Take Time Off Like You Mean It

Take Time Off Like You Mean It

It was a rainy May night in Amsterdam, I’m two nights into my nine-day vacation, and I can’t handle it.

In the middle of the sidewalk, rain coming down on me, I froze. Stress is twitching my eyebrow and tears well up in my eyes. My boyfriend is concerned and asks me to share what’s happening. 

With this attention, the tears move quickly and the truth flows, “I don’t know how to be on vacation!” I exclaim, “I can’t relax!”

Twelve years ago I was so good at working that I froze up when faced with not working, even for nine days. Of course this made it hard for me to enjoy my vacation and, as I know today, the stress built up in my body was a festering ground for illness. 

Maybe you identify as a workaholic or you can identify a healthy sense of pride in how good you are at what you do. It’s needed. You’re needed in the role you play. In any company, the role of each individual is a necessary part of the whole, and how you function can propel the greater organization into success. And hopefully, every part of the whole, each employee benefits from the success through sustaining their jobs, monetary compensation, benefits and a sense of camaraderie. 

There’s a slippery slope that I was skiing, however, in my work-perfectionista days and it’s the one that led me to draw a blank when the command was to relax and enjoy.

In my coaching work, I often see this pattern in my perfectionist-workaholic clients: work hard and, right before vacation, work even harder! The window for self-care goes from small to non-existent and the excuse, “well, I’m going on vacation,” is the bargaining chip. 

Then what happens?

Sometimes it’s the freeze response that I had in Amsterdam. Oftentimes it’s sickness – a cold or a flu. “Why does my cold wait until I’m on vacation to get me?” 

The additional stress of trying to “earn” your time off or to look good, laying out the most orderly “while I’m away” plan with zero room for anyone managing minutia, lowers your immune response, making you more susceptible to illness and not being able to enjoy time off. 

In today’s work-from-home-world, taking off or even turning off, becomes increasingly more complex as work and home life share physical space. 

Whether you’re taking a weekend off or a week, I’ve written these tips to help you enjoy more of your time-off so that your time-on gets the refresh of inspiration and creativity needed to ace the role you play at work. 

1. Practice taking time off each day

Although it may be tempting to move from hitting your phone alarm to thumbing through your notifications, to answering emails and phone calls, I urge you to take back your morning. 

You can set your mind, attitude and day up for ease, peace and flow simply by taking a few minutes to yourself. 

A meditation or mindfulness practice is easiest to do in the morning because your mind is the least cluttered after sleeping. That said, any time you can schedule to take time off – with your phone in airplane mode and absolutely nothing to do except to allow yourself the space to sit, breathe, observe and be – you’ll be training yourself to be more present for life, more aware of change and more adaptable to time-off and time-on.

A helpful breathing practice that Peace Inside Your Workplace shares live on zoom is a deep inhale and exhale pattern through the nose, followed by a short breath-hold. This pattern of active breathing, followed by a pause, helps to soothe anxiety and builds flexibility in the chemoreceptors of the brain, which strengthens our ability to go into stress with a sense of ease and to check stress “at the door” when it’s time to turn off. 

Another helpful exercise for a moment of pause is this square-breathing technique. 

2. Set an intention for your time off and create the space

So you’ve made it to the hour, day, weekend or week off…now what? 

Anything worth doing is worth stopping for. In this “stopping” practice, take as little as one minute to envision the time you’re taking for yourself and how you’d like to feel in this time off. You can imagine the feeling, letting yourself relax in how you’d like to feel. This begins to train you to match this feeling over other feelings of stress, anxiety, worry, resentment, frustration, etc. 

You can take the “stopping” practice a step further by asking yourself any of these questions and either sharing the answer with a companion, friend or family or journaling your responses:

What is my intention for my time off? 

What does it look like when I take this time? What am I doing? What am I not doing?

What am I in control of that can make this time most enjoyable or enriching? 

If there was a single word or phrase to summarize how I’d like to feel during this time, what would it be?

3. Release perfection, have faith in who you are

In a state of striving for a place other than where you’re at right now, you can lose the plot of what you’re up to in the first place. 

If you’re reading this article, you’ve gotten yourself to a place where you’re curious and trying to be your best, healthy and well. You might even be in touch with a part of you that knows that there is great wisdom in the path you’ve chosen, in what interests you and in who you are, just as you are. 

I leave you with this inquiry on the journey: 

What would it be like to know that you are where you need to be and any answers you’re after are waiting for you to give them the time? 

All my best,

Jordana, Co-Founder Peace Inside Your Workplace

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Employee Movement Score – The New NPS for Talent Attraction?

