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Environmental issues can be intimidating. Topics like natural resource depletion, climate change, landfill waste and water contamination are often presented with a side of “fire and brimstone,” making concepts like sustainability seem negative and inaccessible. However, taking responsibility for your part in the global ecosystem can be much simpler through mindfulness.

Making a practice of mindfulness, the process of being more present and aware of your thinking and emotions, is one of the best things you can do for the planet (and for your own well-being). In a fast-paced culture that values convenience, this is easier said than done. But making an effort to tune in and connect with your day-to-day experiences can help you be more effective as a steward for the environment. Here’s why:

1. Increased productivity can reduce your carbon footprint

One of the reasons convenience has become so important to us as consumers is because of the increasing demands on our time as individuals. In the workplace, in the classroom and at home, we are expected to wear many hats and “do more.”

Mindfulness helps us get better clarity on what’s actually important and what we have the ability to do, resulting in increased productivity and a better use of our time and resources. This may translate to a reduction in carbon emissions from less time spent driving, less food waste due to better budgeting, and more time freed to learn about energy saving best practices for the home.

Photo by Guus Baggermans
2. Thoughtful decision making may lead to more sustainable purchasing habits

The culture of convenience trains us to look for things outside of ourselves (i.e. products and services) to solve problems. In the food industry, for example, pre-chopped produce, organic smoothie pouches, recipe and meal delivery services and healthy snack subscriptions solve the problem of obtaining quality foods at the sacrifice of convenience, but what these items also have in common are excessive packaging and the cost and environmental impacts associated with transportation and shipping.

Being conscious of what’s happening inside your head while shopping is key to making a personal connection to your purchases, making good investments and becoming comfortable with coming face to face with the ethics of the manufacturers and producers your items come from.

Photo by Liana Mikah
3. Decluttering your mind can help you find solutions for physical clutter

Creating a routine around letting go is part of the mindfulness practice that can manifest externally in the form of decluttering. Doing away with what no longer serves you also applies to your possessions, which can make you feel blocked or stuck if they are not functional to your life. Getting organized requires getting rid of the items you no longer want or need in your space, and that means disposing of them in some way.

While no longer valuable to you, all items have some sort of value, whether it be in function or material composition. Instead of simply throwing your discarded items in the trash, try bringing them to a thrift store, giving them to friends or relatives or donating them to Goodwill; for items that can’t find a home or are unusable, TerraCycle’s customizable Zero Waste Box solution feeds back into the value system.

4. Taking in your surroundings creates a greater investment in the environment

Mindfulness is a heightened way of observing oneself and your surroundings. Part of that is also paying attention to your relationship with your environment and the effect each party has on one another. Practicing a moment-by-moment awareness of your body and what surrounds takes all of your senses.

Stop and smell the roses—literally. Slowing down to take stock of what you have as an individual and as a member of the global community is necessary to understand the great impacts our day-to-day actions and inactions can have on the environment. It is this understanding that translates a moral obligation to a true calling as a steward of the earth, moving through the world with your highest potential of influence and impact. / Issue 196 - September 2018
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