WORLD EARTH DAY 2021: RESTORING THE EARTH WHILE RESTORING OUR OWN BALANCE
The theme for World Earth Day 2021 is Restore our Earth. When nature is unbalanced, nothing in it functions properly. It's the same for each person. When the different aspects that make us who we are, are unbalanced, we can't live productive and fulfilling lives. Something will always feel amiss.
The same kind of relationship exists between us and nature. Luckily, you can use everyday activities to rebalance and restore the environment, ourselves, and the relationship between the two.
Before we look at how we can restore this balance, let's look at the impact of Earth Day on the future of our planet.
WHAT IS EARTH DAY?
In 1970 Denis Hayes, a young activist, organised a teaching session at a local campus on 22 April 1970. Hayes then began to promote events nationally across the country. Earth Day 1970 inspired 20 million Americans to go out and publicly demonstrate against the impacts of 150 years of industrial development. This environmental movement led to the creation of many laws in the United States, such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
The first Earth Day in 1990 brought 200 million people in 141 countries together for the planet. This brought environmental issues and global warming to the world's attention and formed the Earth Day Network. Earth Day serves as a yearly reminder to the world, to rethink our ways and change our behaviour. Now on 22 April each year, more than 1 billion people in 192 countries participate in Earth Day activities to celebrate the planet we call home.
WHY EARTH DAY IS IMPORTANT
Earth Day 2021 marks the second year of the global pandemic. Now, more than ever before, the importance of Earth day can be seen as we're experiencing the far-reaching effect of humankind on the planet.
Change needs to take place on several levels, including individually. As individuals we can action real change. This may start with one idea or person, and when you multiply your initiative with the voices and actions of hundreds or thousands or even millions of others, you can start a movement.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead
HOW TO RESTORE OUR EARTH, WHILE RESTORING OUR OWN BALANCE
Self-care is becoming increasingly important to help us cope with everyday stresses and live fulfilling and productive lives. There are seven types of self-care you should embrace to feel your best in all areas of your life: emotional, physical, mental, social, spiritual, practical and professional self-care. All of these, influence the other in some way. Here are ways you can both restore nature, while restoring balance within yourself using the seven types of self-care:
The ability to regulate your emotions and healthily process them is something that you can learn. This is incredibly important for your overall health. Examples of self-care activities to address your emotional needs include practising gratitude. In fact, it has been scientifically-proven that gratitude is linked to pro-environmental actions. Research has found that gratitude has an effect on your perceived responsibility to future generations.
Meditation, especially in nature, helps to lower stress and remind you that you're a cog in a much larger machine. A few minutes of meditation every day can help calm your mind and shift your perspective to a more considerate existence - not only towards yourself but also to the environment.
You might often think of physical self-care when you hear the words self-care. These are any activities you deliberately engage in and join to enhance your physical well-being. This includes opting to use conscious products and support brands that make sustainability a priority throughout their production and supply chains. You could also start 'plogging'. This combines the health benefits of jogging in the clean air, with the environmental benefits of picking up trash - known as plogging.
Eating a plant-based diet is not only better for your health, but it's also better for the environment. Conventional livestock farming practices are not sustainable. You don't have to become a vegan per se but start by including 'Meatless Mondays' into your routine or try switching to ethical farms, which focus on cultivating biodiversity and regenerative agriculture.
This means actively helping yourself to maintain a positive state of mind. Some activities that can boost your mental health, while benefiting the environment are; listening to sustainable podcasts or reading about earth's history and climate change. Reading helps you to switch off from the electronic world, lessen screen-time and actively engage your mind. You could also try a new hobby, such as gardening, caring for plants in your apartment or even creating your own compost from food waste.
As social beings, us humans need to regularly engage in activities to promote our relationships with others. Although alone-time is necessary, you need social interaction to stay healthy and balanced. If you want to be social while bettering the environment you could plan clean-ups with friends and family. Individual and small group cleanups can have a major positive impact on your community. For us to make a global change, we must have local action.
Friends can be furry too, by adopting a pet from your local animal shelter. Adopting rather than buying pedigree or bred animals helps reduce the environmental demands of overpopulation. If you don't want a pet, you could sponsor endangered species from the World Animal Foundation. You could also arrange teach-ins to teach children about the benefits of composting and help them start a veggie garden at their school. The same could work for a larger community, bringing everyone together to restore mother Earth.
This type of self-care encompasses any activities you engage in to connect with and nurture your soul. An example, which we have touched on in other types of self-care, include practising yoga. The word “yoga” comes from the ancient Sanskrit word “Yuji”, which means union. This union of the mind, body, spirit and nature can not only help you to rebalance, but also help you to restore and unite with the planet.You could volunteer for a cause you care about. It's selfless to support a cause by offering your own time, and selflessness in humans is something the environment benefits from greatly. You gain perspective and replace greed with gratefulness.
Even mundane, everyday activities can be considered self-care. This helps fulfil our core needs and create a sense of calm and control in our lives. You could try prepping your meals. This will save your time in the long run and also benefits the environment, because you will buy less food less regularly, waste less and eat healthier. Try a foodprint calculator to find out exactly how your meals impact the planet.
Also change your paper bills to online billing. This helps you manage the physical clutter in your life, while saving paper and therefore trees. As well as the fuel to deliver the letter and the ink (made from fossil fuels) used to print it. You can also donate to The Canopy Project today to help save forests.
Lastly, whether you are employed or self-employed, you need to include professional self-care in your life. These are the actions that support feeling balanced and fulfilled in your career. You could start by organising your email inbox. You probably didn't think keeping a tidy email inbox could benefit the environment, but it can. Every old email stored in your inbox uses energy. Decluttering your inbox will reduce your electricity consumption and shrink your carbon footprint.
Make your office environmentally friendly by using reusable utensils on your lunch break, instead of plastic ones. Alternatively, you could bring in your own reusable coffee cup and ensure you have a recycling bin near your printer, so that any paper waste is always recycled.
You have so much power to better your life, but also to improve the environment and restore the planet. Take care of yourself. Take care of our planet. Celebrate earthday everyday.