Healthy, Sustainable, Holidays

By Melanie Stewart

For the last two weeks we have talked about the connection between health and sustainability, both from a community perspective, as well as a personal one.

We didn’t have time in the last article to talk about consumption and stress…and what better time to talk about that than the holiday season?!?

So much of the holidays are focused on ‘things’ and subsequently the time it takes to shop for, transport, and wrap, those things.  They can create a lot of waste; manufacturing, packaging, shipping, driving to the store, wrapping, and using, all while the useful life of items seems to be decreasing.  For a quick look at this process, check out the “Story of Stuff”.

Instead, consider giving experiences (zoo membership, sporting even tickets, etc.) instead of physical items that will be used and/or forgotten. If you are looking for additional ways to save money, time, and reduce waste, read this.

Regardless of how you celebrate, you likely have more to do during this time of year.  Don’t forget to take time to reduce stress.  Exercise, yoga, and meditation are all great ways to reduce stress, and it can actually help you be more sustainable and meet your personal wellbeing goals.

One of the topics being brought up more frequently is mindfulness.  This is often associated with meditation, but doesn’t have to be.  While there are many variations on the definition, the Foundation for a Mindful Society broadly defines it as something every human already possesses: “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”   That sounds good, right? (and almost anti-holiday!?!)

Mindfulness resources:

The basics.

Guide to getting started.

(Some of) the science and research of mindfulness

Side note, it takes practice, especially if you are accustomed to multitasking.  Don’t get frustrated; practice makes perfect.

So what does stress reduction/mindfulness have to do with sustainability?  Being mindful, that fully present awareness, means we make better choices because we are choosing things purposefully, not mindlessly or because of emotion.  This can reduce consumption, everything from that impulse-buy to your 3rd piece of pie.  Reduced consumption decreases waste/helps the environment, saves your money for the things you actually need, and most importantly can keep you healthier.


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