Tomorrow is Earth Day, a date in my mind that represents renewal, rejuvenation, and new beginnings. As we focus our efforts on taking care of our planet, we can also take care of ourselves. Our earth has sustained our ancestors and ourselves for thousands of years, yet we often take advantage of its gifts. If we are not aware, we will lose this precious place that offers us bird calls in spring, crunching leaves in fall, fresh cut lawns in summer, and ice skating ponds in winter. It may surprise you to think about how little effort it requires to focus on taking care of our earth — and how that comes hand in hand with focusing on our own health.
How can you do both at once? Simple: choose to walk, bike, rollerblade, or skateboard instead of drive. Do this several times a week, and you will see changes in your own physical and mental health as well! Use recyclable bags when going shopping; re-use plastic cups and plates on a daily basis instead of discarding paper and styrofoam dinnerware. I know that you have heard all of this before and that it’s not revolutionary….but somehow we seem to overlook the importance of our earth’s wellbeing and how closely that is tied with our own. Our environment is not expendable — it will run out and perish if we do not tend to its gifts, just as our own mental health will become eroded if we do not take a break and a breath of air.
I found a couple of helpful blogs that can give further ideas for conscientious living on Earth Day and on every day. We really shouldn’t need to have a specific day ordained to remember to take care of our Earth….everyday should be earth day and for many mindful people, it is.
I know that when I am outside on a beautiful day — no matter what season it is — I can strongly feel how the smells, sounds, sights, and touch of the earth impact my own emotional state. I have written several blog posts about how rainy days and seasonal changes can affect our mental state. We also all know how energizing it is to spend a day outdoors on the cusp of spring, playing frisbee or hiking with our families, with the sun shining down on us. Or how much fun it was as a child (if you can’t remember this, check out your neighborhood children) to get a snow day from school and spend hours outside building snowmen and forts as the snowflakes blanket a quiet earth. These are a blessing, and I encourage you to be mindful when you are interacting with the earth.
How else does taking care of our earth also take care of our selves? When we are drawn outside by the gifts of spring, summer, or fall, we are interacting with our planet and with each other. Our earth encourages us to work together and to form bonds with fellow humans (and with animals too!). You may be a gardener who find peace in tilling your garden. Join a gardening club, go to plant sales, and chat with neighbors about gardening tips – activities that will strengthen your garden’s vibrancy as well as spark your own creative juices. You may love to engage in outdoor sports and look forward to running on the creek trail with your dog on crisp spring mornings. As you take in the beauty of the flowing stream, think about also stopping to pick up any pieces of trash that you see along your path. One of the most fun and endearing earth-saving trends that I have noticed in my area is the introduction of the B-cycle program. Bike stations have sprouted all around Denver recently, and for only a few bucks you can rent a cruiser bike for a day and check out the diverse and colorful neighborhoods that our beautiful city has to offer!
It’s not challenging to take care of our earth, but it does require some thought and initiative. It helps to do it together. This week and weekend, many groups around Denver are coming together to plant trees, flowers, and to clean up the earth in honor of this day of recognition. Think about something that you can do — from something simple such as bringing your own cup to the coffee shop, to something more involved such as cleaning up a local park. Our earth is generous with its gifts and beauty — and we need it to survive. It offers us healthful fruit, vegetables and grains that nourish our bodies and beautiful flowers that color our gardens and homes. This bounty not only feeds our stomachs but feeds our souls and it is our duty to give back to our miraculous planet!