You heard me correctly — love your planet, love yourself, and vice-versa.
Hello Free People blog reader! It’s your long lost friend, Carlen. I hope you’ve been well since I last wrote a few articles for you back in 2016… A lot has happened since I reviewed that all-natural pubic hair oil (remember?) but that’s all for another time. The more important news is … Hey, guess what day it is today? (Did the title of this article give it away?) Happy Earth Day!
Today as I was buying organic celery juice to make my daily morning celery juice (watch this video to see why this salty, stalky unassuming vegetable has become a staple of my morning routine and quest for energy and health), I thought about the very odd fact that supermarkets usually curate a very small “Organic/Health Food” section, whereas the rest of the supermarket displays absolutely no signage regarding health. Zero, zip, zilch, nothing! Considering the dizzying array of tempting and colorfully packaged products in most supermarkets, what does a “Health Food” section say about the rest of the supermarket? Does that mean the rest of it is an unspoken “Unhealthy” zone, as if Health is some sort of “optional luxury” and something we can ignore? And speaking of which, why are the prices in the Health Food/Organic section so much higher than the other aisles? It might as well be called the “Wealth Food” instead of Health Food, am I right, people ?! But hang in there — don’t ever give up hope, my friends, it IS possible to eat healthfully on a budget! In the long run, remember that taking care of your health (physical, mental and spiritual) is the most worthwhile investment you can make (and in case you needed this reminder, you deserve to feel wonderful on this planet and follow your dreams). Yes, I am talking to YOU.
When I began thinking about Earth Day and what I hoped to share with you, I realized this annual celebration is weirdly similar to this “Health Food” section phenomena. Although of course “something is better than nothing” and “every journey begins with one step” and blah blah blah, (you get where I am going with this…) by declaring Earth Day as a solitary holiday that just comes and goes just like Groundhog’s Day or National Peanut Butter Day (yes, really), and not a never-ending celebration of this incredible planet we’re on 365 days of the year (sharing it all with our favorite pets, current crushes, and these insanely magical flowers which are currently alive, on the very same planet as where you are reading this already long article…), it silently sends the message that our Earth’s health is usually considered an afterthought instead of the fun, achievable, and urgent necessity it really is.
The great news is, taking care of ourselves and taking care of the planet are inextricably linked. When we take actions to help ourselves, we also help the planet and vice versa! The expression “as above so below” never really meant anything to me until I made the mind-blowing connection that literally EVERYTHING that is helpful to our planet is actually just as helpful to our quality of life. Hooray! We don’t have to compromise our happiness in order to be a “good person” — in fact, taking care of our planet is a win-win.
Take, for example, organic food. All monetary costs aside, studies show that consuming organic fruits, vegetables and other crops may be better for the planet AND our health, including our happiness. (Note: Organic junk food is not included in this study…sorry, weird vegetable puff chip things with an organic label!) It’s been found that levels of heavy metals (such as mercury, lead, aluminum and cadmium) in organic food appear significantly less in quantity than in conventional and GMO crops. These heavy metals have been linked to anxiety and depression. In a real way, making organic food a priority may literally help contribute to your happiness from a physiological standpoint, not just moral.
Another example? Our daily coffee fix. When we forget to bring our re-usable mugs out on our daily java/matcha/dandelion tea run, it might feel like just an environmental “oopsy daisy” but it is actually an equally “oopsy daisy” for our bodies and brains. Why? Most coffee shops serve their “to-go” coffee and teas in either plastic cups or paper cups lined with a type of toxic chemical called BPA. The chemicals compound BPA has been linked to a whole lot of health issues such as increased risk for obesity, hyperactivity, and cancer. We might think we are being sneaky and selfish and forgetting our reusable bottles but in the end, we are actually harming ourselves. (P.S. This collapsible water bottle from Que is a great replacement to those coffee cups…or equally, save money and plastic by making your own coffee at home using this French Press from YIELD!)
Want to know another example? Gardening. Even if we don’t all have access to empty fields within walking distance, studies show that when we get our hands in the dirt and plant seeds, even in a park or community garden (or windowsill flower box), we are helping Mother Earth by encouraging plants to grow, which adds oxygen back into the atmosphere, feeding pollinators (and perhaps even ourselves), but equally exciting (and regardless of your gardening skills), touching soil has been linked to higher levels of happiness! DIRT IS GOOD FOR US AND THE PLANET! (And way more fun!) On a similar note, using antibacterial soap might seem like a well-intentioned way to protect our health but, in the long run, soap and water is best for our body’s and planet Earth’s ability to protect us from sickness and bacteria.
One last example? Buying quality over quantity. From beauty products to clothing to food to home goods, anytime a product seems too “good” (er…cheap) to be true in terms of price, it usually means it is. When products are mysteriously fast or cheap, it usually means the manufacturer is cutting corners that are felt by either the planet (toxic ingredients/environmental pollution) or the worker (poor working conditions) which, if clearly revealed to us on the price tag, wouldn’t seem like such a great deal after all… What I am saying is that no shopping website or store advertisement is ever going to explicitly say “HEY FOLKS, STEP RIGHT UP! GET YOUR CHEAP FURNITURE/CLOTHING/(insert any product here) HERE ! MADE IN ENTIRELY UNSUSTAINABLE CONDITIONS! COME ENJOY THE WEIRD LINGERING SMELL, THE FLAMMABILITY AND YEARS OF TOXIC CHEMICAL OFF-GASSING AND MYSTERY HEALTH ISSUES THIS PRODUCT WILL PROVIDE FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY FOR YEARS TO COME AND/OR UNTIL YOU GET BORED WITH IT IN A FEW WEEKS, FREE OF CHARGE!”) Hopefully you get my point…
Of course, just like organic food, buying sustainable products comes with a higher price tag, which means you may find it more difficult to buy as many items. But again, this may be a blessing in disguise, considering the popularity of minimalism and Marie Kondo’s “The Magical Art of Tidying Up” which suggest that having less things but only keeping things you love may take discipline, but will “spark (way more) joy” for both ourselves and our planet than a life of constant buying…
By no means am I implying that I am a perfect, tote-bag armed eco-warrior goddess with a permanent flower crown halo over my head that never wilts, nor am I saying you need to be either (P.S. totebags are not without their faults, either!) but, like all things in life, we are striving for progress, not perfection. What I AM saying is that when we have the option to do something good for our planet, we don’t need to feel like we have to choose between the planet and ourselves. It truly is for our Highest Good to do what’s right for our planet (and not just because we feel like a “good person” when we remember our metal straw). The actions we take to show love for our planet always helps show us love for ourselves. In case anyone needed to hear this, this is your official wakeup call to love yourself enough to take care of yourself and our planet. You are an important part of this planet. Now go stand in the mirror and hug yourself (and then that tree outside). Your body, mind, soul, wallet, planet and future generations will thank you later.
Lead image by Kara Northcut.