Sustainability and Personal Wellbeing

By Melanie Stewart

Last week we talked about the connection between sustainability and healthcare—why Nebraska Medicine & UNMC spend time on sustainability.  As some of you have noted, “That’s great, but what about me?”

Last week I had the privilege of being a panelist at WELLCOM’s symposium on sustainability and wellness.  We spent most of the day talking about just that.

First, sustainability involves safety, health, and welfare for individuals, and is a one of the seven dimensions of wellness and part of EMPOWER your wellbeing.

Second, sustainability does not have to be something that is an add-on…it’s not necessarily something extra you have to do.

When we discuss sustainability it’s very easy to imagine a non-sustainable world and future, and it’s not too pretty.  Instead, imagine a sustainable future. What does that look like for you and your family?

If I was going to guess, the picture that just popped into your head makes you smile.  You are likely to be in a place that makes you happy, doing something you enjoy, with the people you love.  The people you picture are likely happy too; not ill, suffering, or stressed, and the backdrop is probably clean…most of us don’t picture trash blowing down the street, or smog.

When you make decisions, keep that vision in mind.  Don’t get that confused with perfection or start to compare to others–your picture of a sustainable future is yours.  You can make intentional decisions that can help you reach that picture in your head, and in doing so, you are likely making healthy and sustainable choices.

For example, in order to be healthy you may be trying to eat more veggies and drink more water;  healthy for you and the environment.  You may be trying to reduce indoor toxins by cleaning with fewer chemicals, or saving gas by running errands all at once; again, better for you and the environment.   Recycling prevents toxins from entering the water we drink; using active transportation increases activity and reduces pollution; using less plastic reduces crude oil drilling… the list goes on.

Making a healthy choice for yourself almost always leads to a more sustainable future.  Feel good about the steps you have already taken and gradually add more.  That picture in your head is a great place to start, why not strive to achieve it?


photo credit:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *