The health benefits of spending time in nature are massive. Some of these benefits relate to our physical health, demonstrating time outside has direct impacts on health measures such as blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. A large part of these benefits has to do with the physical activities that happen in green spaces, such as walking, hiking, team sports, and more.
Studies have shown that after being exposed to a stressful situation, viewing a nature scene or being in nature can actually help lower the physiological effects of stress such as heart rate, muscle tension, and pulse transit times. Additionally, research in prisons shows that inmates with cell windows with views of the natural world had lower rates of digestive illnesses, headaches, and had fewer sick calls overall. The stress-reducing health benefits of nature also extend to the workplace. Employees with a view of nature perceive lower levels of job stress and higher levels of job satisfaction
Humans elicit positive psychological responses to nature, which involve feelings of pleasure, sustained attention or interest, feeling a “relaxed wakefulness,” and a decrease of negative emotions such as anger and anxiety. All of these effects can be beneficial in our professional and academic environments, as well as our personal lives.
When a person is exposed to nature, the brain is better able to relieve itself of “excess” circulation (or activity) and nervous system activation is reduced, allowing us to feel relaxed and present. Additionally, experience with nature can help strengthen the activities of the right hemisphere of the brain, and help restore harmony to the brain as a whole.
After hours of sitting behind a desk or in front of a computer, it can be pretty easy to feel drained and tired. However, research has shown that exposure to nature can help promote a sense of natural fascination and curiosity, which can help increase creativity.
Viewing natural scenic areas may actually reduce the physiological effects of stress. Patients in hospitals with access to view natural scenery show increased recovery rates, had better evaluations from nurses, required fewer pain killers, and had less post-operative complications compared to those who viewed urban scenes.
When given a choice, people prefer natural environments (particularly those with natural water features, large old trees, intact vegetation, or minimal human influence) to urban ones. This period, take your friends, your loved ones, or just yourself and enjoy all the outdoor wonders of nature!
You would probably be surprised to learn that most tea bags contain up to 25% plastics. The main reason for this is that in order for the tea bags to seal up and keep their shape in hot liquid, a plastic polymer, namely polypropylene, must be added. This is usually so that the tea bag is held in a shape, which producers claim helps the tea leaves infuse better. Even though the amounts of plastic found in tea bags is minimal and vary between manufacturers it adds up to quite a bit when you look at the big picture.
Due to the plastic content, conventional tea bags cannot completely decompose. This makes them a bad option for compost material and the environment… not to mention your body.
Recent research from McGill University in Canada also found that most types of tea bags leak millions of plastic particles into our drinks not only from the sealing plastic but from the bag itself. Microplastics have widely been found in the environment, in tap and bottled waters, and in some foods. A new study has found that a single plastic teabag steeped at a brewing temperature of 95 degrees Celsius releases around 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into a single cup
Most tea bags are made of thin and permeable papers and are not biodegradable. They contain harmful chemicals. The package and material can pollute the environment significantly.
However, it is not all doom and gloom with teabags.
There are few ways to recycle tea bags, including re-soaking used tea bags. This tea-enhanced water actually provides some nutrients if you use it to water your plants. You can also break open the bag and sprinkle the wet leaves around potted plants for a similar effect.
Used tea bags can also be a great way to keep your glass and mirrors clean. Simply wipe the mirror or glass pane with a moist, used tea bag and dry with a soft cloth.
Leftover tea can even refresh your skin. Add a few used tea bags to a bowl of hot water and hold your head above the steam to moisturize your face. The same idea can be used to calm tired feet, too. Simply add the used tea bags and warm water to a soaking basin, immerse your feet, and relax.
Glitter is the icing on the cake of the craft and makeup world. Made of tiny pieces of plastic bonded with aluminum, glitters are quite charming but dangerous.
According to scientific research, glitters are hazardous to the environment; especially the world’s ocean. When washed down the drain they become a subset of marine plastic litter known as micro-plastic.
It usually takes four weeks to degrade. However, the degrading process varies and depends on the size, environment and other factors such as heat.
