Today's technological society keeps people indoors, slaves to their work desks and technology and disconnected with the world we share. However, humans are not separate from nature — we are a part of it. Spending time in the great outdoors benefits people's mental and physical wellbeing.
How can we improve our connection with Mother Earth? There are a million tiny ways, but it all begins with taking time to see the beauty that surrounds us, even in urban areas. Here are six suggestions for how you can strengthen your bond with the planet we call home.
1. Learn the Flora where you live
Humans have forgotten the food we eat comes not from the store, but the Earth. Most people could not survive long if they had to forage without finding a garden to raid. However, our wild places are home to many plants with nutritional and medicinal properties — even ones considered weeds, such as dandelions and chamomile.
Take the time to learn about the flora native to your area. Take a nature hike with a guide who specializes in indigenous plants — you may become inspired to plant your own wild medicinal or nutritional garden.
2. Build bird feeders
Few things are more relaxing than watching birds feed outside a sunny window, so do your part to reduce, reuse and invite finches to your yard by repurposing plastic water bottles into bird feeders. You'll gain hours of enjoyment watching the little flyers flit about outside your home or office.
Of course, recycle what you do not reuse in some way. Many people do not know that TV dinner trays can be rinsed and recycled the same way empty cans and bottles can.
3. Hike as often as possible
Hiking is a fabulous exercise, and it gets us to turn off our devices and lose ourselves in nature's beauty. If you're fortunate enough to have a national or state park nearby, spend every nice weekend exploring new trails. You can set out with friends and family, or if you prefer to unplug from humans completely, let someone know where you're headed and what time you expect to return to protect your safety if you get lost.
4. Bike to the farmers market
Driving creates carbon emissions, so why not take another opportunity to engage more with nature — and eat more healthfully — by biking to the farmers market during nice weekends? You can invest in a beach cruiser with a basket for only a few hundred bucks, and if buying an electric vehicle is impractical financially, biking to nearby locations can reduce your environmental footprint significantly.
When you get to the market, talk to the merchants about how they grow their wares — most are willing to share. Inquire about a veggie or fruit you've never tried before. You may find a new favorite food, and you'll know exactly how it was raised.
5. Volunteer for a cleanup
Litter clogs our highways, but few of us notice as we drive by at 65 mph. Consider joining an Adopt-A-Highway cleanup crew to beautify the environment where you live. If the prospect of picking up trash along the highway proves intimidating but you live near the ocean, consider participating in a shore cleanup to keep our beaches beautiful for all to enjoy.
6. Feed the ducks
You may have heard feeding ducks bread is bad, but if you grew up loving to stroll museum grounds, tossing treats to the mallards and geese, rediscover your connection with these wild birds. You can feed them, but cracked corn, birdseed and special duck food pellets nourish them without potentially causing digestive distress. Take the little ones and enjoy a day of learning about and feeding our aquatic avian friends.
Rebuilding our lost connection with nature
Many of us in the modern world have lost our connection with the planet we share in favor of staying indoors and entertaining ourselves with devices. However, the human soul needs wild places to feel truly free, and connecting with the outdoors regularly benefits our health and inspires us to be solid environmental stewards. The more time we spend in nature, the more we can develop a love of Mother Earth.