Every year on April 22nd Earth Day is celebrated in over 190 countries. It began in 1970 in the USA with the purpose of uniting individual environment groups to collectively raise awareness of the damage that human and business behaviour was having on the environment. The movement was also intended to encourage people to take responsibility and protect our earth.
Today, Earth Day is recognised as the largest observed movement in the world, with more than one billion individuals participating – by changing their personal actions and demanding greater policy changes and initiatives to be made by governments and nations to proactively care for the environment.
There is growing awareness of the climate crisis within society, with information and conversations being provided though mainstream media and social media. However, being constantly reminded of research and data that is heavily pessimistic (and often difficult to understand) can leave people feeling helpless and scared for the future of our planet.
It has been said that news of the climate crisis has negative effects on our mental health; as we learn about the problems that we have imposed on the environment, we feel powerless and uncertain about how we could provide effective solutions.
The theme for Earth Day 2021 is ‘Restore our Earth’, focusing on innovative thinking and green emerging technologies that can be used to restore the Earth’s environment and ecosystem. The Earth Day organisation has stated that “A healthy planet is not an option – it is a necessity.”
Having a healthy mind is also not an option, but is a necessity! It is very important in supporting our health, happiness and livelihoods. However, this year has been particularly difficult, and a lot of us have struggled with our mental health, as we have been stuck inside and deprived of our normal lives and social interactions.
However, playing your part in helping to restore the earth may help to restore your mental health. Research shows that interacting with nature can help calm your mind, reduce stress and the feeling of mental fatigue. By spending more time outdoors, you can improve your creativity and ability to focus when studying because your mind will feel more relaxed and refreshed.
Ways that you could help to restore the earth include:
Volunteer in a Clean-Up event.
By getting involved in cleaning your local area, you would physically see the improvements that you are making to the environment – reducing waste and plastic pollution, this will also help to prevent harm to the wildlife. There are frequent Beach Clean-Up events in Swansea that you could participate in.
Eat a plant-based meal.
Reducing your meat and dairy consumption will reduce the demand for these goods which will help to lower your carbon footprint, conserve water, and protect animals and their habitats. Eating less processed meat and more plant-based food is very healthy for you too.
Buy a reusable water bottle.
Reusable bottles use less oil and release less carbon dioxide in production than single use plastic bottles. Disposable bottles also have the potential to leak harmful chemicals into the water, whereas reusable bottles that are BPA free don’t contain any harmful chemicals, therefore are a lot healthier. Furthermore, purchasing a reusable water bottle will save you money over time too.
Implementing manageable adjustments in your lifestyle and consumption behaviour will help in the global effort to restore the earth. Getting outdoors into nature and knowing that your actions are helping the environment could also help to restore your own mental health.