Employee Movement Score – The New NPS for Talent Attraction?

What comes to mind when you think of wellness at work? An on-site gym facility? healthy snacks? Sit-stand desks? Wellness related subsidies, benefits or perks to help pay for programs to lose weight or quit smoking, or to pay for equipment like a treadmill? These are just some examples of what might be provided to employees by their employer to encourage healthy living and well-being. While mainstream ideas of wellness at work revolve around offerings like this, another key factor for ensuring wellness at work is specifically related to the on-premises experience, which aims to measure building health.

If you’re in Corporate Real Estate or in Human Resources, you’re likely aware of the WELL Certification – a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. The underlying premise of WELL is simply the understanding that unhealthy buildings can make people unhealthy.

While WELL is focused on making buildings healthy by bringing awareness to how they stack against WELL standards, they also reward organizations who provide options to employees to support movement. The WELL Movement concept promotes movement, physical activity and active living and discourages sedentary behaviors through environmental design strategies, programs and policies. But, while there are several opportunities to accumulate points towards WELL Certification in the Movement category, much of the opportunities are based on employer offerings such as providing amenities, equipment such as adjustable furniture like sit-stand desks or benefits/perks. Regardless, their success in driving and improving wellness depends entirely on an employees’ willingness to use the amenities, equipment and benefits/perks that are offered. This comprehensive list of Employee Benefits and Perks Statistics indicates that only 28% of employees are very confident they’re fully using their benefits confirming that the effectiveness of such programs resides with the employee.

The Gamification of Wellness

What if companies could compete for the healthiest workforce by reporting on aggregate movement metrics for their entire company. What if they could gamify their movement metrics by competing internally i.e., by team/department and also do so externally with companies in similar verticals?

A new KPI for companies who want to up their game in talent attraction and retention by promoting their movement score is emerging. Think of it as the new NPS-like score that is aimed at driving talent attraction rather than retention as their new competitive advantage.

For example, a future hire might be considering working for Bank A vs. Bank B. The future hire is a moderately active person but recognizes they do not want to work in a highly sedentary environment. By observing the movement score across different banks, they are empowered with the information they need to align themselves with a better suited opportunity that aligns with their overall values and goals, which can now also include health and wellness.

While not everyone will have a wearable device like a Fitbit or Apple Watch (nor will people who do, willingly want to share their personal information), companies could instead use sensors to aggregate already anonymous data captured for other CRE related purposes, to demonstrate where health and well-being ranks in their culture, based on a standardized metric like movement. A movement score like this one tells a story. It reveals how well employee flexibility and movement is supported.

Using Sensors for the Win

IoT sensors have been proliferating the tenant office space to help companies manage return to office protocols like restricted occupancy, social distancing and safe seats. Prior to the pandemic, occupancy sensors, people counters etc. were often installed in offices, with the sole purpose of capturing occupancy and utilization to inform seat demand, reducing and optimizing costly wasted workspace and more importantly, to inform workplace design.

Relogix sensors are unique in that they capture typical occupancy, utilization data but they also are able to capture dwell and churn data which are foundational for any portfolio, building, or floor level occupancy planning exercises, offering a level of accuracy that can’t be replicated with manual clipboard type studies which are often undertaken. The accuracy of information at the most granular level ensures the ability to aggregate the data up to suit the specific need. It also translates into proper efficiency sharing ratios that successfully optimize space when implemented, often yielding a reduction or recalibration of the square foot requirements committed to in a lease.

Dwell-time is a game changer. Relogix sensors which are heat and motion activated, can detect and validate presence at a seat anonymously, every 30 seconds, providing as close to a “real-time” snapshot of workspace occupancy and utilization. Where utilization observes the use of a space over time, standard utilization metrics do not reflect continuous use, but dwell time does. For example, in an 8-hour day, a seat may indicate it was 50% utilized reflecting a total of 4 hours of use. However, the 4 hours of use are not necessarily continuous hours (dwell).

Continuous dwell metrics validate whether those 4 hours were continuous, or if not, how many churns occurred. Each “break” between dwell times constitutes a churn. The ability to calculate in aggregate how many employees are sitting continuously for 1, 2 3, 4 hours or more is effectively translated into a highly valuable movement factor that is unique to only your company and driven 100% by the natural movement of your employees, without requesting the employees to share any highly personal information from their own devices.

