Wellness + Sustainability

The Global Wellness Institute describes wellness as "the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health." Wellness isn't something that happens to us, it is a state of being created by our actions and that is linked to holistic health. Holistic health "extends beyond physical health and incorporates many different dimensions that should work in harmony" ("What is Wellness?") . One exciting aspect of living more sustainably is that our associated actions lead to our wellbeing and that of others. 

Wellness is about more than just physical health. Most models of wellness include at least 6 dimensions (and sometimes up to 9 or 12):

Sustainability, Wellness, Zero Waste

 

Even taking small actions creates an interplay between the dimensions of wellbeing (see above image). For example, choosing to eat locally grown foods affects our wellbeing in these ways: 

  • Physical: locally grown foods are higher in nutrients and healthier for us
  • Mental: substituting a locally grown ingredient in a favorite recipe may involve creative substitutions 
  • Emotional: explaining to a friend, or someone working in a market why you only want to buy local ingredients 
  • Spiritual: our purpose is to help others and to support our communities, hence your choice to buy local
  • Social: buying locally supports our communities and keeps our hard earned money circulating within them- buying from an industrial farm means that almost no money stays within the community
  • Environmental: locally grown food travels a shorter distance to get to us and isn't monocropped (which means fewer pesticides, fewer/no GMO seeds, less reliance on fossil fuels, healthier, in season food and a healthier ecosystem)

Living sustainably doesn’t merely benefit our wellbeing, our actions have a compounding effect that reaches our immediate relations and our community. For example, choosing locally grown foods affect our community's wellbeing in these ways: 

  • Physical: sharing locally grown meals with our family + friends also give them access to nutrient rich foods
  • Mental: the person behind us that hears us explaining why we are looking for local honey is then confronted with their own food sourcing questions, and thinks about their own consumption patterns
  • Emotional: forming connections with food growers and producers allows them a larger platform to share the issues and challenges that they face 
  • Spiritual: the impact of our choices on our community become more apparent to us and those around us
  • Social: buying locally means meeting those who produced/grew our foods and the widening of social and support networks
  • Environmental: our purchasing choices affect the air we all breathe, the water we all drink and the soil we all need to grow food 

When the six dimensions of wellbeing are considered, suddenly our seemingly small sustainability action has made us an activist. 

 

Author: Caitlin Enz