Wellness Wednesday, 4.21.2021

Pexels - Image of Earth from Space

Is Environmental Wellness Just Taking Care of the Earth? 

Like many definitions or descriptions of wellness; you can find many right answers.  So you can fill in your own answer about environmental wellness however it fits for you.

Some would describe –

  • Environmental wellness is about the community you live in.  Does it have sidewalks, bike lanes, parks, clean drinking water, a church that matches your beliefs, a grocery store with the kind of food you grew up with, good schools, public transit, adequate emergency services, and so on?
  • Another environmental wellness perspective is about people.  Being respectful, kind and supportive of others, taking personal responsibility for your actions, working to improve your community, being involved with schools, parks, neighborhood watch, joining a city council or club.
  • The activist environmental perspective may be more of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra, which is a succinct way I hear kids talking about this.  

Earth Day began in 1970.  It was an amalgamation of ideas and causes, perhaps fueled by other political and social upheaval of the 60’s. Oil spills, Interstate Highways, air pollution, wildlife protection, organic produce, Rachel Carson’s book about pesticides, “Silent Spring.”  Perhaps your parents or grandparents can tell stories about the early Earth days?  What was their first memory of it?  According to Wikipedia, more than 20 million people poured out on the streets (New York’s Fifth avenue was closed to cars), and the first Earth Day remains the largest single day protest in human history. 

One of the idea generators and organizers of Earth Day was Denis Hayes, who went to high school with my sister-in-law (Camas, WA).  Seriously.  Here’s a great article on Earth Day beginnings.  https://time.com/5570269/earth-day-origins/

From the article: Why is Earth Day on April 22?

This whole thing was envisioned by Senator Gaylord Nelson (Wisconsin) as a campus teach-in, so it was all about making sure this would be attractive enough to the largest number of college students. . . He came from Wisconsin, which has cold winters, and he wanted to find a date late enough in the year that a teach-in wouldn’t be snowed in, but early enough that college students wouldn’t be cramming for final exams. And he wanted it to be in the middle of the week so people wouldn’t be away on weekend trips. So, he chose a Wednesday near the end of April, and that Wednesday happened to be April 22. Wednesday, candidly, is a terrible day for something other than an environmental teach-in. I live in Seattle; nine out of 10 times there’s a torrential rainstorm at that time of year.

When I teach about wellness, I try to remind us to think beyond the individual.  Our medical model for health, tends to look at personal choice.  What are YOU doing to help ___________.  If we can shift the focus to what are WE doing to benefit ____________, then we can better see how collective action or focus leads to bigger and often better ideas.  And it takes us away from blaming, which just does not feel good and is not motivating.  So how can we shift from what NOT to do, to what CAN we do?  

So choose something to ADD to your weekly, daily routine that helps the environment and its people. 

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