Taking care of our planet one footprint at a time
Our well-being is intrinsically connected to the wellness of our environment. The environmental dimension of wellness reminds us to take care of the earth so it can take care of us. Being more conscious of our footprint impact on our personal environment will naturally extend out to earth’s environmental wellness. With this, Earth Day will be upon us on April 22 reminding us to be healthy stewards of our planet. Despite the media coverage of climate change, pollution, ongoing deforestation, toxic spills, and so on, many of us might think these challenges facing our planet are bigger than we are. Additionally, it may not seem relevant unless it is directly affecting us, making environmental wellness easy to push off into the future. Sometimes when we do choose to start making conscious environmental changes they fall to the side, much like New Year’s resolutions. How can we make sustainable changes to contribute toward a sustainable earth?
Remember the ripple effect
The ripple effect has been mentioned before in a SEVEN article and it holds merit to taking care of our planet as well. It’s a fact of cause and effect. The positive impact becomes greater and greater over the course of time if individually we each make environmentally supportive choices. Reducing the individual carbon footprint multiplies and becomes a collective effort toward a more sustainable planet. The key is integrating realistic environmental changes into our lives. Below is a list of environmental changes to put into action.
Fifteen ways to make a difference
- Put a soda can in the recyclables, saving roughly three hours of energy necessary to run a television.
- Turn off the water when brushing your teeth, saving about five gallons of water each time.
- Avoid any skin exfoliators with plastic microbeads, which harms the water supply, fish, and wildlife.
- Make a switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, which uses about 75 percent less energy.
- Ditch the plastic and use a dry pasta stick (fettuccine style) to stir your coffee.
- Replace paper napkins with cloth napkins, helping to avert the destruction of 34 million trees.
- Place glass in recyclables, which avoids the over one million years glass takes to decompose.
- Ride your bike more often, which reduces about a pound of CO2 per mile.
- Use washable packable containers for lunches instead of plastic bags.
- Use reusable grocery bags and reduce the landfills of plastic bags and the energy it requires to recycle them.
- Use fuel conserving driving techniques.
- Maintain your vehicle with tune-ups, which reduces polluting emissions.
- Buy a drying rack or a clothesline to reduce your electrical load.
- Donate unwanted clothing or items so they don’t end up in the landfill.
- Turn off the lights when you leave a room, or install a sensor so you don’t have to think about it.
All change starts with one step. Once you’ve mastered the first small change, add another. By 2019 Earth Day you may find you have transformed into an environmental steward and Mama Earth as well as future generations will thank you for that. Check out the resources below for more information in helping you create an environmental ripple effect.
- Bring it Back to Normal, Community Service, April 14
- Visit Illinois State’s Sustainability Fair, April 23
- Sustainability Pledge
- The Ecology Action Center
- Start Your Own Student Project
- Living Green on Campus
- Reggie Rides Free Bike Check Out Program
- Bike Share Program
- Ways to Improving Earth Health
- Carbon Footprint Calculator
- Where do you stand in your environmental wellness? Find out by taking the environmental assessment.
- Visit and join our Facebook page.
Challenge yourself to make YOU a priority! SEVEN is a free program from Health Promotion and Wellness for students, faculty, and staff that focuses on the importance of the seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and vocational. SEVEN runs from September to the end of April, and you can join at any time. Participants log wellness activities to earn points toward monthly prize drawings and compete toward overall point totals. Participants also receive the SEVEN e-newsletter and information on campus wellness events.
For additional details and to sign up, visit Wellness.IllinoisState.edu/Seven.