5 Ways to Connect with the Planet this Earth Month

Remember playing outside when you were a kid? If grass stains, mud-pies and treehouses are a distant memory, you’re not alone! Findings from a 2015-2016 study, show that American adults spend less than 5 hours per week outdoors (here's a link to the study). And that was almost a decade ago!
Most of us have drifted from a world where we feel any connection with the planet. We go from garage to garage inside our cars and spend the bulk of our lives in climate-controlled homes, buildings and offices.

Yet, well researched papers continue to pour in, showing countless benefits of time in nature - everything from mood boosts, to decreased risk of disease. 
So instead of reminding you to plant trees this Earth Month, or talking about ways you can reuse, reduce and recycle, here's something a little different.
Whether you're an outlier who spends more than 5 hours a week outdoors - or you've forgotten to prioritize your connection to nature for years, I'm offering you a few ideas to strengthen that connection.
So without further ado, here are 5 ways you can connect with our planet this Earth Month (no tree planting required).

1. Try grounding/ earthing 

You can literally connect to the Earth just by standing in your yard without shoes. Plus, it just may be bolster your health.
Dozens of published, peer-reviewed scientific papers demonstrate the benefits of this practice to expedite healing, reduce inflammation and more. So what is grounding and how's it done?
Grounding involves direct contact of the human body with the Earth, like walking on the beach with no shoes. But you can also use specialized mats, electrodes and bedding (that "plug in" to the ground outside).
The idea is that connection to Earth's electric field regulates our bodies' own electrical systems. But since the actual mechanism has yet to be measured, the research is still not wholly accepted (and as with all science, skeptics remain).

Yet new studies showing a variety of health benefits resulting from earthing or grounding are continually published.
I personally love barefoot beach walks, the feeling of my feet on the grass, or digging my hands in the dirt to find crystals - or plant flowers.

2. Viewing nature's art

Earth-grown mineral masterpieces with natural colors, textures and shapes, dazzle our senses and stir emotions - like traditional art. But instead of being created by human artists, these glorious minerals were created by mother Earth herself.

And observing mineral masterpieces can awaken your awe and appreciation for the planet!
If you live in or near a larger city, check your local museums for mineral galleries. You could also check out your local gem and mineral societies. Or plan a visit to Tucson in late January/ Early February or Denver in September for large gem and mineral shows (with thousands of stunning pieces)! 
Like art, high end mineral specimens can sell for 6 to 7 figures, often increasing in value through time. But you can also find entry level mineral specimens.
If you'd like to start your own personal collection (and give yourself the privilege of viewing nature's art in your own home) we'd love to help you out.
Check out our current offerings of ethically-sourced, American and Canadian minerals here.

3. Go foraging

My dad recently visited me in the Houston area from Alaska. He's Native American, a subsistence hunter, fisher and gatherer - and he's one of the most connected-to-the-Earth people I know.
While in Texas he took my son foraging for youpon leaves for tea. It's the only naturally caffeinated plant that grows native in North America.
But when it comes to foraging, there's way more than just tea! There are hundreds of wild edible plants all over North America. And picking your food straight from the ground is such beautiful way to connect with the planet!
After February flowers cover our local, wild dewberry patches, our kids watch a miracle unfolding. Through the weeks, thanks to sunshine, rain and nutrients from the soil- tiny green berries form, then turn red. Finally we harvest juicy, black berries - and add them to yogurt or feature them as star ingredients of desserts. Thank you Mother Earth!
If you want to try your hand at foraging, make sure to learn plant identification and what grows in your area. You could check out some local guidebooks or ask an elder friend of family member. Many cities even have classes or guided foraging trips at local nature centers.

4. Go for a hike 

According to the American Hikers Society "Hiking helps connect us with our roots to this Earth, giving us a feeling of responsibility to protect and preserve its sacredness."
Many hiking trails are in parks or preserves and give you an opportunity to walk through (undisturbed) nature. Hiking calms your mind and enhances awareness of your surroundings. Plus it gives your body a bit of exercise.
If you're looking for a hiking trail in your area, download the alltrails app. This’ll help you find the perfect hike! You can search by terrain, difficulty, and length. Plus user reviews can be really helpful!

I use this app regularly and it has saved me a couple times! (Last summer I almost drove out to a trail in Colorado but read a review saying this particular trail requires an advanced reservation- which I didn't have).

5. Use local produce

I love connecting with the Earth through food and I've grown to cherish local veggies - thankful for the Earth, the rain, the sun (and the farmers)! And by choosing local produce year round, we stay in the rhythm of the planet and the seasons.
Plus, local sourcing's better for the planet than shipping produce all over the world.
No, you may not be able to get every fruit and every vegetable all year round - but it's more special when it is in season. I start to miss zuchinni in late winter and look forward to spring and summer months - and the return of summer veggies and fruits!
Local produce also tends to last longer in the fridge than produce from large grocery stores (generally it's fresher).
You can grow your own (which I did for a few years). It's rewarding but time-consuming and labor-intensive.
Now, I'm a member of a local CSA (community shared agriculture) program at a nearby organic farm. I pay upfront for each growing season and get a share of whatever they harvest, every week.
Check your area for CSA options and local farmer's markets. (And wow your friends or family with a great meal while cultivating a connection to your little corner of the Earth.)

Well there's 5 ideas for you to connect with our beloved planet this Earth Month (and all year round!) Do you practice any of these regularly? Which ones will you try?  

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