Environment – The Crumbling Cookie
Environmental Wellness is perhaps the most overlooked dimension of wellness. We tend to ignore this dimension because the impact of an ailing environment is not immediate. It takes place subtly, drawn over a long period of time. However, the impact is long lasting and hugely devastating.
When we talk about environment, we are talking about Macro and Micro Environment
- Macro Environment which relates to the planet – the nature, the climate; and
- Micro Environment, which is our immediate personal surroundings.
Our relationship with the environment must be at both levels. Our direct interaction with the micro environment, which has a direct bearing on us, needs to be strengthened and improved first as that is what extrapolates to improve the macro environment.
While macro environmental wellness may not personally affect directly, its impact on the overall wellness is undeniably large. We live in the environment where we strive to attain overall wellness and an unhealthy environment can definitely not promote overall wellness. For instance, unclean, unhygienic personal surroundings can lead to illness affecting your physical wellness, feeling miserable (emotional Wellness), restricting your interaction with others (social wellness), leading to medical expenses (financial wellness).
What does ‘Environmental Wellness’ cover?
Environmental Wellness encompasses a harmonious relationship with our planet by being able to understand the impact of your interaction with the micro and macro environments and taking appropriate actions to
- Protect the world around you;
- Protect yourself from environmental perils; and
- Reducing the negative impacts of your own behavior with relation to the environment.
It is an undeniable fact that the world that we live in is facing an environmental crisis because of multiple reasons. The planet is warming globally and that is resulting in massive permanent changes which will one day prove catastrophic. Global warming is resulting in changing weather patterns, increased number of devastating natural calamities like hurricanes/cyclones, tornadoes, melting polar ice and rising sea levels, droughts, higher temperatures, etc.
Some of the other environmental problems that face our planet are:
Pollution of air, water and soil on account of poisonous gases and other toxins released in the environment by vehicles, factories, combustion of fossil fuels, oil spills, and other industrial wastes.
Natural Resource Depletion on account of increasing world population. More mouths to feed need more resources which is becoming a major problem in less developed and developing countries.
Waste Disposal is another environmental concern for the world. Mega tons of garbage being dumped into the oceans; nuclear waste disposal, plastics and cheap electronic waste proposal presents tremendous health hazards.
Rapid Deforestation due to growing food and shelter demand affects the levels of oxygen production and carbon dioxide reduction. Forests also contribute towards regulation of temperature and rainfall which gets affected by the process of deforestation.
Depleting Ozone Layer, the invisible layer of protection around our planet is depleting on account of the toxic CFC which create a hole in the layer, thereby letting the damaging UV rays of the Sun reach our earth
A close look at all these crises reveals that each of them is a creation of we humans. Our desires to lead a comfortable lifestyle with technological advancement but not bothering to tackle the negative impacts of such advancements is what is putting us and more so our next generations in the position of facing drastic environmental disasters.
Keeping the environment healthy
While it is true that the environment degradation is taking place at a rapid pace, it is not too late to start caring for and take corrective steps to arrest this rapid downfall. The need of the hour is to, individually and severally, become aware of your responsibilities towards the environment and take appropriate actions to carry out these responsibilities, effectively.
To start with, you need to ensure that you lead a lifestyle which respects the environment as well as all those who are its inhabitants. In every situation, we have more than one option and we have to choose the best one. Make sure that your choice aligns with your environmental goals.
For example, if you have to cover a short distance from point A to point B and if you are not rushed for time, choose to walk instead of driving out or taking a cab. Not only does it save you gas, it saves the air from pollutants that your car or a cab emits as well as adds to your daily physical activity.
Here are a few steps that you can take to improve your relationship with the environment healthy and Improve its wellness:
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Known as ‘Three Rs’ of waste management or the ‘Waste Hierarchy’, guides people to cut down on waste that we throw away and conserve natural resources, landfill space and energy. Reduce waste generation by cutting down purchases of things that you don’t need. Give preference to NEED and do not give in to GREED; Reuse items in a way that is different from the way it was used originally and is not required again. A good way to achieve this is to donate your clothes that you are fed up of wearing but are in good condition. There are many people who are in need of clothing but cannot afford to buy; Use products that have been or can be recycled. Say no to plastic shopping bags, instead use bags made from recycled material.
Conserve: Don’t let the water flow by keeping the faucet running while you are shaving or brushing teeth; Take bucket bath instead of a shower; turn off the electrical equipment when you are not using them. Conserve water and energy and cut down on your expenses, too.
Stop Pollution: What can we do to stop pollution? Cut down on usage of cars. Try to cover short distances on foot; for longer distances try car-pool. Do not dump your garbage in water bodies or even in drains which are meant to carry storm water; Do not use chemical fertilizers in your gardens/farms, use biodegradable waste to form compost and use it as fertilizer.
Spread Awareness: While living a lifestyle of conservation and fostering Environmental Wellness, it is crucial to spread the environmental awareness within the community you live in. Educating others about the need to improve the environment by following simple steps to adapt to the lifestyle that needs to be adopted is a positive step to improve the micro and macro environment.
It is imperative to be aware of the importance of Environmental Wellness as a dimension that has a tremendous impact on the overall wellness. More so in the present times when the world is facing an environmental emergency. The need of the hour is to not only make sincere efforts to adopt measures to improve environmental wellness but also spread the word around you so that others become aware of the measures they need to take. This will ensure a concerted effort for the betterment of the environment we live in and we will be able to live a better life as well as leave a legacy for our next generations which they will thank us for.