bill. Make sure you are using a water-efficient shower head as they use 40% less water.
  • Don’t wash fruit and vegetables under the running tap, fill a bowl or pan and clean food in it. You can then reuse this water on your plants.
  • Whenever possible use the dishwasher and washing machine on full loads. If you do use them for smaller loads be sure to adjust the water level to reflect size of load.

If you have a garden there a number of water saving initiatives you can implement:

  • Use grey-water or rainwater to water the garden
  • Downsize your lawn as the grass used on them requires a lot of water to be maintained. Replace the unused lawn with native grass, flowers, shrubs or even trees that will thrive in the environment
  • Water mindfully using an effective sprinkler system that just waters the garden, not the driveway or sidewalk.

Becoming a good steward for the planet starts with your local community and getting involved. There are many ways you can make a valuable contribution to your community that will also improve your environmental wellness.

Clear Your Clutter

Clutter is no joke and it is so easy to be afflicted with it nowadays. Goods are relatively cheaper and so easy to buy. Online purchasing has made everything just a few clicks away and it is very easy to get addicted to buying without thinking. 

Environmental wellness is important

Whether it’s shoes, clothes, books or gadgets for the home, you may have reached the stage where all the excess stuff is taking over rooms in your home. You set an intention to do something about the clutter but you always put it off and it just keeps growing! Here’s a couple of ideas to motivate you to tackle the problem:

Have a Party!

Well a clutter-clearing party where you and some family and friends invite a local charity organisation to collect your clutter and be reused. A garage or yard sale is another option and they are now turning into massive community events.

Use the Library

If you love to read then it is very easy to get into the habit of buying books. E-books are a great alternative but for many of us one of the joys of reading is the feel and touch of turning paper pages of a book. Loaning books from a library is the perfect solution and stops you from accumulating books that you will probably never read again! 

Also consider donating read books. You can really make a difference to someone who wouldn’t have the means to buy the book.

Connecting with People

Isolation will have a negative impact on your environmental wellness. Consequently the connections you have are important to your environmental wellness. No matter how busy your life is you should make time to connect with your community. 

Saying good morning to your neighbours is a good place to start so you become a recognized face in the community. Look for ways to volunteer your time such as helping out senior care centres or shelters. Or get involved in local events such as arts & crafts or food festivals.

Finally just being outside is very important to your environmental wellness. Having a regular connection with nature will encourage you more to think about the health of the planet. You will develop more respect for nature and the species living it. So as much as you can take a walk in your local park or walk or cycle whenever possible instead of driving.

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