By Viniece Jennings / For The Conversation
When many people think of New Year’s resolutions, they brainstorm ways to improve themselves for the year ahead. What if those resolutions were expanded to include goals that benefit our communities, society, and the planet?
Although it might not be the most common approach, it can help you to see other ways you can be of service to others.
Here are four popular New Year’s resolutions with a twist for improving your relationship with nature in 2022 and beyond.
1. You should be more aware of how your actions affect the environment.
Each person has an environmental ethics that describes how they value, manage and ultimately relate in some way to nature. Balancing the scales of reciprocity between us and nature — how much we give and take — can improve this relationship in many ways. Whether it’s our addiction to one-use plastics that pile up in landfills or fossil fuels that warm the planet, a mishandled relationship with nature is not doing us or the Earth any favors.
We can all take greater responsibility for how we contribute to environmental problems in 2022. We can also encourage governments, businesses, and other organizations to make it easier to protect the environment for people with different socioeconomic backgrounds. This includes making it affordable for recycled goods and making reliable public transportation available.
Check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s resourcesThese are some of the easiest ways to reduce waste at your home, work, community, and holidays. You can save energy by turning off or disengaging lights during the day, recycling packaging materials, and using online billing services to bill your bills.
2. Reduce the burden of social injustice. It also harms nature.
Social injustice can have a negative impact on many aspects of society. Inequality and racism can lead to health disparities and have negative effects on the natural environment.
Recent research has shown that redlining and residential segregation lead to inequal access to nature, excessive pollution, and biodiversity loss. These practices led to the construction of highways and industries that have a negative impact on environmental quality in communities that are marginalized. They also left communities with fewer parks and trees, which provide cooling in summer and help the planet.
Perpetuating social ills, such as systemic racism and inequitable allocation of resources, is detrimental to the environment and marginalized people as well as society as a total.
Your voice can help turn the tide in your community. Join groups that work to protect the environment and promote social justice. To urge Congress and your local leaders to act, call your state and city representatives. Refer to the Green 2.0 report’s section on making diversity initiatives successful for concrete ways that you can actualize this in your place of work.
3. Learn new things about nature and how to minimize harm to the environment.
Clean air, clean water, and healthy soil are vital for our survival. However, research has shown that many people lack basic knowledge about environmental and health literacy in order to protect their health.
Learn more about your environmental impact in 2022. Read more and start exploring ways to preserve the integrity of your area’s natural resources. For example, you can find out where to stay informed about local land-use decisions which impact the environment and your entire community.
Local educators can be supported and encouraged to incorporate the environment into their lessons. Many other subjects are interrelated with environmental issues, including history and health. This website contains a framework and materials to assist educators in helping students increase their environmental literacy.
It can help increase awareness by staying connected to media that discuss the latest research. You might also consider incorporating environmental knowledge and facts into your team-building and game night activities.
4. Spend more time outdoors with your family and friends.
Studies show that spending time outdoors, including in urban green spaces can improve your relationship to nature and others.
Social cohesion can be increased by spending time in nature. Many people found the outdoors a way to relax and reduce stress during the pandemic. Spending more time outdoors can increase social interaction that benefits health, buffer emotional distress, encourages use of these spaces, and can help them to be better prepared for the future.
The National Recreation and Park Association provides toolsThese best practices will help you improve parks and recreation close to your home. Also, Atlantic assembled a panelTo outline ways to make outdoor environments more inclusive of families from diverse communities.
Collectively, we can be better stewards for the planet by thinking about our relationship to nature and finding ways that we can protect it.
Viniece Jennings works as an assistant professor in public health at Agnes Scott College. This article has been republished from The ConversationUnder Creative Commons license