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What is Environmental Wellness?

Drinking water inequities threaten the environmental wellness of U.S. and global poorer communities. Part 3 of our 10-part series on how you can break through barriers blocking you from a life well-lived using the benefits of wellness practice. The series will follow foundational concepts related to wellness and the 9 Dimensions of Wellness.

What is Environmental Wellness?


Environmental wellness involves meeting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' five social determinants of health (SDOH) that create and sustain the natural, built, and social environment.


These conditions include but are not limited to achieving goals for people to be “born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age” in environments that promote economic stability, accessible quality education, accessible quality health care, neighborhoods that are safe from corrupted water supply and toxic air pollutants, and social support instead of discrimination and bullying8.


What is Environmental Justice?

Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, [including, “minority, low-income, tribal, and indigenous populations”], regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policie2,3.


This applies but is not limited to “measurable and significant” reduction in “disparities in childhood blood lead levels, [from 3.31 to1.18 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL)], and working to ensure that all people served by small community and tribal water systems have drinking water that meets applicable health-based standards”; a “reduce[d] amount of toxic pollutants released into the environment, [from 1.69 to 1.86 Million tons]”; reduced “number of days people are exposed to unhealthy air” [from 4.29 to 3.87 Billion Quality Index (AQI)-weighted people days]; reduced childhood and adult hospitalizations and “asthma deaths” and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); an increase[d] proportion, [from 72.8% to 77.1%], of people whose water systems have the recommended amount of fluoride”; a reduce[d] proportion of families, [from 34.6% to 25.5%], that spend more than 30 percent of income on housing”2, 3, 7. For more information visit the resource section of this article.


Why Environmental Wellness and Justice are Important

Every being on this planet is affected by our global collective health - anyone, from “pet owners, travelers, and farmers to anyone who buys and eats food or drinks or swims in water”9.


Natural, built, and social environmental wellness and environmental justice are vital factors in our perceived available life choices, access to quality health care, our habits and routines, quality of life, generational wealth assets, citizenship, and life expectancy8,4.


Effects of Our Collective Behaviors on Our and Earth’s Well-Being

The Global & U.S. Water Crises


This is what I saw when typing in the search “water crisis” in Google.


Shocking, right?


There are many areas around the globe experiencing water crises.


It seems this is not a political issue. Environmental justice and wellness is a world issue that affects us all.


Actions for Environmental Justice You Can Take at the Local Community Level


Generation Z is made up of “agents of change, entrepreneurs, and innovators”.


Their efforts to “accelerate climate action” are no different and speak to the urgency with which everyone can contribute to the longevity of our and our planet’s posterity.


Review tips for what you can do immediately and over time to protect our Earth:

U.S. and Global Actions and Technologies for a Sustainable Environment

“Local governments have a very important role to play in the protection of surface water, ground water, drinking water and wetlands, often filling in the gaps in state and federal regulations” according to Michigan State University’s recent 3-part article series.


Closing

Economic stability, access to quality education, accessible quality health care, safe neighborhoods uncorrupted by toxic water and air pollutants, and social support are the five social determinants of health imparted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To achieve health then, the USDHHS asserts these needs be met. However, national and global environmental injustices affecting particularly, minority, low-income, tribal, and indigenous populations lead to disparities throughout the lifespan that reduce quality of life. Anyone who lives on this planet is affected by our global collective health and is therefore responsible for its and our well-being. Actions that can be taken at the individual, local community, national, and global levels to ensure a sustainable environment into posterity were discussed.


Call to Action

Looking for more? Subscribe to the Grace Counseling and Wellness, PLLC newsletter, Saving Grace, for insights about prioritizing yourself, having better relationships with yourself and others, and dealing with life when responsibilities begin to feel overwhelming. We aim to empower you to make sense of your life so you can live with grace and wellness.




References

  1. Decluttering Your Life: How Cleaning and Mental Health Are Connected with Dr. Dawn Potter (2021) my.clevelandclinic.org. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/podcasts/health-essentials/decluttering-your-life-how-cleaning-and-mental-health-are-connected-with-dr-dawn-potter (Accessed: 16 May 2023).

  2. Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, May 12). Environmental Justice | US EPA. EPA. https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice

  3. EPA. (n.d.-b). EPA Office of Environmental Justice in Action. Retrieved May 16, 2023, from https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2017-09/documents/epa_office_of_environmental_justice_factsheet.pdf.

  4. Friesinger et al. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes (2022) 20:135 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12955-022-02045-2

  5. Gordon, S. (2023) The Connection Between Decluttering, Cleaning, and Mental Health, Verywellmind.com. Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/how-mental-health-and-cleaning-are-connected-5097496 (Accessed: 16 May 2023).

  6. Liff, N.J. (2021) How And Why Cleaning Can Improve Your Mental Health, Psycom.net. Available at: https://www.psycom.net/anxiety/mental-health-benefits-cleaning (Accessed: 16 May 2023).

  7. “Neighborhood and Built Environment.” Health.Gov, health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/browse-objectives/neighborhood-and-built-environment. Accessed 16 May 2023.

  8. Social Determinants of Health. Social Determinants of Health - Healthy People 2030. (n.d.). https://health.gov/healthypeople/priority-areas/social-determinants-health

  9. Working Together for One Health (2022) cdc.gov. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/in-action/working-together-for-one-health.html (Accessed: 16 May 2023).




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