Learn How You Can Contribute to Making Green Cities

By Charlie Tohme

reviewed by amadou barrow

Yes, the greener, the better. That’s what we keep hearing over and over. But why? Are green settings good for your health? Do you really feel better when you go hiking in nature? Do you feel more relaxed while walking in the park? Is it the color green or the smell of fresh air? We’ve got all the answers for you!  

When we talk about urban green spaces, we refer to natural surfaces or natural environments, as well as different types of greenery, such as street trees, and blue space, which include water elements, from ponds to coastal zones. Public parks are common examples of green spaces in cities; other examples include private gardens, woodlands, children’s play areas, non-amenity areas such as roadside verges, riverside footpaths, beaches, and so on.

Is there a link between green cities and wellbeing?

The short, straight to the point answer to your question would be yes, there is a link. But here’s a more scientific and detailed answer for you: 

A study shows that there is a positive association between green spaces and general health, especially for those living within three kilometers. It also proved that the link was mostly present at all degrees of urbanity; however, it would be best to incorporate more green spaces at a central position in spatial planning. Applying this approach would ensure that all residents of the area have easy and close access to them. 

In addition, several researchers have demonstrated the positive effects of green spaces on overall health. Improved air quality, increased physical activity, stress reduction, and greater social cohesion have been proved to be the four main and interconnected pathways by which nature or green spaces can contribute to our health.

According to the WHO, this link is related to three different aspects of health: psychological, physical, and ecological. Your psychological health benefits from green spaces when you use green spaces to relax and socialize. This contributes to reducing stress and improving your overall mental health. Physical health is related to sports and leisure such as walking, cycling, and gardening. By practicing sports outside, you can stay fit and healthy, thereby preventing cardiovascular diseases and other health disorders. Additionally, a study showed that gardening is a preventive health measure that helps people feel mentally healthier and more energized. Our ecological health benefits from green spaces through noise reduction and air purification, which not only prevent cancerous diseases and stress but also contribute to the health of our planet!

What can you learn from this, then? It is proven that green spaces are more than just a luxury or an aesthetic part of a city. Now, when you finally take a break from binge-watching your favorite show and step outside, you can be sure that you’re doing something good for your health and wellbeing. 

Is anything being done to add more green cities in cities?

Okay, now that we’ve established that nature is good for you, what else should we know about the implementation of green spaces in cities?

There are several strategies for the gentrification of urban greenery implemented by different organizations worldwide; the European Commission is one of them. It focuses mainly on two strategies: green infrastructure and nature-based solutions. 

Green infrastructure is about conserving biodiversity and enabling ecosystems to provide people and nature with their services. In simple words, this first concept includes all vegetation, such as parks where you can take long walks after a stressful day, gardens for a change of scenery when trying to escape the concrete jungle, forests for you to go on hikes on the weekend.

On the other hand, nature-based solutions are living solutions inspired by nature. According to the European Commission, this method relies on the intelligent use of nature’s resources, such as clean air, water, and soil. These solutions are addressing various environmental issues in a resource-efficient and adaptable manner while also providing economic, social, and ecological benefits. This concept helps you achieve a better quality of life through green activities and a clean environment while reducing environmental burdens through nature-based technologies. 

However, the process of urban greenery can be challenging. Going green involves collaboration among local governments, community groups, organizations, local stakeholders willing to acquire shares in real estate, and mainstream environmentalists. That obviously doesn’t include urban planners, designers, and ecologists responsible for implementing suitable strategies for urban green space that benefits the public’s wellbeing and environmental health.

But what can you do to promote green spaces? 

You want to contribute to making your city greener, but don’t know where to start. Fear not, we’ve got you covered with these 10 simple steps. You have to be neither an urban planner nor an ecologist to implement  them. 