Most glitters do not degrade in clean water as it takes microorganisms to start the degrading process.
The safest way to dispose of these fanciful plastics is to permanently glue it to something you plan to hold on to for a long time. They should not be washed down the sink.
For a greener alternative, salt glitters (which basically involves the use of food coloring and salt) could be used as a substitute for plastic glitters.
Sanitation and hygiene are critical to health, survival and development.
Many countries are challenged in providing adequate sanitation for their entire populations, leaving people at risk for water.
Throughout the world, an estimated 2.4 billion people lack basic sanitation (more than 32% of the world’s population).
Basic sanitation is described as having access to facilities for the safe disposal of human waste (feces and urine), as well as having the ability to maintain hygienic conditions, industrial or hazardous waste management, and wastewater treatment and disposal.
The importance of sanitation and good hygiene cannot be overemphasized.
A healthy environment helps protect women and children from communicable diseases.
Around the world, over 800 children under age five die everyday from preventable diseases; diarrhea related diseases caused by lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene.
This can be combated through a healthy lifestyle and habitual sanitation.
Human activity causes environmental degradation, which is deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; destruction of ecosystems; habitat destruction; extinction of wildlife; and pollution.
The environment has an effect on people’s behavior and motivation to act.
When an environment is clean and neatly arranged, it influences the mood of people; for example: a well decorated room can bring about comfort and a relaxed state of mind. Interestingly, a bright room with so much lights, whether artificial or natural, can improve health outcomes such as depression, agitation, and sleep.
In the light of the above facts, we need keep our environment clean at all times, ensuring the cleanliness and proper aeration of our homes through any of the following habits;
Disposing our dirt properly
Weeding our environment periodically
Curbing infestation through fumigation
Habitual hand washing with soap and water; running water preferably.
It is December, just when the wind was getting chilly, with most people taking a deserved break from work to travel and be with loved ones. When the exchange of gifts becomes commonplace, it’s quite easy to overlook a few things, especially those that matter.
But, in the spirit of giving and community awareness, HUAWEI teamed up with Friends of the Environment (FOTE) to show love and care for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Abuja.
Nigeria is ranked 8th among the 9 countries in the world with the highest number of displaced persons (1.2million) and 4th in Africa, trailing DR Congo, Sudan and South Sudan.
IDPs are simply people who are on the run from home, facing, as in the case of Nigeria, multi-faceted complex and often over-lapping issues like insurgency, communal conflicts, flooding and violence between pastoralists and farmers.
These people flee from their homes in search of basic human needs, food, shelter and clothing; and they live in little colonies or camps with aid from the government, organizations and individuals.
Huawei, showing a high level of social responsibility and empathy, visited two IDP camps namely Area One IDP Camp and New Kuchingoro IDP Camp with a combined population of just a little over 4,200 persons.
The donations made to the camps comprised solar lamps in particular, food items, clothing, and sanitary pads for women.
Speaking at the handover of the items, the Huawei representative reiterated their commitment to connect with people, not just on a technological level but also on the human and humane level.
While socially responsible organizations are reaching out to help IDPs, the surface in reality has barely been scratched. The Chairman of the New Kuchingoro IDP Camp remarked with glee that this was the first time they were receiving any form of aid since 2014.
According to Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), in the first half of 2019, about 142,000 new displacements were recorded in Nigeria, 140,000 by conflict and 2,000 by disasters.
Huawei has a tradition of caring for the less privileged, and it would go a long way if other organization would set their moral compass right and take a cue from the Asian tech giants.
Friends of the Environment remains committed to advocacy for the needy in society, while ensuring the use and application of energy efficient tools and practices at home and in the workplace.
There is growing concern around the quantity of plastic waste entering the natural environment, harming wildlife and damaging ecosystems globally. It is estimated that 70% of all ocean litter is plastic. The environmental impact is so enormous that the United Nations (UN) has described it as a planetary crisis that is causing irreparable damage. In Nigeria, we see the problem growing all around us. Due to the increasing usage and indiscriminate disposal of single use plastics, we are witnessing a surge in plastic waste pollution. Lagos alone produces about 10,000 metric tonnes of waste daily, most of which end up in landfills and in waterways, exacerbating health and environmental hazards.
