“For fast acting relief from stress, try slowing down” — comedian Lily Tomlin

It has been said by David Orr, well known author and environmental educator that speed is the number environmental issue of our time. The velocity of our lives often produce a host of unintended side effects that increase in significant ways our ecological footprint (the amount of Nature we use in our everyday lives). From the extra garbage we create when we move fast (haste makes waste!) to our inattention to important issues because of how much we try to jam into a day — our effectiveness as environmental citizens is hugely comprised by our speed. This is further amplified by the pace our culture moves has enormous environmental ripple effects.

For this reason slowing down might be one of the most effective responses to the three opportunities that need our support. Imagine how much easier it would be move to a Me to We, Bigger to Better or Global to Local world … if we just slowed down. The global Slow Movement that began with its focus on food has now spread around the world as it challenges our hurry up culture and its obsession with speed. Out of the Slow Food initiative in Italy has grown other expressions of the Slow Movement: Slow Cities, Slow Work, Slow Leisure and Slow Childhood.

Both our health and health of the planet is at stake. Turbo capitalism and the cult of speed makes it easier to over work, over eat and over consume the very thing that supports us all — Nature and the services it provides. Interestingly enough, the fastest nations are also the fattest. No time to prepare a proper meal often leads to culinary short cuts — junk food and most fast foods and insufficient exercise.

In rushing around we skim the surface failing to make real connections with other people or the world. By slowing down we create the one thing we never have enough of — time. With time we have the magic ingredient in nurturing those things that are rich with meaning — friendship, family and community. Speed on the other hand offers a one way ticket to burnout for both us and the planet.

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