What’s your ecological footprint?
We don’t have to sacrifice a strong economy for a healthy environment – Dennis Weaver
I’ve spent some time discovering various aspects of my environmental health lately with my Who Are You? Discovery Book. This includes my in-home space, outdoor space, community, and my ecological footprint. I took 5 minutes to free write my answer to the following question. Give it a try and let me know what you discover!
What is my ecological footprint?
On my first European Airbnb adventure I was so delighted that the host left reusable grocery bags for me. Later I realized it’s because Europe charges for plastic bags – I love that! In USA I always opted for paper but after moving to Kuwait I become much more aware of my ecological footprint. Plastic use and waste in Kuwait is on overload. I am ashamed to say I contributed when I first moved here. It was easy to adopt a mentality of “it doesn’t matter anyway” when you see the significant amount of plastic and food waste going on. I do better now. I have a stock of reusable bags. My roommates and I have also purchased smaller reusable mesh bags for our fruits and veg. They save us from plastic and keep our stuff fresher, longer!
With 50% of food imported in Kuwait I have become more aware of my food waste and the impact that has on the environment. Some small steps I take are freezing my vegetable scraps for bone broth and soups and putting some scraps in jars with water for some amazing plant food. I try not to buy more than I can consume and I grow some of my own herbs.
Like our relationship with food, we are using as much as we can of resources rather than as much as we need. My motivation to live a minimal lifestyle has come through travel experiences and living in a place of extreme poverty and opulence. From food waste to consumerism waste it’s evident that what’s good for us is good for the environment and vice versa.
My proudest achievement in this aspect of environmental health was my urban gardening projects for the RTC (residential treatment center) youth I worked with at The Boys Town National Research hospital. This project instilled values of nutrition, a sense of belonging, and sharing for both the youth and staff. Making salsa became a favorite pass time on Saturday’s at the RTC.
I took it further when I connected the Boys Town Youth to youth of Madagascar by cultivating a partnership with Conservation Fusion, a non-profit connecting children to the environment through education and promoting conservation. This was an amazing reality check for all of us. Many of the RTC kids felt underprivileged being in a treatment center. Compare that to youth of Madagascar that have to choose between school or helping their family survive. These projects provided some much needed clarity on what privilege and responsibility really mean. Imagine never even having a mirror to face and see what you actually look like – this was reality for Madagascar youth. I urge you to ask yourself: If it’s all taken away (education, technology, material possessions, status, etc) what are you left with? What really matters?
I am nature starved.
I grew up surrounded by trees, lakes, and outdoor adventure of Minnesota. When I moved to Nebraska I filled my nature void with fitness. Looking back there were more opportunities to experience nature in Nebraska but it required more effort than I was willing to give at the time.
Living in Kuwait I am nature starved – especially in the summer months. Bouncing around from AC to AC is draining on the soul. Luckily Kuwait is a great jump spot to many parts of the world that offer an abundance of nature but I’ve found other ways to refuel. My roommates and I are all about the plant life. We have 17 in our living room and dining area. Not only do they purify your air quality, they destress your space and body. I breathe out carbon, my plants absorb it, and in return they give me the clean oxygen I need. It’s a beautiful relationship. I’ve gone as far as giving some names.
My Peace Lilies are named Brenda, Annie, and Elise – if you can connect where those names are inspired from you get bonus points! 😉 . Peace Lilies are great air purifiers.
Aloe Plants (Spike) are low maintenance and provide some great healing properties.
Snake Plants (Ju Ju) release oxygen at night unlike most plants that release it during the day – so this one creates some great balance for air quality and sleep.
I also suggest Dracaena (Aggie) for some unique beauty and detoxification.
What things do you do to connect with mother nature and reduce your impact on the environment? I’d love to hear it!
Interested in reducing your plastic use? Check out the reusable bags I love here!