Swift executive action toward mitigating climate change and other urgent environment issues is making the news, and for good reason. Solving ecological problems requires a massive effort that goes far beyond planet-friendly practices at the individual and workplace level.
But wellness, healthcare, and sustainability professionals are in a prime position to make a meaningful dent, maybe even sparking a ripple effect. Getting your population fired up — and offering practical ways to have an impact — can lead to deeper community involvement and change for good on a larger scale.
If you’re not already integrating environment, ecology, and conservation components into your wellness programming, now is a great time to start. Earth Day is April 22, with a theme of Restore Our Earth. There’s plenty of time to launch at least 1 initiative to inform and inspire action — not just on Earth Day, but year-round.
The push to electrify everything offers opportunities to foster interest and more climate-conscious choices. Share positive news about large-scale solutions gaining momentum:
- The US Energy Information Administration reports that electricity from clean, renewable sources (wind, hydroelectric, solar, geothermal) is climbing and coal use is decreasing. Transitions like this help reduce health burdens related to fine particulate matter.
- Community solar is expanding; 40 US states currently have at least 1 program up and running. These initiatives make access to solar power more affordable and equitable.
- Electric car batteries are on a fast track to higher efficiency. StoreDot recently announced production of lithium-ion car batteries that fully charge in 5 minutes, plus a goal of a 100-mile charge available by 2025.
You also can combine sustainability news and resources with wellness program communications. Offer tips, for example, on how to support clean electricity development. Consumers can get involved in many ways:
- Participating in green power programs through utility providers
- Contacting elected officials to support legislation and funding for low-carbon footprint transportation, such as electric mass transit
- Swapping out fossil fuel-based heating systems, water heaters, and major appliances when upgrading or remodeling.
Personal and Community Health
Illustrate how everyday choices, low-impact living, and personal/community well-being are connected with clear examples like these:
- Plant-based diets are linked to better mental and physical health1,2,3 along with prevention and management of chronic conditions.4,5 Eating less meat and other animal-based food reduces the toll of agriculture on water supply, forested land, ecosystems, and climate.6
- Active commuting (biking or walking) decreases carbon emissions and augments physical and mental condition. Using public transportation increases physical activity, too;7 both reduce fuel and parking costs.
- Spending time in nature offers remarkable benefits: improved heart health, relaxation, and mood;8 enhanced self-esteem9 and body image;10 and higher overall levels of well-being.11,12,13
Building Sustainability Habits/Mindset
Using what we know about behavior change can make green living more appealing, convenient, and actionable while endorsing habits that help protect natural resources and all life on the planet.
For a simple, streamlined way to integrate Earth-first habits with well-being or environmental programs, check out Sustain — a new campaign from HES that promotes eco-friendly living. Sustain allows participants to personalize their experience by:
- Choosing activities most useful or meaningful to them
- Reinforcing their progress with a fun, motivating theme.
Within a few weeks, your participants learn skills to live in a way that’s gentler on the planet while enhancing appreciation and affinity to nature.
A healthy planet — with a livable climate, clean air, and safe water — is imperative for people and all living things to thrive. That’s why sustainability is a vital dimension of any workplace wellness program.
Solving America’s Solar Inequality Starts in the Neighborhood — Bloomberg Green (2020)
The Drawdown Review: Climate Solutions for a New Decade — Project Drawdown (2020)
1. Kim H, Caulfield L, Garcia-Larsen V, et al, Plant‐Based Diets Are Associated With a Lower Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular Disease Mortality, and All‐Cause Mortality in a General Population of Middle‐Aged Adults, Journal of the American Heart Association (2019)
2. Satija A, Bhupathiraju S, Spiegelman D, et al, Healthful and Unhealthful Plant-Based Diets and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in U.S. Adults, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 70( 4) (2017)
3. Schulze M, Martínez-González M, Fung T, Lichtenstein A, Forouhi N, Food based dietary patterns and chronic disease prevention, British Medical Journal, 361:k2396 (2018)
4. Toumpanakis A, Turnbull T, Alba-Barba I, Effectiveness of plant-based diets in promoting well-being in the management of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review, BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, 6:e000534 (2018)
5. Rose S, Strombom A, A Comprehensive Review of the Prevention and Treatment of Heart Disease with a Plant-Based Diet, Journal of Cardiology & Cardiovascular Therapy, 12(5): 555847 (2018)
6. Springmann M, Charles H, Godfray J, Rayner M, Scarborough P, Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113 (15) 4146-4151 (2016)
7. Saelens BE, et al, Relation Between Higher Physical Activity and Public Transit Use, American Journal of Public Health, 104(5), 854-859 (2014)
8. Farrow MR, Washburn K, A Review of Field Experiments on the Effect of Forest Bathing on Anxiety and Heart Rate Variability, Global Advances in Health and Medicine, Volume 8: 1-7 (2019)
9. Barton J, Pretty J, What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health?, Environmental Science & Technology, 44, 3947-3955 (2010)
10. Swami V, Barron D, Furnham A, Exposure to natural environments, and photographs of natural environments, promotes more positive body image, Body Image, Volume 24, 82-94 (2018)
11. Robbins J, Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health, Yale Environment 360 (January 2020)
12. White MP, Alcock I, Grellier J, et al, Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and well-being, Scientific Reports, 9, 7730 (2019)
13. Martin L, White MP, et al, Nature contact, nature connectedness and associations with health, wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviours, Journal of Environmental Psychology, 1-56 (2020)
Well-being consultant, educator, writer ｜National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach ｜ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist ｜Lifestyle medicine advocate ｜25+ years in wellness ｜Jazz enthusiast.