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Building your resilience battery and saving the planet
How many times have I been honked at on my bike during rush-hour traffic? Too many to count.
I used to get angry, now I chuckle. Typically, they are honking because they must wait 30 seconds to get around me. Here is what slips the mind of the honker: if more people were on their bikes, they would actually get to work or home faster. Pretty simple concept but it seems, in the moment, people can only focus on the 30 seconds needed for them to wait to go around a bike. Plus, that person on the bike is helping the environment which is important to most Canadians. So next time keep this in mind when you must wait a few extra seconds to get around.
Here is another factoid: that person is being healthier and is less likely to clog up the health-care system, which is struggling. Every city I have been in, from Halifax, Gander and Saint John, to Fredericton and Charlottetown, everyone talks about the traffic. A supportive environment is what will keep that person on their bike, rather than clogging up the streets with more traffic.
There is a strong movement in the U.S. and Canada on climate change. Some feel it is the issue of our time. Communities and individuals are being asked to step up and make a difference – not drastic changes to your life, but little things that can be done daily. The idea is, a lot of little things add up.
Check out the “green new deal” coming from our friends south of the border which is bigger and bolder than ever before. It is asking for massive change starting right away. It may be unattainable from what I hear from the pundits, but why is it wrong to have big aspirations?
Our planet is resilient, but just like us it has a breaking point and the science seems to be telling us it is getting close to that. You can piece it together right here in The Chronicle Herald. The constant flooding in New Brunswick, the crazy ice and rain in Saint John, the record low temperatures in Newfoundland and the record heat last summer in Nova Scotia is front page news.
I spent time thinking about how an individual can make a difference and, at the same time, increase their resilience. First, doing something good for the environment should put a smile on your face, make you feel good about making a difference. It might be something you want to add to your journal to remind yourself that you are stepping outside your own immediate needs and doing something for your fellow human and for the next generations. That can give you a boost in the run of your day.
Active commuting is great for the environment. Biking is only one option. Using a commuter parking area and busing in to the city might be an option. Try parking farther away from your place of work and walking the rest, rather than sitting in an idling vehicle for 30 or 40 minutes. I know in many cities it might be cheaper and make more sense. It will decrease your stress and frustration levels as well. You could even do some mindful walking to have an additive effect. Over a year that could equal more than 200 hours of less idling and, at the same time, 200 hours of physical activity. In Halifax, for example, you could park at the shopping centre and walk to one of the universities faster than driving most mornings.
One of the biggest contributors to climate change is food waste. The food system uses so much energy and natural resources, while creating tons of pollution. When I was in New Zealand, I learned there is a major issue from cow, sheep and deer farts. It accounts for 60 per cent of the emission pollution.
We need to be more conscious of over buying. One way we have addressed that in our household is to shop more often and plan our meals. This has eliminated a lot of waste. There are weeks the green bin does not even need to go out. The awesome side effect is that we are planning our meals. The big benefit of planning meals, outside of being part of the environment solution, is people make healthier choices when they do this. Think about encouraging your local corner store to carry more meal-oriented foods, rather than just snack food. You can walk up and get what you need. Create a group in your neighbourhood who support this. Be part of positive change.
So now we can walk to the “grocery” store a couple of times a week and buy just what we need. We can put these first two strategies together.
Next is lower the temperature and turn off the lights after 8 p.m. This increases your quality of rest as most people sleep better in a cooler environment. It might also encourage you to head off to bed earlier because we all know we should be getting more than eight hours a night. Also, with the lights off, you can get to sleep faster, stay asleep longer and use less energy, all leading to a higher resilience battery. Sleep is probably the most important recovery tool for our physical and mental health.
I know people want to make a difference – now the question is, are you ready? What did you do today or what are you doing today to make a difference? Can you see the value in making change to help the environment?
This is one of the only times living in the moment does not have a positive effect. Think of the next generation who must clean up after us. Think of the stress we are putting on them, how hard we are making it to sustain their resilience, as it is left to them to figure it all out.
Darren Steeves is the owner of VenduraWellness.com, a company dedicated to improving organizational health one step at a time.