Wellness Wednesday: Earth Day Edition – 4/21/21
Protecting our planet is one of those things, like health and wellness, that seems to transcend class, race, politics, and all other things that divide us. Now, I know that when politics is involved, it doesn’t seem that way. But it doesn’t take being a member of the Republican, Democrat, or even Green-Rainbow Parties to understand that “going green” even in small, simple ways, can benefit everything from our wallets, to our communities, to our ocean life. In honor of Earth Day tomorrow, this week we’re thinking green. We’ll talk the positive benefits of living eco-friendly, habits that help our environment, and how we can all do our part as individuals. Don’t worry, it’s actually pretty easy to be green.
Why Go Green?
Climate change poses many threats to our environment, and in turn many important components of our society. And it’s more than just the weather getting hot: water levels rising will affect coastline communities, air temperatures will affect our farms and thus our fresh produce, hurricanes will become more intense, and more. But I’m going to ground this in community, for there are many important benefits to living eco-friendly that hit close to home.
When it comes to your house specifically, an article from the National Self Build and Renovation Centre says that making eco-friendly changes can increase water and energy efficiency, promote a healthy indoor environment, lowers your carbon footprint and increases the property value. Moreover, the article says that:
“Green building materials are often more durable and require much less maintenance over time, helping your home to look newer for longer and saving money on costly repairs. This extended lifespan and little need for upkeep can also help to significantly reduce your home’s environmental impact.”
According to this article by Annabelle Short, more benefits of living green include conservation of natural resources, promoting a healthy diet, saving money, and raising climate awareness in children. Personally, I find that making small changes to help the environment can promote mental health and boost positivity by simply making you feel like you’re doing something good. While there are many scary things going on in the news, doing my part in any way possible makes me feel a little better about each day.
Where Do I Start?
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking “I’m just one person, how can I, alone, protect our planet?” I like to think of it like this: if one person in an audience claps, it’s awkward. But usually, once one person starts, everyone joins in to create uproarious applause. If many individuals make the same changes, then the environment will reap the benefits of the entire population’s contributions.
I encourage you to start with this article from Yahoo, which candidly discusses what “eco-friendly” actually means. It clarifies the difference between the terms “eco-friendly” and “sustainable,” how to avoid “greenwashing,” and how to find products that are actually environmentally safe. For the latter, the article suggests plant-based cleaners, buying recycled products and second-hand textiles and seeking minimal packaging.
For more on ways to start living a more eco-friendly lifestyle, check out Good Energy’s Ultimate 20 Step Guide to Eco Friendly Living and Green America’s 10 Ways You Can Fight Climate Change. These articles provide simple, easy ways to lower your carbon footprint without uprooting your current lifestyle, from switching to LED lightbulbs to shopping local (something we promote here at MVM) to eating less meat and insulating your home. If you’re getting tired of all of these articles, check out this important TedTalk by Hayley Higdon, who explains the benefits of living a zero-waste lifestyle as an individual.
Both of the above articles discuss an up-and-coming trend: composting (which is now written into law in Vermont.) If you’re interested in composting but don’t know where to start, check out this article and brief podcast from NPR that provides advice on composting at home.
If you’re looking to participate in helping our environment this Earth Day, visit the official website for the holiday here. For more local Earth Day events, check in with Groundwork Lawrence or the Merrimack River Watershed Council.
This week’s edition of Good Reads is a bit more serious than usual, but each of these articles are important, especially during the week of Earth Day. Let me explain …
The Air We Breathe. One in 13 people suffer from asthma in the U.S. This article from Healthline discusses why Earth Day matters to those with asthma, who depend on quality air for survival. Read more here.
Racism in Climate Anxiety. While climate anxiety is running high especially during these times of political turmoil, this article from Scientific American takes an honest look at climate anxiety, the underlying racism in the movement, and how the “white response to climate change is literally suffocating to people of color.” A very important and necessary read for this Earth Day.
On the Vaccine. After recent news about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, anxiety and uncertainty over vaccinations is on the rise. The news was frightening, and while I am in support of a vaccine, I also believe in being as educated as possible before making a decision. So, I found this helpful article from Health.com that explains how the vaccine was developed so quickly. It’s worth the read.