Tackling this plastics situation is an urgent priority which requires multi sector collaboration. Nestle is committed to working together with governments, NGOs and the other private sector and industry stakeholders to develop a circular plastic economy, where plastic is collected, recycled and reused efficiently. The company is a founding member of the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) whose mission is to build a self-sustaining recycling economy around post consumer packaging waste in other to stimulate employment, wealth creation and innovation.
L-R: Kemisola Ajasa, Regional Regulatory & Scientific Affairs, Nestlé Nigeria; Rabie Issa, Business Executive Officer, Nestlé Waters Nigeria; Mauricio Alarcón, MD/CEO, Nestlé Nigeria; Olawale Adebiyi MD Wecyclers, Bolanle Olowu, Head Business Development, Wecyclers; Victoria Uwadoka, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs Manager, Nestlé Nigeria.
In addition to this, Nestle has today, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Wecyclers, a social enterprise that helps households in low income communities capture value from their waste, to accelerate the process of recovering and recycling post-consumption plastic packaging waste in Lagos State. The agreement enables Wecyclers to extend plastics waste recovery systems to more communities through the establishment of collection points across 5 more communities. The project will also help to create 40 direct jobs for collection point operators and sorters, and empower an additional 15,000 Wecycler subscribers.
Signing of the MOU between Nestlé Nigeria and Wecyclers on Friday, 20th September 2019 at the Nestlé HO, Lagos State.
Speaking at the signing, Mr. Mauricio Alarcon, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nestle Nigeria said, “one of our ambitions at Nestle is to strive for zero environmental impact in our operations as we strive towards a waste free future. A key part of achieving this goal is to make 100% of our packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025. Another important element is our vision that none of our product packaging, including plastics, should end up in landfills or as litter in our environment, in our seas, oceans and waterways. Tackling plastic pollution is an urgent priority which requires multisector collaboration, so this MoU with Wecyclers is another step towards achieving our shared objectives of a waste-free future and building thriving communities.”
“In with the belief that producers and consumers need to change behavior and habits to manage the menace, we are taking actions with other industry members or FBRA and are also engaging our people, our consumers and business partners to play their part in tackling the plastics problem. At Nestle, we are passionate about protecting the environment where we work and take action to protect and improve it.”
Tackling plastics pollution
Mr. Olawale Adebiyi, CEO of Wecyclers said “this partnership is an avenue to extend the plastics collection and recycling process by setting up more collection sites across Lagos. We are indeed pleased to partner with Nestle to achieve our objectives of helping to create a plastics recycling ecosystem in Nigeria. We are also happy that in addition to tackling the plastics menace, the project will also help to create 40 direct jobs for collection point operators and sorters , while empowering an additional 15,000 Wecyclers subscribers.”
Centre: Olawale Adebiyi MD Wecyclers
The recycling exchange programme since it’s inception in 2018, has diverted over 400 tonnes of plastics from the landfills into productive reuse. Wecyclers will handle the construction and deployment of each recycling kiosk, with coverage areas including Ajah, Ikeja, Mushin, Lagos Island and Magodo.
Psychotherapist and philosopher Erich Fromm (1900-1980) called the longing for nature biophilia. This is people’s love for nature, for the living. The term comes from the Greek and literally means “love of life or living systems.”
After Fromm’s death, the evolutionary biologist and professor at Harvard University, Edward O. Wilson, adopted this term and introduced the “biophilia hypothesis.” Wilson spoke about the “human urge to affiliate with other forms of life,” in other words, about our connection with nature. It is a connection that has evolved over millions of years. Human beings come from nature. We evolved and interacted with nature. We should therefore be considered a part of nature, just like all other life forms. The same life force in us is also in animals and plants. We are a part of the “web of life,” as Wilson expressed it.
The biophilia effect stands for wilderness and the conception of nature, for natural beauty and aesthetics, and for breaking free and healing.
