Climate change, extreme weather, water and soil contamination, food quality and availability, energy, transport and waste, air quality, and noise pollution — these concerns of the modern age are all inextricably linked, and they are all factors that contribute to your overall wellbeing. At the same time, the choices you make in your life, from where you shop to whether you recycle or not, have a direct effect on your surroundings and the environment.
The environmental dimension
You can consider the environment from different perspectives, with the biggest being our planet as a whole. It’s a good idea to keep oneself informed on environmental matters, like the state of biodiversity, overpopulation and waste management, and climate change, all of which affect your present and shape your future.
Then there’s the regional perspective: the country and city or town where you live. This is connected to your daily activities as well: where you work, places you shop and visit, modes of transport you choose, or how much you recycle.
Finally, there’s your home. It’s the place where you probably spend most of your time, and it needs to be a place of comfort, a place where you feel at ease.
Connecting with the three environments
What measures can you take to lessen your impact or to slow down the negative changes that ripple beyond your home?
- Do your research and keep yourself informed. Be aware of the world in which you live; this will help you make informed decisions about your life that will have a positive outcome, both short term and long term. Look up environmental matters so you know what measures you can take, and what habits you can acquire or change to do your part.
- Say goodbye (for good) to single-use products, including plastic bags when at the grocery store. Bring your own tote bags whenever you go shopping, and remember to wash them often (especially if you carry fresh products).
- When possible, choose smaller stores that sustain your city’s or town’s economy, and opt for organic products that are sold by local farmers or producers. The importance of this cannot be understated, as it allows the money you make to flow back into and benefit your own community.
- The three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Reduce what is produced and what is consumed. Think about whether you really need to buy what you’re thinking about buying, or if it can be replaced by something you already own (that can be altered to fit a new purpose, if necessary).
Reuse and repurpose things you already own, or buy secondhand. And those things you no longer want or need? Don’t just throw them away, donate them! Someone else may give them a new home.
Recycle everything you can. There are more places where you can take your plastic, glass, paper and cardboard products, cans, bottles, batteries, electronics, and biowaste. Recycling at home and looking for the appropriate disposal bins aren’t the only options; some supermarkets or stores also offer credit exchange for bottles or cans.
How does the environment affect us?
Are you aware of the impact your environment has on your life? At the largest scale, one can think about pollution and climate change as the two biggest factors. Just as they can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle, the choices you make can slow down or stop (and in some instances, even undo) the negative effects of human activity on the environment.
If you opt for taking public transportation (or even better, riding a bicycle) instead of driving a car or taking a taxi, you are reducing the amount of fumes released into the atmosphere. You can also be cautious of how much water you use — while around 70% of the world is covered in water, only 2.5% of this is fresh water. Turn off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth, try to wash as many clothes and linens as possible at the same time instead of running the laundry machine with a light load. Do a bit of research about where you’re living; find out whether droughts or storms are the norm and how you can try to mitigate (or benefit from) the effects of the weather.
It’s important to be mindful of what you’re buying and consuming. Choosing smaller producers helps the local economy, which can potentially lead to higher investments into local green energy, better maintenance of parks, and an overall healthier and environment.
Our environment impacts us, and we, in turn, impact it. By starting with small habits, you can cause positive ripples that go beyond your own home, enabling you to make a difference on a larger scale. At the same time, you can live in an environment where you feel comfortable, with limited visual and noise pollution, a place that is just right for you and truly feels like home.