This week on the 22nd April marks Earth Day, a globally recognised day in support of protecting our planet. Earth day has been celebrated since 1970 but as we edge into the future, it is becoming not only a more serious discussion, but a more urgent one. I am sure that globally we can agree the challenges we all face going forward, around protecting and managing our environmental impact, are without doubt the largest since conversations began. Environmental issues often end up at the bottom of agendas, purely because the consequences of our ‘convenience lifestyles’ haven’t yet grown into the catastrophic issues they may well do given time. As a human race we tend to manage issues by urgency and although science points to some serious trouble ahead, we aren’t seeing the weight of our decisions in their entirety just yet.
“Our fast lives are causing fast deterioration of not only our environment, but our hearts and minds”
This year the discussions are centred around ‘Restoring our Earth’ and that is exactly what it is, ‘Our Earth’. I read a quote online a few months ago saying “we can’t get through a single day without having an impact on the world around us”, whether its people or the environment and it really resonated with me. From recent world events it is becoming more evident that the choices of individual people are what shapes outcomes and makes history. We are all great and can achieve great things, if we individually decide to take the opportunity to do so.
Many people will take the attitude of it being up to the world leaders to put laws in place to manage large organisations and how they operate, that it isn’t down to individual people to save the planet. I would argue that individually we have a responsibility to take control of our own actions. I am not saying everyone should become an eco warrior, but I think if you try to own your own impact and take some responsibility you are already one step ahead of the game – enter Intentional Living.
Intentional Living is about taking time to consciously do things, to think about the decisions and choices you make and the impact they have. The idea of Intentional Living is about slowing down, being more involved in your life and doing things in a more meaningful way. It helps us to focus on the things that are important and we can incorporate our environmental impact into this, by being more accountable for our choices and actions.
Admittedly a shift to Intentional Living can be a big lifestyle change for many of us, perhaps not one we want. However, there are elements of Intentional Living that can help us feel happier, less stressed, and help to take some action for the planet without going all in. Here are a couple of ideas to help you to manage your environmental impact through Intentional Living.
Slowing down and guarding your time is key for practising Intentional Living. It requires you to pause the autopilot of life and to start being aware of yourself, the decisions you make and what influence they then have. Slowing down also allows you to be present with your time and think about what you are doing which leads on to the next point – mindfulness.
Practicing mindfulness in your daily life has many benefits including but not limited to feeling happier, reducing stress and helping you to feel more in control. Mindfulness is a great way to help move from the blind autopilot of daily routines and start being more present. This in turn will make your actions more meaningful and you will begin to be more intentional with your life and the decisions that you make.
Know your Intention
A lot of the time we tend to just get on with things without really ever thinking about why we are doing them or even if there is a better way to achieve the outcome. Knowing your intention is about taking stock of the why. This is particularly helpful when you are trying to be more intentional as it helps link the action with the outcome rather than blind bidding. If you want to move towards a slightly slower lifestyle with the intention of being a little kinder to the planet, keeping that intention in mind will help you to remain focused and keep you on track.
Pause the Consumption
Constant consumption is a contributing factor to many of our climate issues today. The fast lifestyles we have with high performing jobs and stressful deadlines. The constant need for holidays and stuff is overwhelming, you need only pick up your phone and you can have bought something in less than a minute. If you look around the rooms of your house you will find so many items and so much stuff and yet we continue to purchase more and more, wanting it to arrive faster and faster. The more we consume the more demand is created and in turn capacity is ramped up to meet it. Companies and the media drive up the demand using our fast lifestyles, telling us what to buy and where to get it from. The digital age has made marketing easier than it’s ever been before. There are endless outlets to tell you what you should be wearing this season, where you should holiday, what you need to like and who you should agree with.
Fast fashion, fast food, flat pack furniture…the list is endless but all these products have to be manufactured with materials sourced, logistics to move them around the globe and to deliver them to your door in record time. The impact of one purchase alone is phenomenal, now scale that up to the fact that everyone is doing it and it becomes quite a scary thought.
Fast living isn’t just detrimental to the environment, but to our hearts and minds, paying more attention to what you are consuming both digitally and physically can help not only the planet but yourself too. Remember, living intentionally is a choice to shift your mindset, to be present and to make conscious choices that reflect your core values.
The key take-away from this article is that modern life has created the environmental issues we now face, and the bigger picture isn’t limited to what world leaders decide to do. Solutions to this global issue start with you and me, what we choose and how we decide to live. Our daily routines are not set in stone, what we buy every week isn’t a choice made for us – routines are habits we can choose to change. We don’t have to live passively and we can change our impact to a positive one, it is within our gift to change what we can.
If you would like more information on Earth Day then check out the website https://www.earthday.org/