Modern technology has simplified life for many. Complicated tasks are now handed off to smart tech in order to free up more of our time, as well as make certain fields safer, cleaner, and more sustainable. But technological advances haven’t quite found a way to bring us closer to nature.
In fact, one study from eMarketer estimates that US adults spend nearly four hours on their phones each day. In the UK, CodeComputerLove puts the average screen time slightly lower, at three hours and twenty-three minutes.
All that screen time disconnects us from the natural world around us. Even so, humankind’s relationship to technology isn’t likely to budge, which begs the question of how everyday people can get closer to nature. As it turns out, long weekend camping trips aren’t the only way to get in touch with our roots.
Globally, more than four billion people live in urban areas, which means over half the world’s population will need to get creative if they want to connect with Mother Earth. With more residents turning their minds to nature, the options for convenient and meaningful ways to reconnect with our greener side are constantly expanding.
Keep reading for five simple ways to connect with Mother Nature, no matter where you live.
Celebrate Earth Day
Those inspired to take on larger projects within their community can always plan events around Earth Day. Celebrated each April, it’s one of the largest annual global events, which sees initiatives from large companies and individuals alike. Launching a project on Earth Day or setting a personal goal is one way to join millions of others in a shared cause.
Those short on resources can always lead a local cleanup to get rid of litter. Others may want to get more creative and hang up eco-conscious reminders around their area that addresses a local issue. No matter the cause, try to keep initiatives as local as possible. It’ll feel more personal, and most will be able to see concrete effects in their own neighborhood.
Plant, Grow, and Eat Herbs
Most people would love to plant, grow, and eat something right from their own backyard. Unfortunately, not many people have backyards or live in climates suitable for growing or have the time to tend to personal plots.
Herbs are a perfect solution for a diverse range of living conditions. Most come in tiny planters that don’t take up much space near a window. Herbs are also quick-growing and can be added to any dish to enliven the palette. Even better, they can fill a room with their rich aroma.
Walk in Nature Barefoot
As mentioned above, weekend-long camping trips aren’t always on the docket. However, many urban and suburban dwellers have access to local parks. Keep in mind that some parks will have areas unfit for a barefoot jaunt due to dog walks, litter, or other considerations—choose your patch of grass well!
Though simple, walking or standing barefoot on dirt or grass has a scientifically proven effect on physiology. Known in some circles as ‘grounding’, studies have found getting sole-ful with Mother Earth has positive effects on the immune system and inflammation.
Get to Know Your Neighbors
Rather than knock on the couple who lives across the hall, getting close to nature can be as simple as paying attention to animal neighbors. Even those in the most urbanized areas may find peace by connecting with the squirrel that lives in the tree out front or the family of blackbirds nesting on top of the air conditioning unit.
Even those who can’t take a jaunt in nature can still observe the natural rhythms of life. Most cities also have their own unique animal mascot. For example, New York City is home to urban hawks. Nests in major parks are labeled so that locals can observe their feathered neighbors.
Buying local is one of the easiest ways to honor Mother Earth and support the community. By buying locally, consumers are supporting less exploitative production methods (usually), as well as alleviating the mass demand for transportation.
Remember, worldwide shipping may be very convenient (and extremely necessary in certain cases), but it also accounts for two or three percent of total man-made carbon dioxide emissions, according to UCL Energy Institute. Avoid the cargo ships and support local workers.