The lessons of wilderness
Scientists call what goes on in humans when they’re in the wilderness an immediate conscious experience (ICE). The main focus here is on the psychological aspects of the experience of nature and wilderness. It’s about what individuals experience personally when they come into contact with nature, about what’s going on inside, what states of consciousness they are experiencing, what new ways of thinking and seeing they develop, how they find new solutions to problems or learn to deal with physical or psychological stresses. Whatever happens in the consciousness when a human being is immersed in the wilderness, environmental psychologists call it an immediate conscious experience in nature.
On top of perceiving the physical reality of our environment with our five senses, we humans also tend to derive additional meaning from the impressions we see, hear, smell and feel. This is true for our social environment as well, which we analyze, trying to make sense of everything that goes on around us. In general, the human species is the only one on this planet that searches for so much sense and meaning in life — and in nature. We can interpret nature and find metaphors and symbols that “tell” us something. It’s a very individual process. Depending on our background or our current state of mind, reading nature can differ completely from person to person and moment to moment.
A seedling can, for example, symbolize our own desire for children, a growing business idea, or a new life plan. A mighty tree standing in a wild place, defying wind and weather, can trigger associations with steadfastness. I recently saw a perennial growing out of a sidewalk grate. It took root in a small handful of soil that had collected there, and it was in full bloom. I suddenly thought how it’s possible to make so much from so little, when there is a will. This association came to mind while I was looking at the determined perennial.
Or think of a sprouting willow tree after a clear-cutting. The tree defies its destiny, revitalizes itself even after a radical interference in life, and attempts a new beginning. It grows above and beyond the harm done. Those who are in a similar situation, wanting to leave old wounds behind and to feel revitalized, might find solidarity with this unfaltering willow and feel inspired to find new energy. The willow may be whispering, “You’re not alone. I made it. You can rise again, too.” The symbolism of a damaged, downright mutilated tree that defies its destiny and maintains its will to live is intense. It may also be relevant in cases of physical trauma — for example, if a person has to cope with a physical impairment or negative physical changes and wants to say yes to life, just as the mutilated willow does.
The value of retreating into nature
Nature offers us impressions that we can see and interpret as symbols and, at the same time, it offers us a place of retreat, where self-reflection is accessible. It thus supplies us with the material and, at the same time, the space to reflect on it. The value of the wilderness experience lies in the “being away;” that is, being elsewhere. When we get out of the usual everyday experiences and find ourselves in a completely unfamiliar, inspiring environment, we gain a little distance from our problems.
Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, environmental psychology professors at the University of Michigan, identified “being away” as one of the most important mechanisms through which our nature experience affects our psyche and gives our soul space. These conclusions came from their numerous studies with test subjects who found a retreat in nature and then reported on what the wilderness did for them. “Being away” also means having a time-out from society, escaping human civilization for a while, alone or in selected company. It represents being away from consumerism, away from the digital world, away from the expectations of others, away from the performance pressure and the corset into which modern life often squeezes us. It signifies being far away from a world in which we must constantly fit a certain image and in which we are force-fed what it means to be a “good” person, a “well-adapted” person, a “hardworking” person, or a “productive” person.
“Being away” means we are in an environment where we can be as we are. Plants, animals, mountains, rivers, the sea — they are not interested in our productivity and performance, our appearance, our paycheck, or our mental state. We can be among them and participate in the network of life, even if we are momentarily weak, lost, or bubbling over with ideas and hyperactivity. Nature does not send us utility bills. The river in the mountains does not charge us for the clear, clean water we get from it when we wander along its banks or camp there. Nature does not criticize us. “Being away” means freedom from being evaluated or judged, and escaping from pressure to fulfill someone else’s expectations of us.
“Being away” is the ideal way to experience the therapeutic biophilia effect of nature.
If you really want to reduce your carbon footprint, have fewer kids and ditch your car…!
Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community.
