In recognition of the global protests for leaders to take climate action, today we highlight environmental wellness as a key aspect of our overall wellness. As physicians, we offer an important perspective on how climate affects health of our patients and us.
Signs of Good Environmental Wellness
· You are aware of the limits of the earth’s natural resources
· You conserve energy (i.e., Shutting off unused lights)
· You recycle paper, cans, and glass as much as possible
· You enjoy, appreciate, and spend time outside in natural settings
· You do not pollute the air, water or earth if you can avoid doing so
· You avoid second-hand smoke
Tips to Improve Environmental Wellness
Environmental wellness is an awareness of the precarious state of the earth and the effects of your daily habits on the physical environment. It is maintaining a way of life that maximizes harmony with the earth and minimizes harm to the environment. It includes being involved in socially responsible activities to protect the environment.
· Stop your junk mail Americans receive almost 4 million tons of junk mail every year. If one million people stopped their junk mail, we could save up to 1.5 million trees a year. About 44 percent of junk mail is never even opened or read. Contact the major senders of junk mail saying “take me off your list.” Try stopjunk.com or privatecitizen.com
· Snip your six-pack rings Six-pack holders are virtually invisible underwater, so marine animals can’t avoid them. Seagulls sometimes strangle themselves by catching one loop around their neck while another loop gets snagged on a stationary object. Before you toss six-pack holders into the garbage, snip each circle with a pair of scissors. When you’re on the beach, pick up any six-pack rings you find, snip them, and put them in a trash can.
· Don’t leave your water running Washing dishes with the tap running can use an average of 30 gallons of water. A running faucet uses three to five gallons of water per minute. As much as five gallons of water is wasted if you leave the tap on while brushing your teeth. If you wash your car at home using an ordinary hose, you can use up to 150 gallons of water. When brushing your teeth, wet and rinse your brush only. A half gallon of water will be used as opposed to five to nine gallons. When washing dishes by hand, fill up a basin of water instead of letting your water run. When washing your car, either take it to a self-service car wash, or use a shut-off nozzle on your hose when washing it a home. This can save more than 100 gallons of water.
· Use recycled paper bags when shopping Plastic shopping bags are not biodegradable. The bags never disappear in the earth; they just break into small pieces. Plastic bags that wind up in the ocean can kill marine life that swallow or get tangled in them. “Recyclable” paper bag does not mean recycled. If a bag does not say recycled, it’s probably made from virgin paper. First, consider if you really need a bag before taking one – especially if your purchase is small. Also, bring your own cloth bags when you shop, or reuse old bags that you have already saved.
There are groups specifically focused on roles physicians can play such as the Physicians for Social Responsibility which has a branch in Philadelphia and with which you can get involved. https://www.psr.org/
And additional resources from the National Institute of Health.