Do you ever have the desire to more deeply connect with nature? Do you often feel like you don’t have the tools to help the environment? Do you care enough to help?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, please accept a digital *applause* from me and the like-minded public.
The truth is, we often do, as people of this Earth, feel a desire to connect with nature. We want to help, but we feel like we don’t have the resources to act in a way that makes a real difference.
That’s where this list of actionable ideas and useful resources comes in. May they help turn you into an everyday steward of planet Earth. Mother Nature (and your conscience) will thank you.
1. Start your own garden, or engage with your local park.
Gardening will give you a deeper, more personal connection with nature, and it’s been shown to be a kind of therapy—really! Research out of London suggests that gardening for just 10 minutes a day can improve one’s overall mood and reduce stress. The act of following a routine, being outdoors, and completing goal-oriented tasks that produce natural rewards (i.e., fruits and vegetables) all have tremendous mental health benefits. In terms of environmental benefits, gardens help naturally filter the air, provide habitats for insects and animals, and sequester carbon. Not to mention, now that you’re retrieving certain foods right from your yard, you’re reducing your carbon footprint a bit.
As you may have guessed, similar mental and environmental benefits also occur when you visit natural parks. In engaging with your local park (even if you live in a city!), you’ll help make your area a bit greener and receive some much-needed bio-nourishment.
2. Buy secondhand.
Give this one a try: For a month or so, turn to secondhand sites whenever you’re looking for new clothing or home goods. There are plenty of perfectly useful items that get thrown out simply because people have grown tired of them. If you care about saving money, reducing waste, or bringing about change through a circular, closed-loop economy, buying secondhand is right up your alley.
I personally use TradeMade—a trade and barter app that lets you trade any items or services while showing you how much carbon you’re keeping out of the atmosphere by buying secondhand.
3. Lay off the meat for a bit.
Consider ditching the meat a couple of times a week. Eating plant-based meals can lower your carbon footprint by 2.9 kg of CO2 per day, and in the long run it could help reduce your chance of contracting heart disease and certain kinds of cancers. Get started by replacing any meat on your plate with a vegetarian protein source like beans, spinach, quinoa, or even a green protein shake whenever you can for the next month.
4. Reduce, reuse, recycle, compost.
I know, you’ve probably heard of this before, but these habits really are important. Reduce the amount of water and energy you use in your home (look for low-flow showerheads, turn off the lights when you’re not in the room, etc.); reuse things like plastic bottles, glass jars, plastic bags, old clothing for cleaning rags, and old newspapers and magazines for wrapping paper; recycle plastic bottles, containers, shampoo bottles, and cans whenever possible; compost your food scraps, newspaper, and cardboard egg cartons at your local compost house.
5. Consume consciously.
Last but certainly not least, consume consciously. Do your research and buy from brands that are doing their part to make the world a better place. I mean, after all, why would you want to buy from brands that exploit their workers and pollute?