Being environmentally attuned is a two-way street. Enjoying nature and living in a clean environment with adequate sunlight, clean air, having low levels of noise pollution and toxic substances benefits our health. But it is also important to give back to the environment by minimising our impact on it.
The world’s top five meat and dairy corporations may now be responsible for more annual greenhouse gas emissions than Exxon, Shell or BP (Grain 2018). The latest figures show that humanity’s footprint was the equivalent of 1.69 earths in 2014, with Australia using the resources of 4.09 planets, the United Kingdom 2.85 and the US 4.97 planets (GFN 2018).
Our environment has a huge effect on our health and wellbeing, some of which include the risk of developing chronic disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, (Twohig-Bennet & Jones A 2018) and mental health (James et al. 2016).
What is good for our health is also good for the environment (Tilman & Clark 2014).
You would imagine our society to to be more mindful or responsible with how we treat our environment, but unfortunately the current statistics are not good (WWF 2018).
Our negative footprint has increased by 140% from 1961-2010 and expected to increase more.
Before 1970, our planet had biocapacity reserves to spare, after this we have been in biological deficit.
Our natural world is in danger as society has passed the safe operating levels of much of our planets key natural processes e.g. nitrogen cycle, biodiversity (Rockstrom et al. 2009).
Our disregard for our environment is changing our climate and expecting to have devastating effects on allergies, mosquito and tick-borne disease, chronic diseases like diabetes, premature deaths (Bhargava 2017) and suicide rates (Burke et al. 2018).
There are also many chemicals in our food and the environment that can have detrimental effects on our health and the health of the planet e.g. Bisphenol A (BPA) (Chen et al. 2016), phthalates (Warner & Flaws 2018), used to make plastics and pesticides in agriculture (Mostafalou 2013, Gasnier et al. 2009, IARC 2018).
Eat more whole plant foods and replace animal protein with plant protein (Stehfest et al. 2009, AustGov 2015, Lucas & Horton 2019, Willett et al. 2019)
Determine your ecological footprint at https://www.footprintnetwork.org/ then practice environmentally conscious behaviours.
Recycle and conserve energy.
Immerse yourself in nature.
Natural sunlight (Stothard et al. 2017); nature’s fresh air (WHO 2019); walk barefoot on green grass or beach grounding) (Oschman et al. 2015).
Encourage your local ecosystem to thrive by growing your own fresh produce and build a community garden.
Join the movement and be environmentally attuned.
AustGov 2015. Guideline 2 recommends we enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five groups every day. National Health and Medical Research Council/Department of Health, australian Government. Accessed 09/04/2019. https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups
Bhargava H. Climate change is a public health issue. Medscape. June 6 2017.
Burke M, Gonzalez F, Baylis P, Heft-Neil S, Baysan C, Basu S, Hsiang S. Higher temperatures increase suicide rates in the United States and Mexico. Nature Climate Change. 2018; 8: 723-29.
Chen D, Kannan K, Tan H, Zheng Z, Feng Y, Wu Y, Widelka M. Bisphenol Analogues Other Than BPA: Environmental Occurrence,Human Exposure, and ToxicityA Review. Environmental Science and Technology. 2016; 50: 5438-53. DOI:10.1021/acs.est.5b05387
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GFN. 2018. Country trends. Global Footprint Network. http://data.footprintnetwork.org/#/countryTrends?cn=10&type=earth
Global Forest Watch. 2019. Accessed 27/03/2019. https://www.globalforestwatch.org/dashboards/global?modalMeta=eyJtZXRha2V5IjoiIiwibWV0YVdoaXRlbGlzdCI6W10sInRhYmxlV2hpdGVsaXN0IjpbXSwiY2l0YXRpb24iOiIifQ%3D%3D
Grain. 2018. Emissions impossible: How big meat and dairy are heating up the planet Accessed 27/03/18 https://www.grain.org/article/entries/5976-emissions-impossible-how-big-meat-and-dairy-are-heating-up-the-planet