The most common way to reduce the carbon footprint of humans is to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse. In manufacturing this can be done by recycling the packing materials, by selling the obsolete inventory of one industry to the industry who is looking to buy unused items at lesser price to become competitive. Nothing should be disposed off into the soil, all the ferrous materials which are prone to degrade or oxidize with time should be sold as early as possible at reduced price.
This can also be done by using reusable items such as thermoses for daily coffee or plastic containers for water and other cold beverages rather than disposable ones. If that option isn’t available, it is best to properly recycle the disposable items after use. When one household recycles at least half of their household waste, they can save 1.2 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
Another easy option is to drive less. By walking or biking to the destination rather than driving, not only is a person going to save money on gas, but they will be burning less fuel and releasing fewer emissions into the atmosphere. However, if walking is not an option, one can look into carpooling or mass transportation options in their area.
Choice of diet is a major influence on a person’s carbon footprint. Animal sources of protein (especially red meat), rice (typically produced in high methane-emitting paddies), foods transported long distance and/or via fuel-inefficient transport (e.g., highly perishable produce flown long distance) and heavily processed and packaged foods are among the major contributors to a high carbon diet.
Finally, throwing food out not only adds its associated carbon emissions to a person or household’s footprint, it adds the emissions of transporting the wasted food to the garbage dump and the emissions of food decomposition, mostly in the form of the highly potent greenhouse gas, methane.
The carbon handprint movement emphasizes individual forms of carbon offsetting, like using more public transportation or planting trees in deforested regions, to reduce one’s carbon footprint and increase their “handprint.”
Furthermore, the carbon footprint in the food industry can be reduced by optimizing the supply chain. A life cycle or supply chain carbon footprint study can provide useful data which will help the business to identify critical areas for improvement and provides a focus. Such studies also demonstrate a company’s commitment to reducing carbon footprint now ahead of other competitors as well as preparing companies for potential regulation. In addition to increased market advantage and differentiation eco-efficiency can also help to reduce costs where alternative energy systems are implemented.
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash – Having fewer children, eh? In Africa? That’s a tough call.
The most significant way individuals could mitigate their own carbon footprint is to have fewer children, followed by living without a vehicle, forgoing air travel and adopting a plant-based diet.
Having one fewer pair of small human feet padding around your home can help the environment, at least those were the findings of a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Looking at 39 peer-reviewed articles and governmental reports, the researchers determined that the best way to reduce your personal carbon emissions was to have one fewer child.
In reality though, shrinking one’s carbon footprint is difficult, and conscious choices have to be made to do it.
Researchers are aware of this, advocating that textbooks shift away from advocating for the low-impact solutions, like plastic bag reduction, and put forth possible solutions that are more radical, or at the very least, will have a bigger impact.
“Though adolescents poised to establish lifelong patterns are an important target group for promoting high-impact actions, we find that ten high school science textbooks from Canada largely fail to mention [high-impact] actions (they account for 4 percent of their recommended actions), instead focusing on incremental changes with much smaller potential emissions reductions.”
Of course, high impact and low impact choices can vary depending on where a person lives, something else the study points out.
For instance, switching from a gasoline automobile to an electric car still emits the equivalent of 1.15 tonnes of CO2 a year, but this number can go up if the electricity used in your area doesn’t rely heavily on renewable sources of energy.
“We provide mean values for our recommended actions,” the researchers write, “but we do not suggest that these are firm figures universally representative of each action, but instead best estimates.”
Still, taking bigger swings to help the planet may have enough of a spillover effect to save it, the researchers believe. At least until we’ve all gone vegan and are walking everywhere.
Here’s how you can help friends and family during somber times.
Death is a part of life.
It’s a cliché. But clichés exist for a reason.
The fact is we are surrounded by dying each and every day. Every time we step out in our yard, we are seeing an abundance of life. But we’re also seeing the results of the death, decay and rebirth that is inherent in the cycles of life.
It makes intuitive sense, then, that a closer connection to nature may help us better come to terms with death and the grieving process.
That help may take many forms, and with debate still raging over whether grief should be treated as depression, any early restorative and healing interventions should be considered an important tool in preventing more severe problems from developing that may require medication.