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While today, sharing of personal information is not widely acceptable by most employees, with the emerging shift of where work happens, in the future, enabling employees who do care about their total health and well-being to opt-in to sharing such data would benefit employees and employers as they better understand the impact of movement on overall productivity. While individuals might be contributing to the big picture, the individual data is irrelevant as the data is aggregated for the company as a whole, enabling them to correlate movement to other KPIs like attrition and churn and absenteeism, to name a few.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit companies hard. Businesses and people have been rotating through lockdowns for over a year. When offices re-open, while occupancies might not get back to what they were for a very long time, if ever, we can anticipate that when people come to the office they won’t be doing so to sit at a desk, and if they do, they won’t be sitting for extended periods of time. Using sensors will provide the intelligence to inform your workplace strategy, but more importantly it will provide the insights that take your competitive advantage to a whole new level where the value of the well-being of your employees isn’t just words on a page, but a measurable and meaningful metric that will uniquely set your company apart.

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Creating Equitable Health Outcomes for All — Part 2

Creating Equitable Health Outcomes for All — Part 2

For years, many have written about health disparities, with many authors citing the importance of healthy foods and exercise, and how self-care reduces risks attributed to non-communicable illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. The medical system treats symptoms with a multitude of medicines that raise healthcare costs but leave people suffering because the system fails to treat causes. During the decades, many have failed to call out the underlying malignancy at the root of these diseases.

Racism creates illness. It’s the catalyst for poverty, homelessness, malnutrition, addiction disorders, violence, lack of access to preventive care, and high-level interventional misdiagnosis. Continued silence in the face of stark evidence encourages a status quo of neglect and inadequate care — a constant that kills. Throughout the generations, we have seen populations underrepresented in the care conversation. In public health, when we close our eyes to what is around us, death is invited into our communities. Health equity assumes that to address the urgencies of people’s care, doors are open to anyone with pressing medical needs. However, we now must recognize that this is not the case.

Among the most important solutions to addressing these vast public health challenges are the policies and processes we put in place around housing, hospital access and where we place employment opportunities. Reflects Rachel Hodgdon, International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) president and CEO:

Today, when it comes to Black and Latino people, we are behind in creating open, welcoming spaces that invite people to pursue career dreams and address health priorities. We are still drawing on a mindset from many decades past. For example, we have long heard the refrain “Blacks and Latinos are ‘predisposed’ to hypertension and diabetes.” As recently as 2011, authors wrote an article in the American Heart Association Journal Hypertension:

Studies have consistently reported a higher prevalence of hypertension in blacks than in whites, a main reason for the higher incidence of cardiovascular disease in blacks. The long list of putative causes for this higher prevalence suggests that the real reasons are still unknown. Biological differences in the mechanisms of blood pressure control or in the environment and habits of whites and blacks are among the potential causes. The higher prevalence of hypertension in blacks living in the United States instead of Africa demonstrates that environmental and behavioral characteristics are the more likely reasons for the higher prevalence in blacks living in the United States. They could act directly or by triggering mechanisms of blood pressure increase that are dormant in blacks living in Africa.

American Heart Association Journal (Hypertension)

Suggesting that the “real reasons” Black Americans experience a higher prevalence of hypertension, especially in comparison to Black Africans, are “still unknown” is blaming the victim. Perhaps the wording reflects an effort to be apolitical. But this is a conclusion that enables injustice to persist. Too many Black people in this country face poorer economic prospects than whites, poorer diet, and poorer access to care. No money, no healthy food, no decent care and no homes remote from areas that accrue greater value work net out quickly to a brutal cycle of poverty. And even the causes of these health disparities are only symptoms of the real, underlying condition: racism — no more and no less.

C. Virginia Fields, president and CEO, National Black Leadership Commission on Health, asks “Are we prepared as a nation to put in place systems that will address poverty, unemployment, racism? How do we address this through policies and budgets?”

Blacks are dying at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites. In New York City, the most densely populated place in America, 19% of residents — most of them people of color —live in poverty, while 17% live in overcrowded conditions. Is it any wonder then that the highest numbers of deaths from COVID-19 are among people of color who live in overcrowded conditions? And yet, the American Medical Association’s powerful report to its physician members — “Protecting public health & vulnerable populations in a pandemic” — discussed at-risk populations including the homeless, incarcerated, and impoverished, but failed to even mention people of color.

In the early 2000s, Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, who founded the Camden Coalition in New Jersey and now a voice for change within UnitedHealthcare, was determined to improve health care delivery in Philadelphia’s impoverished urban neighbor Camden. To do so, he pioneered the use of health care data to identify patients who needed frequent access to the city’s overtaxed and inaccessible medical system. Almost 20 years later he acknowledges that intensifying care to those with pressing needs is not enough. It requires a new mindset around health equity and safe space.

