What is environmental wellness?
Environmental wellness is all about creating a clean, safe, and healthy environment to surround ourselves in. Not everyone is passionate, or even aware of environmental wellness. However, everyone in the organization should be participating in environmental wellness through a wellness program because protecting the planet also saves money. A clean, safe, and healthy environment also includes avoiding injuries, infections, and diseases.
As an employer, you can implement aspects of environmental wellness into your wellness program to help employees adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. These wellness programs already encourage employees to make choices to improve their overall health, and the idea behind environmental health is no different. It’s just focused towards the overall health of the planet rather than the health of the individual. However, when we work towards the health of the planet and the environment, we are also making healthier choices for ourselves. Here are 4 reasons you should include environmental wellness in your wellness program:
1. The environment has a big impact on our health, mental health, and well-being
The CDC and the WHO, in addition to nearly all major medical associations, have warned us about the risks of living in an unhealthy environment. Unhealthy air quality and unhealthy water have a direct impact on our health. People who breathe in poor quality air have a drastically higher risk for heart attacks, heart disease, asthma, and bronchitis. Children are especially affected by an unhealthy environment.
The CDC has also stated that changes in our environment can increase our risk of infectious disease, floods, fires, and drastic temperature swings. These things can have a huge negative impact on overall wellness. While many wellness programs focus on individuals changing their behaviors that impact their own health and wellbeing, if we implement practices that focus on environmental wellness, we can help employees live even longer and healthier lives.
2. Environmental wellness is good for local businesses and your community
There are many foods that we consume that take a lot of energy and resources to get to us, such as certain fruits during the wintertime. It has to be grown in other areas of the world and flown to you. Environmental wellness can help educate employees about the benefits and cost savings that can come from buying locally grown foods. For example, local farmer’s markets are usually available during the summer months and they provide many varieties of local fruits, vegetables, and other healthy options that are good for you and the planet. You are also supporting your local food producers, community, and local economy, which is another great advantage!
3. Employees who conserve save money
Conserving resources benefits the planet and saves money. Conserving water, electricity, paper, plastics, and gasoline means that we spend less. One great example of this is LED lights, they provide the same quality of light for 1/10th of the electricity, a savings of 90%. Check out this calculator which can help you see exactly how much you could save by switching all of your lights to LED lights. You can implement this change in the workplace, and your employees can save money at home too.
You can also use reusable grocery bags instead of disposable ones every time. Plastic bags are so bad for the environment that they were recently banned in New York City.
4. Employees who spend more time outside are happier and more productive
The last part of environmental wellness is encouraging your employees to go outside. Especially in the era of working from home, spending even just a few minutes per day outside can drastically improve your mood. It’s a form of stress relief, and can be a great way to bring the whole family together for an outdoor activity. For ideas and activities that you can do outside, check out our blog here.
How to bring environmental wellness into your wellness program
Environmental wellness should focus on two things: helping your employees and their families make healthier choices and helping your work site do the same. For employees, you can encourage incentives for outdoor activity, offer incentives for making healthier food choices, and offer incentives for making more environmentally friendly choices. For more ideas and strategies about how to implement environmental wellness into your wellness program, check out the following blogs:
- 4 No-cost Employee Wellness Strategies and Ideas
- 6 Apps for Tracking Your Mental and Physical Health
- 6 Unique Ideas to Get Active at Home
Remember, environmental wellness means creating a clean, safe, and healthy environment. How you achieve that for you and your employees is completely up to you. If you'd like to talk about what type of wellness program might be right for your company, contact us below and we'd love to help!