Creating a Healthy Environment in Shanghai
Upon coming to Shanghai nearly 25 years ago, the environment was quite different. There were millions of bicycles, but very few cars. The air pollution stemmed from factories and people using coal for heating. Fireworks, street food and fires added to the bad air quality.
Today, the problem is quite different. The government has made a lot of progress in controlling industrial pollution. The days of barely being able to see through the factory-caused smog are gone. The government has banned fireworks and reduced other pollutants. China strives to be the one of the cleanest country by 2025 and has made large investments in renewable energy. After numerous food safety scares, regulations and oversight have cut down on these issues as well.
However, the wealthier lifestyle brings a host of new problems. Cars fill the roads. The garbage bins are filled with plastic. In 2015, we returned to Bali where we’d gone several times since 2003. The water was full of plastic bags. Environmental problems really hit home when you see this drastic example of what we’re doing to the planet in such a beautiful setting.
There’s a lot we can all do to create a healthy environment for ourselves and the world.
Be the Change
One can only start with oneself, and this is just what we did. We returned from our holiday and began a process of change right at home. We started by getting rid of plastic at home and reducing waste. It hasn’t always been easy and it has taken two years. But we’ve eliminated single-use plastics, going to all reusable bags and containers. We’ve cut down our waste significantly and continue to find new ways of being more environmentally friendly.
Body & Soul Goes Green
The next step was to make these changes in our clinics. Body & Soul is an environment for promoting health and well-being and this includes the health of the environment. We switched out all the plastic bags we used for patient medications to recyclable paper and fabric bags. Even the muesli bars we sell in the clinics are wrapped in food safe paper instead of plastic now. We got little paper envelopes for herbs as well. For safety reasons, the herbs themselves are still packaged in airtight sealed small plastic bags. Our cotton towels are washed instead of using disposable wipes/towels. Of course, many medical items and items used for patient care must be one-time use for hygiene and safety. But, we’ve eliminated waste in many unnecessary areas.
We helped our staff move to minimal waste too. We gave everyone an insulated lunch bag with glass food containers and a drink cup. Body & Soul no longer allows deliveries in the clinics or plastic water bottles. It is amazing to see the bins in the staff kitchen go from overflowing to practically empty. We’re all eating healthier too!
Contributing to the Place We Call Home
Another way we can all impact our local environment is contributing to its betterment. Doing good feels good. It not only helps others, but studies have shown it decreases depression, increases confidence, reduces isolation and increases good brain chemicals. In other words, it makes you happier and healthier to interact with your direct environment, and contribute.
For more than 10 years, we’ve helped Heart 2 Heart to fund 1-2 heart surgeries for children and babies in need. Our clinics participate in knitting sweaters and blankets for them. The ayis and other staff in our clinics knit in their downtime, and the clinic that knits the most blankets in a year gets a free lunch after spring festival. Everyone feels good about contributing and having purpose for their downtime.
I have another passion: Because animals bring so much joy to our lives, our family has included many beloved furry family members over the years. We have 7 cats and 2 dogs. We rescue and adopt, rather than buying pets. There are so many dogs and cats in need of adoption and fostering in Shanghai. Our family’s beautiful lab was adopted. You can help support animal charities such as Shanghai Animal Rescue (SAR) and get on WeChat groups for adopting and helping animals. The TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) program is vitally important. Unfortunately, many animals are being slaughtered in cruel ways in Shanghai and throughout China. Feeding the local cats only contributes to these issues if they’re not neutered. A voucher for one surgery costs as little as 100 RMB and you can help contribute to vet costs for animals being fostered.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming article on key tips for staying healthy and happy in Shanghai. Don’t let the sometimes unhealthy environment discourage you. You can live a healthy life and even help make things better!
Read more about the above mentioned charities by scanning the below QR codes:
Heart 2 Heart:
Shanghai Animal Rescue:
The TNR Program:
Body & Soul combines Eastern medicine and Western science to provide the most natural, effective health solutions in four convenient locations throughout Shanghai. Services offered are covered by insurances and include TCM and acupuncture, osteopathy, chiropractic, physical therapy, psychological counseling, podiatry and functional medicine among others. Follow us on Wechat for more health and wellness tips!