The key here is that navigation and coordination are important, but insufficient in and of themselves to improve outcomes.

Dr. Jeffrey Brenner

We must start with the fact that racism impacts health, even though it’s clearly the cause of multiple public health disasters. Going forward, our health system — filled with dedicated people who want to help sustain and save lives — must be mindful that structural and institutionalized racism are so entrenched that we have not seen them for what they are. It’s time to speak to and face reality: look closely enough and we see that health disparities come from racism; predisposition to disease comes from racism; poor access to care comes from racism.

This is among the many reasons why standards such as the IWBI health equity certification program are important to creating open and welcoming spaces for all people – but especially for people of color who have been shut out previously and have pressing needs.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) calls upon investors, planners, engineers and developers to be held accountable for creating places that support people’s health. Joining Dr. Brenner and IWBI’s Rachel Hodgdon, RWJF tasks decision makers to take into account four pressing questions in planning communities that address health equities:

  1. How can investments in urban revitalization and infrastructure advance health, equity and the public good?
  2. What are the key policy strategies and practices that address the roots of inequality and support healthier and more inclusive housing, transportation, utilities and open space systems?
  3. How can cities foster a shared sense of community to build infrastructure that serves the public interest?
  4. How can citizen science and data be used to promote equitable development and community-driven solutions?

Along with keeping these questions in mind, we must also recognize that the fight against racism is constant. It isn’t something that will ever be fixed once we reach a threshold; it is a process that those of us who are privileged and white must constantly work toward, but will never be through with. We need to push for policies and continued conversation to “Break the collective habit of racism and build resilience for racial equity in ourselves and our organizations,” as Dr. S. Atyai Martin, CEM, advocates in her book “We are the Question + the Answer.”

Only when we work to meet the needs of those whose needs are greatest can we make progress. On my part, I commit to actively fighting the epidemic of racism. Together, we must work to address the underlying cause of many of our public health crises with truthful words and actions that get to the heart of the problem.

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Gil Bashe, managing partner, Finn Partners, Global Health, serves as an ambassador for the health innovation sector and is included among the Medika Life “Top 50 Health Influencers,” Medical Marketing & Media “Top 10 Innovation Catalysts” and ranked as a “Top 10 Digital Health Influencer.” Gil is co-chair of the International WELL Building Institute Health Equity Sub-Committee, and is a correspondent for Health Tech World, writing on digital health advances. Prior to FINN, he led Health Practices at other agencies—Sutton PR, Medicus PR, Hill & Knowlton, and Makovsky—which were all selected by The Holmes Report/PRovoke as “Most Admired Health Agencies.” Earlier in his career, he worked in government affairs for a global non-profit, spent time as a health-industry state lobbyist focusing on drug development and environmental health, served as Group Company CEO of CommonHealth and was CEO of Health!Quest Global Communications (the portfolio company of top private-equity group GTCR). As an advocate for health innovation that improves the human condition, Gil currently serves on the Decentralized Trials and Research Alliance, CNS Summit Leadership Council, Galien Foundation, Let’s Win for Pancreatic Cancer, mHealth Israel, and Marfan Foundation advisory boards and previously on boards for the American Heart Association, Leukemia & Lymphoma Foundation, and American Academy of Pain Medicine Foundation. Listed among “The Top Brains in the New World of Work” by Fast Company, recognized by the PRSA Health Academy for “Excellence in Public Relations,” selected for the PR News “Hall of Fame” and is the recipient of the PM360 “Trailblazer Lifetime Achievement Award.”

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Creating Equitable Health Outcomes for All — Part 1

Creating Equitable Health Outcomes for All — Part 1

There’s no denying that every system in the United States is inequitable. Health disparities in BIPOC communities are highly prevalent and have become even more apparent during the pandemic. The IWBI Health Equity Advisory is leading a multi-faceted strategy tapping into the expertise of the WELL community to identify and scale strategies that address global health inequities in buildings, businesses, and communities. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, health equity means increasing opportunities for everyone to live the healthiest life possible, no matter who we are, where we live, or how much money we make. Here are four things that must be done to create equitable, affordable, and accessible health outcomes for all.

Fair access to COVID-19 resources, vaccination, and care

COVID-19 has highlighted the systemic disparity and disproportionate access to healthcare that under-represented communities endure. As of 2018, BIPOC were more likely than whites to forgo needed medical care because of the cost.

