June 02nd, 2014
Vidas 360: connecting with the natural world
For the first time in human history, the majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and this proportion will continue to grow. As urbanization increases, more people will be affected by the loss of open, green space and our connection to nature will continue to fade.
But as humans, we all need to connect with Mother Nature. Scientific research shows that contact with the natural world can boost our health. Natural environments are inspiring and energizing, they sharpen the senses, soothe our thinking and increase our happiness.
Throughout our travels, we have found that the well-being of people, wildlife and the natural world are all interconnected. Every one of us is responsible to create balance and find harmony between people, wildlife and nature.
One way to establish this connection is by incorporating natural environments into the spaces where we live and work. Planting plants in our backyards, our neighborhoods and in interior spaces is a way to nurture life and celebrate growth, as we become more mindful of all the environments that surround us. Maria and I have a goal of planting at least one fruit tree per year over the course of ten years. We started five years ago by planting our first avocado tree and so far we have planted orange, lemon, mango and mandarin trees!
Another way is to go out and spend time in nature, especially if you can exercise in some way. Kayaking and hiking have been a very important part of our trip. As we explore natural environments, we increase our mind-body connection and boost our energy levels.
We have been socially responsible travelers, getting involved in low-impact initiatives—making environmentally-friendly and sustainable living choices—while gathering an appreciation of natural habitats. In India, we visited Elephantastic, an initiative that began in 2012 to promote the well being of these magnificent creatures. Our visit was one of the most memorable experiences of our trip. We spent the day learning about the elephants—observing their every day habits, feedings, and even taking them to the lake for a swim and scrub. The organization’s purpose is to educate travelers, empower local communities and promote environmental sustainability.
As we continue our travels through Asia we got the chance to learn about orangutans. They are native to Indonesia and Malaysia and are currently found only in the rainforest of Borneo and Sumatra. Human activities like poaching, habitat destruction, and the illegal pet trade have created the biggest threats to wild orangutan populations. There are several conservation and rehabilitation organizations dedicated to the survival of orangutans in the wild.
You can get involved in collaborative projects and innovative initiatives focusing on local, regional or global challenges. Support conservation efforts, be conscious and establish responsible practices in your day to day life to reduce your environmental footprint.
If you want to combine your interests about the natural world with your travels, you can look for opportunities to volunteer, participate and collaborate around the world through sites like the World Wildlife Foundation, National Geographic Online, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Fund, Greenpeace, and New York City’s a Million Trees initiative.