Sustainable living and how it affects our wellbeing
Sustainable living, at its core, involves considering how our actions affect the environment around us and doing what we can to reduce our impact on the planet.
While the environmental impact of sustainable living is clear though, what you might not have realised is that sustainable living can also help to improve our own mental and physiological health.
There are clear links between sustainable living and our health and wellness – here are some of the ways that our own wellbeing can be enhanced by living a more sustainable lifestyle:
Sustainable practises can not only benefit the environment but also our own physical health. For example, if you choose to walk or cycle rather than travel by car, you will not only be reducing the amount of pollution that goes into the atmosphere around you, but you’ll be increasing your own fitness levels in the process – having a positive impact on your carbon footprint and improving your physical health go side-by-side.
Of course, not everyone is able to walk or cycle. You may be situated too far from your end destination or your health may not permit you to travel in this way. If this is the case there are still other ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint and increase your own physical wellbeing at the same time. One of these is to start looking at your eating habits in more depth. Plant-based foods have a much lower carbon footprint than animal-based foods, so by filling up on nutritious fruits and vegetables as part of a more vegetarian focused diet you’ll not only be supporting the environment but you’ll be consuming foods rich in the minerals, vitamins and proteins that your body needs.
Working towards a sustainable lifestyle requires effort on a large social scale. You may find yourself sharing information and ideas with friends and family, volunteering and building connections in your local community. As you meet like-minded people with similar goals and interests your social circle and support network will naturally increase.
Most of us will feel or experience stress at some point and studies have shown that one of the best ways to deal with stress is to get in touch with nature.1 By maintaining the quality of our surrounding environment through sustainable living we’re ensuring that this nature is there for us to enjoy. You might choose to go on a country bike ride or enjoy a walk through the woods. You could even just take a picnic to a field and sit in the warm summer breeze. Why not consider camping for your next holiday? This too is a great way to truly experience nature at its best, with no reliance on electric, hotels, televisions or cars.
Environmental wellbeing involves being mindful and focused on the space surrounding you. It could be your work, home, school, or on a wider scale, the planet. Consider how your environment has an impact on your physical and mental health. Is there clutter in your environment that is gathering dust and causing you anxiety? Research has shown that clutter can cause stress, anxiety and distress.2 Tidying up can literally result in a more healthy mental state. Many people who are trying to live a more sustainable life have also chosen to live a more minimalist lifestyle. By making choices to purchase only what you need you’ll be in a better position to enjoy a decluttered, stress-free environment.
When it comes to sustainable living, ignorance is not bliss. By educating ourselves on the impact of our actions we’re able to more proactively lead a sustainable life. Putting in time and effort to read articles on sustainability will help promote your intellectual wellbeing. It will help you learn how to make informed decisions on a community and individual level and how to make changes that are positive for the environment around you. Some ways to make an impact through living more sustainably have been made easy for us, such as community recycling, and we just need to educate ourselves on using them.
One of the most stressful things in life is worrying about money. Fortunately, many sustainable behaviours can help save you money. For example, making small changes in your home by fixing a leaky tap or placing draught excluders under the doors to reduce the need to have your heating on as much can save you money on your electric bills.
A huge part of sustainable living also involves not buying everything new. The obvious example would be clothes. Rather than going shopping every time you’d like a new outfit, you can see what is available in charity shops or could ask a friend to borrow some of their clothes. Another great way to have an impact is by reducing the amount of plastic you throw away. Before going out try to remember to fill a water bottle and take it with you so that you don’t have to buy a drink. This not only reduces the amount of plastic wastage, but also helps your pocket as you won’t need to spend as much on something basic like keeping hydrated.
Sustainable living can be applied to all of our lifestyle, as much or as little as we are comfortable with. While it might not feel like your individual actions will have much of an impact, if everyone makes even one small change, the wide-scale impact will be huge.