Sustainable environments reduce climate impact and allow plants and animals to thrive, but they also provide ideal living conditions for people. Here are eight ways sustainability benefits the health and well-being of the human race.
1. Active Lifestyles
Increased physical activity is the greatest health benefit sustainable environments bring to the table. Living sustainably requires people to get up and move rather than have wasteful, sedentary lifestyles.
For example, people must rely less on vehicles and lean into other transportation methods to reduce air pollution. That’s why cities worldwide invest in walking and cycling paths to help residents get around. These initiatives slash emissions and encourage exercise at the same time.
Using eco-friendly building materials can have a similar effect. Reducing pollution from construction projects helps the outside environment become more hospitable. People can spend more time outdoors without worrying about exposure to unhealthy chemicals.
Commercial buildings are also going back to the basics and using more staircases instead of elevators and escalators. This simple change requires people to walk more and can significantly reduce a structure’s energy consumption.
2. Balanced Diets
Sustainable environments promote balanced diets. The agriculture industry plays the biggest role. Switching to eco-friendly farming practices that reduce land degradation and deforestation helps crops become more nutritious. Healthier soil leads to healthier diets.
Urban fruit and vegetable gardens help residents become self-sufficient while creating a more green, open environment. Instead of buying all their food from grocery stores, they can grow their own food and develop balanced diets.
3. Mental Relief
Mental health also greatly benefits from sustainable environments. Exercise is an extremely effective antidepressant, and a healthy diet helps balance people’s moods and emotions. Additionally, it’s important to remember that humans are supposed to live in natural green landscapes. Spending time in nature is a necessity. More time spent outdoors leads to emotional wellness.
Climate anxiety has been a huge indirect consequence of climate change, especially among young people. Transitioning to more sustainable environments will decrease guilt and anxiety. Mental health tends to improve when an apocalypse isn’t looming over people’s heads.
4. Social Cohesion
When a society is physically and mentally healthy, social cohesion inevitably follows. Setting long-term sustainability goals also brings people together. When everyone in a home, school or workplace shares the same attitudes about the environment, they can set aside petty differences for the greater good. Committing to sustainability gives communities a higher goal to aim for outside of selfish pursuits.
5. Clean Air
Clean air is one of the greatest benefits of sustainable environments. People spend most of their time indoors, so air quality is extremely important. They’re constantly exposed to dust, smoke, mold and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from many indoor sources. Cleaning products and artificial building materials are the biggest culprits.
Air purification helps people avoid these threats and improves respiratory systems. Minor symptoms like headaches, nausea and shortness of breath also become less common. Higher construction standards enforced by nonprofit organizations like LEED and GreenGuard limit 365 indoor VOCs and make buildings more hospitable.
6. More Sunlight
Sustainable environments rely less on artificial lighting, which increases exposure to sunlight. Sunlight has numerous physical and mental health benefits, including better sleep patterns and more controllable moods. Exposure to sunlight also helps produce serotonin, which helps balance emotions and appetites.
The introduction of energy-efficient light options such as blue-enriched light, task lighting and full-spectrum lightbulbs also mimic the effects of sunlight more closely than traditional fluorescent lights. Indoor living conditions will improve as these fixtures become more common.
7. Increased Productivity
All the efforts to increase physical activity, provide healthier food options, improve air quality and let in more sunlight lead to one shared consequence: better productivity. Students can reach their full potential in the classroom and employees are more equipped to succeed in the workplace.
Sustainable environments also lead to better economic conditions by cutting fuel costs, reducing the impact of air and water pollution, and making cities easier to navigate. These initiatives are strong driving forces of economic growth.
8. Disaster Preparedness
Sustainability also helps people become more resilient to natural disasters. The United Nations has established global disaster response guidelines that include essential initiatives such as educating residents and investing in green energy sources.
Additionally, a healthy and active population is better equipped to handle disasters than one that’s unhealthy and sedentary. Weather emergencies can’t be prevented, but the loss of life and infrastructural damage can be minimized.
Health and Sustainability Walk Hand in Hand
Sustainability isn’t a singular goal. It walks hand in hand with the health and well-being of the human race. The best possible living arrangement is a peaceful and prosperous coexistence with the Earth. The fight against climate change is far from over, but humanity has made great strides.
Rose is the managing editor of Renovated and has been writing in the home living industry for over five years. She’s most passionate about sustainable living and incorporating those habits into daily life. Her work has been featured on The National Association of Realtors, the American Society of Home Inspectors, and other reputable publications. For more from Rose, you can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to the Renovated newsletter.
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