Healthy Planet, Healthy You: November Climate News To Know
Our new series Healthy Planet, Healthy You explores just how tightly human health and environmental health are intertwined—for better and for worse. Each month, we'll break the latest news on how nature can rejuvenate us on one hand and damage our health when it's not cared for on the other. We'll end with timely tips and tools to help you care for your environment so it can care for you.
Well-kept beaches and coasts boost life satisfaction.
Previous research has shown that there's something about visiting blue space—any body of water, large or small—that can seriously benefit well-being1. The quality and cleanliness of the coast matter too, according to a new study from an urban beach area in Plymouth, United Kingdom. The team found that the psychological well-being, community belonging, and life satisfaction of locals improved after a series of community-led beach cleanups. (Read the research here.)
Life-threatening climate events are continuing to, well, threaten lives.
Every year, an international research collaboration by the medical journal the Lancet releases a new report on the relationship between health and climate. The new 2021 brief is bleak, citing disturbing increases in extreme heat events, droughts, and wildfires around the world. To stave off the worst impacts of these events, the contributing health experts provide policy recommendations that we can all rally behind. (Read the report here.)
Activities in nature (especially gardening and exercise) support mental health.
An important reminder for those tempted to stay in once winter weather hits: Yet another research review has concluded that spending time outdoors is associated with improved mood, less anxiety, and more positive emotions. After analyzing 50 studies, a team led by the University of York concluded that gardening and exercise were associated with the most mental health benefits, and getting outside with a group was also a plus. (Read the review here2.)
Millions of doctors are calling climate change the biggest health threat of our time.
At this month's much-anticipated COP26 conference, a special report on climate change and health—the first of its kind—was released by the World Health Organization. The report ran alongside a "Climate Prescription" signed by 300 health organizations representing 45 million doctors calling the climate crisis "the single biggest health threat facing humanity," and imploring world leaders to treat it as such. (Read the report here3.)
Air pollution is taking center stage on the health agenda.
Air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is a major threat to global health, and it contributes to millions of premature deaths worldwide. This new paper by the World Heart Federation outlines air pollution's role in cardiovascular disease, in particular, and provides recommendations for how we can avoid the worst of its effects. (Read the paper here4.)
November focus: Food waste.
Food waste is a massive global issue that you can fight from your home kitchen. If your fridge is full following holiday celebrations, here are some recipes to help you repurpose those leftovers:
- Recycled Veggie Stock
- Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza
- Food Waste Cocktail (cranberry sauce Old Fashioned, citrus stalk Collins, brown-butter-infused whiskey)
This app is here to help out:
The Too Good To Go app connects you with nearby eateries and grocery stores that have leftover food at the end of the day. You pay a few dollars to pick up goodies that would have otherwise gone to waste, and can get some seriously good eats in the process (trust my kitchen counter full of croissants).
The Copenhagen-bred app is now active in a dozen large cities across the U.S., with connections to thousands of businesses looking to reduce waste.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.