Making it a point to connect with the natural world is one of the best things we can do for our health and wellness, especially now, and while people of all ages benefit from face time with the great outdoors (particularly city dwellers who see more concrete than green), children and young people are especially better off.
Here are 5 easy ways you can connect to the natural world while staying close to home:
Close the distance from farm to table to get close to nature with what you eat. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so when it comes to the necessary outing of gathering food to put on the table, going local is the best way to protect the environment, get the freshest sustenance possible, and get to know your farmer, butcher, and baker neighbors.
There’s nothing like a summer tomato or a basket of onions coming into season. Take advantage of the Earth’s fruit – literally. Farmer’s markets operate until the end of November, CSA (community-supported agriculture) subscriptions offer fresh, better-than-good produce, dairy and bakery items at lower prices (and a smaller footprint) than the supermarket, and many farm markets today offer curbside pickup or delivery.
Learn about nature.
With the time at home, help kids connect to something bigger than themselves by learning about local wildlife and finding ways to protect them. Research ways to provide habitat for pollinators and ground-dwelling insects by planting native plants. Inspire patience and wonder by birdwatching in your backyard, or go to the local creek and keep an eye out for foxes.
With support, encourage older kids to start an email or social media chain for neighborhood youngsters, spreading knowledge about local animal populations and what they can plant to save the bees.
Did you know there’s no such thing as waste in nature? A fallen tree becomes a burrow, and eventually goes back into the ground. Droppings feed the plants, and trees take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen in the air we breathe. But items produced by humans cannot be absorbed by nature, so recycling helps us mimic what nature does.
You recycle more at home by supporting companies looking for solutions. Tom’s of Maine works with us on a recycling program with a map you can use to search curbside, drop-off, and mailback options for natural care packaging, saving over 1.5 million items from landfills so far and using the collected material to create recycled products, like garden beds, to donate to schools.
Plus, with their new curbside recyclable toothpaste tube (the first recognized by the Association of Plastic Recyclers), you can easily save resources and prevent more material from entering the environment. Keep on recycling to help reach the next milestone!
Upcycle with DIY projects using stuff you already have.
Nature is the expert at reuse, finding shelter trees, caves, and other existing structures. Take an opportunity to slow down and craft using items you already have, like an old jar into a flower pot or vase. Better yet, make something out of stuff normally tossed in the trash!
Tom’s of Maine has a range of cool hands-on projects you and your family can do together Someone have a summer birthday? Check out this DIY gift box. Want to get festive? Jazz up some string lights with empty toothpaste tubes. Keep the critters coming with an upcycled bird feeder made from a mouthwash bottle. The possibilities are endless with a little imagination.
Just go outside.
Even in “normal” times, the average American spends 93% of their time indoors and experience “nature-deficit disorder,” but even brief interactions with nature make us all healthier and more productive, and the smallest iterations of nature, like a patch of trees in an urban landscape, have a positive impact on a child’s development.
If you have a backyard, a local park, or even a porch or balcony you feel comfortable hanging out one, the simple act of stepping out creates a connection to the planet and everyone on it. Bonus points for earthing (also known as grounding), or walking around barefoot to connect with the Earth.
In these unprecedented times, finding ways to connect to the natural world at home can seem challenging, but with a bit of planning, open-mindedness, and creativity, we all stand to benefit.