Investing in Our Planet for Better Health
This is our annual Earth Month issue. We hope you’ll read it and get excited about how you can make a positive impact on the planet for yourself and for others. The world is facing a climate crisis—whether we call it that or not. We see it play out daily as an ongoing extreme weather event somewhere in the world. Whether it’s devastating rainfall and flooding, extraordinary snow and ice or extreme heat and drought, the consequences are loss of life and health and the destruction of homes, jobs and livelihoods.
It’s become increasingly important for all of us to make intentional choices to protect the Earth for all our sakes. Investing in the planet, environmental sustainability, green and healthy living, sustainability—whatever you choose to call it—is therefore an enlightened and necessary self-investment. Like receiving childhood vaccinations, it protects our future health and helps ensure that we can live longer, happier, more prosperous lives.
Investing in the planet is also a moral imperative. As we’re told in the first book of the Bible, our instruction manual, God created the world and all living things in it, and then gave us humans the task of stewardship over the Earth. I interpret this as a call to care for the environment, to use natural resources wisely and responsibly, and to work toward sustainability. In fact, religious leaders and scholars have argued that caring for the Earth is not just a practical necessity, but a spiritual duty.
For example, Pope Francis has written extensively about the need for environmental stewardship and he argued that environmental degradation is a sin against God’s creation. Therefore, investing in our planet can be seen as a way of fulfilling our responsibility to care for the world that God has given us and of working toward a more sustainable future that honors the natural order of creation.
At Natural Awakenings, we are all about the intertwined concepts of green and healthy living, which share the common goal of improving the well-being of individuals and the environment. Both practices emphasize sustainability, minimizing waste and reducing our carbon footprint.
Green living prioritizes environmental sustainability. It involves making choices that are mindful of the planet’s limited resources such as cutting energy consumption, conserving water and reducing what goes into our landfills. For instance, people who embrace green living may choose to use energy-efficient appliances, take public transportation and recycle regularly. These actions all help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change and air pollution.
On the other hand, healthy living means adopting habits that promote physical and mental well-being like exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, managing stress and getting enough sleep. Healthy living is also about reducing exposure to harmful substances such as chemicals, pollutants and toxins. So people who prioritize healthy living may opt to eat organic foods, use natural cleaning products and avoid smoking or vaping. Here are some green-living practices that also promote healthy living:
· Eating organic foods: Foods grown with synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides can be harmful to our health and the Earth. By preferring organic food, we support sustainable agriculture, which helps preserve the soil and reduces water pollution.
· Using natural cleaning products: Many conventional cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can irritate the skin and respiratory system. Natural cleaning products, on the other hand, use plant-based ingredients that are safer for us and the environment.
· Walking or biking for transportation: Choosing to walk or bike instead of driving is good for the environment and good for our bodies. Regular exercise improves cardiovascular health, reduces stress and boosts mood.
· Eating a plant-based diet: A plant-based diet has numerous documented health benefits, including reduced risk of chronic illness like heart disease and cancer. It also has a lower environmental impact than a diet heavy in animal products.
There are many other ways that green living and healthy living intersect. We try to bring this relevant, actionable information to you every month in Natural Awakenings. With this issue, we delve into the health effects of toxins and share insights from local and national experts on what you can do to avoid them.
Blessings until next month,