Ever see an environmental catastrophe on the news, say to yourself, “Something has to change!” and then just go back to living your life? It’s not that we’re bad people who want to destroy the planet. In fact, according to the PEW Research Center, “about three-quarters of U.S. adults (74%) say “the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.” That’s pretty awesome, right? It sounds like we’re on the right path. So why is it that so few Americans are making the obvious changes needed to positively impact our planet?
In urban meccas like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles – who, by the way, ALL make the top ten list of ‘Cities with the Biggest Carbon Footprints’ on U.S News – connecting with our planet is harder than ever. Major lifestyle changes like living waste-free, adopting a vegan diet, or only buying from sustainable brands, means we have to totally rewire our brains from how they have been programmed throughout our entire existence. A daunting task, perhaps, but not when so much is at stake.
To make a change, first one must make a decision – and stick to it. Reconfiguring our thought processes is tough, but as with all positive processes, it helps to have a connection with what we are working towards. For instance, if one wants to change their career, to say – writing – first, they might want to start reading the writings of others, or surrounding themselves with people already in that career. Before long, a connection is made and a change is set in motion.
To make changes that impact our planet means we must make a connection to Mother Earth. This can be especially difficult in places where we don’t get to witness a lot of her beauty. In the technological, fast-paced world we live in today, for some of us, spending time in nature comes low on our list of priorities. With deadlines, meetings, social functions, the online world, and the like, it’s easy to get caught up in the rigmarole of it all.
But if this is all such an effort, and most of us don’t have the time or wherewithal to make it happen, how will we ever make the changes we must in order to save our world? We need to find a way we can connect with our planet – and I mean really connect, in a positive, life-altering, mind-changing way. Because if we don’t, we will destroy this planet. We will destroy our home. And if that happens, where will we live?
Thankfully, there are some ways we can develop an environmental connection in even the most industrial of cities that will put us on the right path to becoming environmental superheroes.
Listen to Soundscapes.
An environment’s unique pattern of sounds is classified as a soundscape. Places like New York City don’t generate a ton of wildlife soundscapes far beyond the coo of pigeons – which, don’t get me wrong, can actually be really comforting. In Bermuda where I live, we have (what feels like millions of) tree frogs that only come out at night and band together to make an extremely loud symphony. Sometimes I swear they’re right beside me on my pillow. Their “whistling” has formed the soundscape of Bermuda. In fact, you can even buy it on a CD at the airport (yes, we still sell CDs here!). Some love it, some can’t stand it, but the fact of the matter is that hearing the natural noises of the outside world, inside, does indeed make one feel closer to nature.
In some parts of the world, deforestation has led to the depletion of the natural soundscape. Where birds once chirped gleefully, now only silence can be heard. Being exposed to soundscapes from certain areas of the world, like the Rainforest, can help us develop a compassion for the environment that houses these special sounds. Simply Googling ‘Soundscapes’ will yield a plethora of results. I think this collection is particular special, with sounds collected in the 1960’s.
2. Indoor Garden. There are few better feelings in the world than the one you get watching a plant sprout from a seed. If you’re a gardener then you know what I’m talking about. Growing any type of plant – flower, herb, vegetable – is a special process. Some of us may still feel that watching nature take its course is just plain ordinary: leaves die in winter and come back in spring, and there isn’t much else to it. But planting a garden or tending to a flower bed involves love, care, and an understanding of how nature works. For those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to have somewhere to plant outside, we can still reap the benefits of developing the plant-person connection inside. Indoor gardens have become popular in cities where outdoor greenery is sparse. Here is a list of 14 great ways to start an indoor garden.
3. Indoor Compost. My first experience with indoor composting was in Toronto, 9 years ago. Coming from an island where half of the population doesn’t take recycling seriously, indoor compost bins blew my mind. Wanting to fit in, I began learning about what could go in the compost and what couldn’t. This immediately struck in me a realization about what was good for the earth and what was harmful. This interest led me to take Environmental Science classes and carry out my own research about the breakdown process of different materials, which ultimately led me to eliminate purchasing plastic water bottles.
If you live in a place, like I did, where composting isn’t a “thing” yet, and there is no municipal compost collection program, use the nutrient dense compost for your indoor garden. You can find tips on how to start and indoor composter here.
Any of these methods can be used to change our minds, change our lives and ultimately change the world.
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