Earth Day 2022 is Friday, April 22, and it seems like there’s a thousand organized cleanups happening and plenty of groups will have flyers or educational forums. Newscasters will have their “Earth Day” piece on the 6pm news, probably framed by advertisers telling you that they are the greenest.
My personal suggestion for this weekend? Shinrin-Yoku. It’s Japanese which translates to “Forest Bathing,” a therapeutic practice designed to actively engage all of your senses in appreciating nature. There are mental health benefits to this: just walking and leaving the outside world behind for an hour has been shown to improve mood and feelings of vigor. Learn more about this practice in a Spectrum Health Voices post from last summer, by fellow guest blogger Susan West Montgomery.
If you’re not a tree person, how about a waterfall? The hypnotic beauty of the Eternal Flame Falls at Chestnut Ridge, the unexpected energy of Glen Falls right off Main St. in Williamsville, or the majestic thunder of Niagara Falls. Water sounds have long been used in meditation to create a soothing atmosphere for our minds. There’s a reason that moving water (babbling brooks, ocean waves, etc.) are common sounds in “white noise” machines.
If you don’t want the solitude, it’s a good time to put your best four-legged friend in the car and give him or her a special treat. Find a trail and let them explore something new. As they satisfy their curiosity, you should take the time to appreciate your surroundings and your pet. And, don’t forget to let your pet love you back!
I’ve been accused of being on the tree hugger side of politics, but as you see, I am not encouraging you to fill bags with other people’s trash for Earth Day. Why? Because I think it is more important for everyone to have a relationship with nature. Because once you appreciate nature, you are more likely to make a difference as every day becomes Earth Day.
John S. Szalasny
Sierra Club Niagara Group Executive Committee