  • Building a nesting site for bees and butterflies. They also help flowering plants produce seeds, which bears us fruits. It can be your next DIY project!
  • Growing your own greenery. You’ll be eating organic food, enjoying the great taste of your own vegetables, and helping the environment at the same time.
  • Organizing neighborhood clean-ups. What better way to spend your Sunday morning? You can build a sense of community while taking care of your environment.
  • Harvesting rainwater. It is perfect for watering plants and filling ponds. If you have a garden or a balcony, you can collect rainwater in an underground cistern, a barrel under the gutter, or even a well-placed bucket. You’ll be saving some money as well! 
  • Educating your children. You can enroll your child in a course that includes science camp, farming, gardening, etc. It helps them grow up healthy and develop a sense of responsibility toward the environment and value it in the future. 
  • Respecting nature as a lifestyle. After a long day at work, a walk in the park can be just what we need. You can stick to the designated paths and make as little noise as possible. If you have your dog with you, make sure to keep it on a leash and keep a safe distance between your dog and other animals. Remember to only pick or collect what is permitted and to take your trash home.
  • Putting plants on the roof of your house. A green roof is a good move! You’ll be contributing to expanding the green space of your city. 
  • Making compost. You can give nature back what it gave you in the first place. How? By recycling food and garden waste, you’ll be creating a free high-quality natural fertilizer. 
  • Supporting associations. Volunteer and show your support for associations, clubs, and foundations working on making your city greener. 
  • Creating awareness. It’s not wrong to educate people on something you believe in. You can spread awareness about the importance of green spaces and greenery for the wellbeing of people and take part in making a difference.

 

Again, the greener, the better! Strengthen your relationship with nature and contribute to making your city greener. You’ll not only be taking care of your environment but also taking care of your wellbeing.

Charlie Tohme

Charlie is a writer and editor at Solavieve. She began her career as a translator but she wanted to contribute more to widening the medium of communication. Translating wasn’t enough for her, so she pursued a master’s in journalism. Her passion for communication shifted from translating words to translating thoughts, voices, and stories. Her experience enabled her to become a dynamic journalist, translator, and editor, hardworking and avid in writing captivating articles, especially when promoting different aspects of health and holistic living.

Amadou Barrow

Amadou is a public/global health researcher and a digital health researcher and analyst at SolaVieve. He received a BSc in public health with honors from the University of The Gambia and a master’s degree in reproductive & family health from the University of Benin, Nigeria. He is also completing a master’s degree in international health at Heidelberg University, Germany. He is a passionate digital health enthusiast with a special focus on holistic health and wellbeing at individual and population levels.

52 steps towards a greener city. (2018). ; Publications Office of the European Union. https://www.europedirectpyrenees.eu/wp-content/uploads/52-

Braubach, M., Egorov, A., Mudu, P., & Wolf, T. (n.d.). Effects of urban green space on environmental health equity and resilience to extreme weather European Centre for Environment and Health WHO Regional Office for Europe. https://www.bfn.de/fileadmin/BfN/klimawandel/Dokumente/ECBCC2015/2015-11-18/Session2/Braubach_-_Green_spaces__equity_and_resilience.pdf

Haase, D., Kabisch, S., Haase, A., Andersson, E., Banzhaf, E., Baró, F., Brenck, M., Fischer, L. K., Frantzeskaki, N., Kabisch, N., Krellenberg, K., Kremer, P., Kronenberg, J., Larondelle, N., Mathey, J., Pauleit, S., Ring, I., Rink, D., Schwarz, N., & Wolff, M. (2017). Greening cities – To be socially inclusive? About the alleged paradox of society and ecology in cities. Habitat International, 64, 41–48. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.habitatint.2017.04.005

Maas, J., Verheij, R. A., Groenewegen, P. P., de Vries, S., & Spreeuwenberg, P. (2006). Green space, urbanity, and health: how strong is the relation? Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 60(7), 587–592. https://doi.org/10.1136/jech.2005.043125

Nature-based solutions research policy. (2018). European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/research-area/environment/nature-based-solutions/research-policy_en

Ward Thompson, C., Silveirinha de Oliveira, E., Wheeler, B. W., Depledge, M. H., & Annerstedt van den Bosch, M. (2016). Urban green spaces and health. World Health Organization. https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/321971/Urban-green-spaces-and-health-review-evidence.pdf

Wolch, J. R., Byrne, J., & Newell, J. P. (2014). Urban green space, public health, and environmental justice: The challenge of making cities “just green enough.” Landscape and Urban Planning, 125, 234–244. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.01.017

Related articles

Environmental
Elisa Furlan
May, 2021
| 6 min read
Holistic
Moira Daly
April, 2021
| 6 min read
Enviromental
Robyn Albertyn
April, 2021
| 8 min read