Teaching us the facts of life (and death)
On one level, nature provides an intellectual frame of reference for death and dying — reminding us that death is a natural phenomenon that we can neither escape nor ignore. That context should not be underestimated, particularly in a culture that often seeks higher meaning in, or a reason for, a loved one’s passing.
The regenerative powers of nature
The allegorical role that the natural world plays in our grieving doesn’t just end in teaching us that death happens. Nature also provides undeniable physical evidence of another age-old cliché – life goes on.
“Being in nature one becomes aware of the infinite circle of life. There is evidence of decay, destruction and death; there are also examples of rejuvenation, restoration, and renewal. The never-ending cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth can put life and death into perspective and impart a sense of constancy after experiencing a life changing loss or a death.”
On a purely emotional level, too, nature can provide solace in grief, which at its heart is a response to the loss of someone or something to which we’ve formed a bond. Such emotional support may take the form of new bonds with animals, plants or natural landscapes — or it may involve finding comfort by visiting sites or scenery that were dear to both the deceased and the grieving party.
Nature-based solutions for general health
It shouldn’t be forgotten that nature plays a supportive role in nurturing our overall well-being and health, a key factor in helping somebody move on from grief and avoid the risks of prolonged depression.
In an article on biophilia (a posh term for our natural affinity to nature), Neil Chambers describes the growing field of research into a nature-based approach to heath care, the benefits of which include better recovery times in hospitals, improved concentration and fewer behavioral disorders in school age children, and increased emotional and mental well-being:
“Our mental and physical health is directly connected to biophilia. As a species that exists within nature, we are incredibly affected by its absence and presence. Yet, we function in cities and buildings that largely lack a connection to the environment. Studies indicate that this disconnect has caused myriad issues that we now expect to be corrected with modern medicine and drug therapy. Since the early 1980s, studies have explored how biophilia affects our physical health, and the findings are eye-opening. The act of simply reconnecting people to the natural elements brings about faster recovery rates, reduced stress, and eased symptoms of physical and mental disorders.”
How, then, can we consciously use nature to aid in the healing process? Below are a few starting points for exploration.
Explore nature-based rituals
Flowers and plants have long been a symbolic part of our rituals surround death, but there is a growing movement that seeks to create more profoundly nature-based ceremonies and processes. From woodland burials to grief walking retreats, there are a myriad of options for incorporating nature into the rituals we adopt.
Get outside more
Simply setting a routine to get out more in nature can be a great way to keep moving after the loss of a loved one. That might take the form of a regular walk you take alone, walking with friends, or even seeking out a walking group that is specifically tailored to those who are grieving, as described in this Globe and Mail story. In the video below, Maureen Hunter, a former nurse who began writing and speaking about grief after the death of her son, reflects on the importance of one of her regular walking spots:
Dyer also reminds us that simply holding images of nature in our minds, and in particular images of nature’s healing and regenerative properties, can provide a powerful inspiration to keep going when it feels like our world has been destroyed:
“Nature’s healing forces can serve as powerful recuperative images for those who have experienced a death or other significant loss. Images of the rebirth in nature can be useful as symbols for the strong internal forces, bringing hope of surviving the loss. From monumental newsworthy events to ordinary insignificant occurrences, one can witness the incredible destructive power and the amazing healing capabilities of nature…”
Start a garden
From opportunities for exercise to providing healthy food, gardening has many potential therapeutic qualities. For those who are grieving, it can also be a great way to both get motivated and to form a direct, intimate connection with the kinds of healing processes we have discussed in nature. IdeaStream reports on one community in Ohio which took this concept to a logical next level, starting a Grieving Garden with the intentional purpose of coping with an unforeseen tragedy.
There is no “right” way to experience grief, and there is no “right” way to use nature to deal with it. Each of us has our own view of nature, our own opportunities to connect with it, and our own needs in terms of our emotional and physical well-being. If you are experiencing grief, or seeking to help someone who is experiencing grief, take some time to seek out ideas, activities and rituals that work for you.