April 22nd is Earth Day! The health of our beautiful planet is the health of our patient.
As physicians' vow to first do no harm, we must recognize the link between environmental health and wellbeing and our patients' health and wellbeing. We all impact our environment in ways large and small. Four overarching areas to consider are the following: Shelter and Energy, Transportation and Travel, Food and Water, and Consumer Purchases. Each of these pathways contain habits, actions, and behaviors that can affect our global and local impact. While none of the pathways exist in isolation, individual changes to one pathway may have drastic implications to the impacts of an individual’s sustainable footprint. By exploring each pathway, you can identify your impact, how it relates to the global sustainability challenge, and what you can do to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Teaching your patients the individual and global impact of their actions can be a part of your routine counseling as well, for example, walking when possible instead of driving or eating a plant-based diet. ACP provides resources as well. Climate Change Toolkit | Advocacy in Action | ACP (acponline.org)
Here are some more practical steps you can take.
- Attend an Earth Day event hosted by your local nature center.
Several environmental organizations working across the Delaware River Basin are celebrating Earth Day by hosting educational webinars, socially distanced river cleanups, tree plantings, and so much more! Visit this page to see a list of recommended events taking place this week and next.
- Visit one of New Jersey’s extraordinary state parks.
One way to celebrate Earth Day is by getting outside and enjoying the natural world, either solo or with loved ones! Experiencing fresh air and sunshine are more important than ever, and New Jersey has many open protected natural areas where you can do just that. Find a state park near you here on the Department of Environmental Protection’s website, and don’t forget to mask up!
- Sign up with volunteer organizations!
There are many! Some that are particularly active in NJ like the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters. Whether it’s helping to advocate for landmark new protections for our clean water and open spaces, or getting your hands dirty restoring your local stream, you can always find ways to help.