How reconnecting with nature can make you a more conscious consumer
As of 2008 more people live in cities than the countryside. This marks a huge moment in human history and one that is changing the way humans interact with their environment in many ways. When you live in a city and spend most your time in an office environment ‘nature’ can often feel like something very far away; something that is separate to us and our lives.
Our connection to nature is fading and with it our environmental impact is increasing. From the safety of our cities, environmental disasters happening across the world, usually in rural areas feel unreal and not a problem to worry about, but the more high-tech our lives become the more nature we need.
Studies show that many of us use shopping as a stress reliever and mood booster, leading to mindless consumption. Nature can reduce depression and improve psychological wellbeing. Researchers in Sweden have found joggers who exercise in a natural, green setting feel more restored and less anxious, angry, or depressed than people who burn the same amount of calories jogging in a built urban setting. Could just switching to a park run help us to make more conscious decisions?
Connection to nature also builds empathy. Levels of neuro-chemicals and hormones associated with social bonding are elevated during animal-human interactions. Researchers at the University of Rochester report that exposure to the natural environment leads people to nurture close relationships with fellow human beings and value community; all leading to
increased levels of empathy. This in turn is linked to higher levels of consciousness and moral value, meaning we are more ready to entertain something from someone else’s perspective. Empathy is a special form of intelligence that goes beyond simple rationality or reasoning and it could be the difference between buying $2.50 t-shirt made in a sweatshop and choosing to save for an ethically produced option.
We don’t need to go far to become more connected with nature and start reaping the rewards. Many of us can’t tell our oaks from our pines or our ravens from our crows but there is an astonishing variety of trees, plants, birds and other animals in our cities, many of them adapting to life with humans in fascinating ways.
Learning to recognize your local flora and fauna, as well as taking a few moments each day in a green space can all help you to feel much more connected to the natural world around you, no matter where you are.
So, let’s turn off our computers and get outside!