The one thing that transcends nationality, job description, interests, and beliefs is that we are all part of the natural world. Nature gives rise to all life, and forms an often overlooked part of our happiness and wellbeing.
A widely experienced challenge today is a perceived disconnect with the natural world. It’s as if we have forgotten that we are all part of nature, and that returning to it is essential for experiencing the simple joy of living.
Mindfulness of the natural world is also an essential part of addressing the destruction we are inflicting upon our planet. As we develop a genuine love for the natural world, we are more likely to take the proactive steps necessary to protect it.
Connecting with nature starts with things like stopping to appreciate awe-inspiring views or landscapes; feeling the rush of getting active outdoors; or retreating to a garden, forest, or park for quiet contemplation. Whether you love the feeling of soft sand beneath your toes; jumping into a crystal-clear lake; or simply sitting beneath a tree, fostering a relationship with nature is simple, easy, and free.
The step that will naturally follow on from spending time in nature is wanting to nurture it as an extension of yourself and all that you love. Here are some simple ways to start doing just this, in all areas of your life…
Separate your rubbish
Almost everything picked up by your local municipality ends up in a landfill, where it will still be leaching chemicals into the environment for generations to come. Minimising your contribution to the problem is as simple as separating your rubbish into recyclable and non-recyclable waste. You can even call your local recycler to find out if they will collect your sorted rubbish. Every trash can makes a difference!
Use organic personal and home care products
Make sure that you aren’t greenwashed by words like ‘natural’ and images of nature on packaging. Buy your essentials from specialist outlets that include environmental care as a central tenet of their business…and make sure that there is official organic certification on the product.
Use CFL light bulbs, and dispose of them properly
If you haven’t yet changed your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescents, now’s the time to do so! It’s also important to dispose of them properly due to things like the small amounts of mercury they contain. The good news is that most shopping centres or supermarkets have CFL recycling/disposal boxes to make it as easy as possible for you to do the responsible thing with your old bulbs.
Drip-dry your clothes
South Africa is one of the sunniest places on the planet, so let’s make the most of it! One of the simplest ways to use solar power is to just use the sunlight directly. Your tumble dryer is one of the most power-intensive appliances in your home, so your electricity bill will thank you, too.
Unplug your electronic devices each night
Even when things like your laptop are switched off, they can still draw power. Taking a moment to unplug things at night can also protect you against power surges, and saves a noticeable amount of power over time.
Put a brick in your cistern to save water
An oldie but a goodie! It’s simple, really – the brick takes up space, so you save that amount of water every time you flush the loo. Genius!
Clean and defrost your freezer regularly
This one was news to us! By allowing ice to build up around the edges of your freezer, you are decreasing the efficiency of the cooling unit and forcing it to work much harder. Who would’ve thought…
Leave enough space in your fridge to allow for efficient cooling
Another one we wouldn’t have thought of! The more spread out the items in your fridge, the more efficiently it’s cooled, which ultimately saves power.
WITH YOUR LOVED ONES
Introduce your kids to nature
Coaxing the little ones away from their devices and into the great outdoors is wonderful not only for their mental health and family bonding, but also for instilling in them a reverence for and desire to protect the earth as they grow into responsible adults.
Celebrate world days
Environment Day, Earth Day, Water Day, Habitat Day, Arbour Day…there are so many opportunities to celebrate the natural world and get involved in local earth advocacy initiatives.
Create a daily checklist
This is a great way for families or friends to keep each other accountable. Include things like taking reusable bags to the store; buying local, organic produce; switching off your appliances; and sorting your rubbish. Small steps go a long way when practised every day!
Print double sided
Another simple fix that we’re prone to overlooking! Placing a recycling box next to printers for those inevitable mistakes is also helpful.
In our post-pandemic world, so many of us are able to work from home for at least a day or two a week. The cumulative effect of all of us driving into work less often is significant!
Carpool with colleagues
For the days when you do need to go into the office, doing so with colleagues can be great for both your carbon footprint and team cohesion.
Pack healthy lunch and snacks
This is good for the environment as well as your health. Healthy food like fresh fruit, nuts, or crudites is less processed, generally comes in less packaging, and is – ideally – locally sourced.