Living green often seems like an extreme practice. After all, it can be very inconvenient. And everyone has watched one or two TLC specials featuring cooky-looking folks who make salads out of greens that they find at the local park, or go to amazingly creative (and off-putting) lengths to reduce the water used for toilets and showers. And everyone knows someone who takes healthy and sustainable living to an extreme and has a kitchen stocked solely with plant-based protein powder and chia seeds.
However, “going green” has also gained a lot of popularity in the last couple decades. Gradually, we’re learning that new technology doesn’t always have the answers that we need. Sometimes, the best way to move forward is to take a step that looks, at first, like a step backwards in time.
Movies, shows, and books featuring a dystopian future often show the disasters that can befall us if we don’t stem the flow of destruction and acquisitive greed that drives us to crush the natural ecosystems that we should be a part of.
The loss of of precious species from our earth, of clean air and open spaces, of a healthy ocean… all of these are starting to make dramatic impact to each and every individual in the world, and therefore, it’s time to really look at green living as something that we should all be doing, instead of something that only a few people on the fringes of society are concerned about.
Here are some of the powerful benefits of green living:
We Have a Brighter Future
Countries that have the highest and best recycling rates and programs are actually recycling double the percentage of waste that the U.S. does. People in the United States make up about 5% of the population, and yet we produce about 30% of the world’s garbage. This article explains more about how much of our possible recyclables go to waste each year, and what we can do to change that.
Although it seems that we have plenty of room to dump our waste for now, the truth is that the disposal problem is about a lot more than room. For one thing, garbage dumps directly impact wildlife, causing health problems in scavengers and destroying habitats. This endangers species that once thrived in America. For another, the actual process of decomposition has a major impact on our environment. Landfills release huge amounts of methane (which has a greenhouse effect up to 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide) each day.
Even with recent developments and legislation attempting to cut back on the amount of waste that we produce, the numbers are astronomical, and the waste we produce grows exponentially every year, making it impossible to predict how long it will take us to run out of room and/or hurt our environment irreparably. Furthermore, our waste is getting more and more hardy, with many of our landfills dominated by plastics and others synthetic materials that don’t break down.
In order to preserve our future, we need to think about how the things we do today will impact the world in the long run.
We’re Happier and Healthier
Now that we’ve taken a look at the reasons behind greener living, it’s time to look at the immediate benefits of changing your life to reduce your footprint.
The truth is that green spaces are essential for human mental health. Numerous studies have found that individuals blockaded by concrete in cities have higher rates of stress, depression, conflict, and crime. Green spaces have a direct psychological effect on us. Not only does it affect mental health, but it can also make us smarter. As this article says, studies have found that spending time in green spaces can make you better at solving cognitive puzzles and finding creative solutions to problems. Green spaces even have a direct impact on our physical health, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
There’s another aspect to green living that can powerfully impact our health and happiness. A more holistic-style healing is gaining popularity as people learn that solutions for many physical ills can be found in healthy eating and natural resources like plants. Modern medicine is a marvel, but there are some things that have been time-tested over centuries or so, with better success rates than modern techniques, and without the compounded side effects that come with a lot of synthesized medications. In areas where modern medicine doesn’t produce any solutions, more and more people are turning to traditional medicines to meet their needs. Often, these methods claim to not just manage the condition, but solve it by empowering the body to heal itself, as this article claims. We’re especially seeing people turn to this area in conditions that modern medicine doesn’t provide satisfactory answers for, like chronic pain, gastrointestinal distress, and even addiction.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Huge
In order to make a big difference in the environment, you don’t have to go to extremes. There are a million small things you can do each day to help. Ride your bike more often for errands, or for your professional commute if you live close enough. Bring your own bag to the grocery store. Vow to eschew plastic water bottles, and pick cardboard egg cartons and milk cartons instead of plastic. Support legislation that empowers businesses to be more sustainable.
What are some things that you do to save the earth? Share below.