Understanding Environmental Wellness
Learning to Give Back to our Earth
The first thing that might come to your mind when you hear “Indian Streets'' could be the typical local road filled with shops on either side, cars parked here and there in an un-orderly manner, trash thrown around which causes these roads to smell and somehow a cow right in the middle of the street that is creating traffic, right?
We often do not realise this but the way our physical environment is maintained has a direct impact on our wellness. For example, if you are someone living in Delhi or has visited Delhi, you would know the extreme levels of pollution present in the environment around you. While such levels of pollution can cause serious respiratory diseases, it is equally harmful to the earth and contributes to the levels of global warming.
The things present around you- at home, at work or your neighbourhood all collectively make up your environment, which has an impact on your lifestyle and health. Of course, we cannot always choose our environment but we can always work towards making it more suitable to live in. When your environment is well kept, your environmental well-being improves.
“How does environmental wellness really affect my overall wellness?” is a very commonly asked question. To understand it, let us help you first understand the meaning of environmental wellness.
“Environmental wellness inspires us to live a lifestyle that is respectful of our surroundings. This realm encourages us to live in harmony with the Earth by taking action to protect it. Environmental well-being promotes interaction with nature and your personal environment” is how UC Davis has defined environmental wellness.
It refers to maintaining a lifestyle that promotes the relationship between humans and the earth which means minimizing activities that harm the environment and being socially responsible to protect our environment.
There are several things we do daily that affect our environment. The number of times I have seen people throw wrappers and empty packets on the road is uncountable, especially in India. Even small things like not segregating your waste into wet and dry affects the environment.
The main aspect of environmental wellness is respecting the environment and all the species in it- which includes both flora, fauna and microorganisms. I am sure you have heard of people worshipping cows and snakes or doing pooja to a tulsi plant or a specific tree. It is not only these animals or plants that have to be protected- all animals and species should be viewed equally and treated with utmost care and respect.
We should also work towards making our surroundings less dirty and make sure that we reduce certain activities like excessive use of plastic and improper segregation of waste matters to name a few.
When we become environmentally aware, we will be able to realise how even small habits that we follow on a regular basis affect your surroundings- be it at home or anywhere else. Improving your environmental wellness leads to a more balanced and holistic lifestyle.
Environment wellness and health include the following aspects:
These different aspects of environmental wellness are very dependent on each other. For example, each year, we all know how grandly and gloriously Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in India. Huge statues of Ganpati are taken for procession all over the city and at the end, they are taken to big lakes for the immersion process. An event as cultural and social as this can harm the environment to a great extent. For instance, the idols are made with chemical materials which, when immersed in the lakes, can seep into groundwater leading to water pollution. The firecrackers used during the festival also pollute the air, making it impure. This will lead to physical health problems. These may also affect many animals as well, especially street dogs. The careless use of flowers and other plants also add up to this process.
A way we can celebrate the festival and still ensure that we are being mindful of the environment is by going green. I am sure a lot of you have seen eco-friendly celebrations of the festival which has proven to reduce pollution levels to a great extent.
Not only during festivals but even in our everyday routine, we must ensure that we keep the damage to the environment very very minimal. Simple actions can lead to a big change. You can adopt a healthier lifestyle to promote environmental wellness. For example, instead of taking your car for a grocery run, take a walk and enjoy the nature around you. By doing so, you are not only contributing to your environmental wellness but also to your physical wellness. While working from home, you can make sure to switch off the electric appliances to save electricity when not being used.
Since the pandemic has started, everyone has been at home at the same time and I have started noticing the small things that really hinder my environmental wellness. This includes my sister leaving the water running for a long time and my mother not switching off the lights. Many times, I have even left the fans running for hours together. Small actions like this have the biggest impact on the environment. It is high time that we switch to a more feasible and greener lifestyle and give back to our planet.
The first step in this process is identifying small actions like switching off the lights and fans when you leave the room. Another very useful and effective practice is recycling. Environmental wellness starts from having a home that is clean, safe, healthy, hygienic, and peaceful. Unless you can afford to have an Alexa at home that can do everything for you, I suggest you take the necessary actions yourself. Start today and make your lifestyle a bit better for yourself and your environment.
Pooja- The act of Worship
Tulsi plant- Holy Basil that is considered as a sacred plant in the Indian culture