“What’s most important is that trusted community sources step up and activate to increase education and access to COVID-19 vaccinations within BIPOC communities,” says Kimberly Lewis, Co-Chair of the IWBI Health Equity Advisory, former Senior Vice President for market transformation and development in North America at the U.S. Green Building Council, and the 2011 receiver of the prestigious White House Champion of Change for Clean Energy award.

She notes that faith communities play a vital role in debunking COVID-19 myths. “I’m proud to see churches as vaccination sites and also providing food and support during the pandemic.”

Clean, potable water for all

The lack of access to potable water contributes gravely to health disparities within the United States. Lewis recently joined the board of Elevate Energy which launched programs in five Midwestern cities to address equitable access to affordable and clean water in BIPOC and aging communities. Over 42 percent of non-elderly individuals living in the States are BIPOC.

Lewis summarizes the research Elevate Energy recently published in their report, Water Affordability in Northeastern Illinois: Addressing Water Equity in a Time of Rising Costs — “Elevate has found that energy and water burdens affect frontline communities the most,” Lewis says. “The main challenges are an aging water infrastructure in need of replacement, sharp decline in federal support, population changes as immigrant communities shift out of insecurity, and rising input costs.”

She notes that there’s a disproportionate burden of higher bills in non-white majority and senior population areas. To resolve this ongoing crisis, Lewis suggests that health and human services assistance programs must “address resident sensitivity to the implications of water shut-offs in health, dignity, and respect.” From her work with Elevate Energy, she believes that a long-term strategy should be developed by bringing utilities, water advocates, and focus groups together to analyze challenges, research the impact of water debt, and identify where the burden continues to exist.

City planning should focus on community health

To create equitable health outcomes for all, cities and buildings must address inequities in the system that hinder sustainable communities. “Since the 19th century, and exacerbated by redlining in the 20th century, cities systematically under-invested in BIPOC communities, with few trees, and paved over green spaces with impervious tracts of low-cost asphalt,” Lewis says. “That leads to flooding, air pollution, and extreme summer heat.”

As city surfaces are dark (such as rooftops and parking lots), cities can be at least 10 degrees hotter in the summer, especially in low-income and minority neighborhoods. This leads to extreme heat, which is the leading cause of weather-related death in the States—more than natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes. “Disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable community members, heat extremes are particularly deadly in densely populated urban centers,” Lewis says.

“These patterns of urban inequality imposed on the most vulnerable populations damage the health and upward mobility of a large part of society. Our pathway forward towards removing these systemic barriers and creating restorative communities can be solutioned by addressing this environmental injustice,” Lewis says.

Lewis points to individuals and organizations leading efforts to reduce and eliminate these systemic inequities, like the work David Bowers is doing at Enterprise Community Partners and the Smart Surfaces Coalition. Through David’s work at Enterprise, he has spearheaded various initiatives such as: GreenPath (initiative preserving affordable and green housing near transit nodes) and D.C. Green Communities Initiative (seeking to institutionalize sustainable and equitable practices).

Prioritize Green Building

After leaving USGBC, Lewis founded Havenz Network, launching her own consulting company where she will continue her work in equity, sustainability, and the healthy building movement. As discussed in her self-published article, Revival of Green, Lewis states that the broader sustainability and healthy building movement can support a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive future by reforming and reviving the entire industry governance structure. Lewis has found that although the sustainability industry was founded to be an ‘epicenter of healing and building bridges for community’ it needs to repair what’s broken. “We can design and operate better by re-forming the leaders of the sustainability industry,” she says.

Performative alliances aren’t making a difference in green building—or anywhere else. “Structural and institutional racism has resulted in a deep lack of diversity amongst sustainability professionals that is reflected across the industry,” Lewis says. Instead, she hopes leaders from the communities being served will lead sustainable strategies.

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A building risk-management expert from CETEC joins us to explain how your workplace can be a powerful buffer protecting you and your family from danger. Get informed and ready to take your health into your own hands, delegating that power only when you see compelling assurances. Because well-being is your human right, regardless of how you choose to earn your living.

Lola Méndez

Lola is an independent journalist whose work has been published in many print and digital publications including CNN, Reader’s Digest, Parade, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Oprah Magazine, Architectural Digest, and more. After calling New York City home for seven years, Lola developed a necessity to become a citizen of the world. She left the States in 2015 and became a full-time globe trotter. During her travels, she’s visited over 60 countries. Lola travels to develop her own worldview and understanding of the globe’s many cultures. Lola is also a dedicated sustainability advocate. She seeks out ethical tourism experiences that benefit local communities. In addition, she is a 200-hour trained yoga teacher, practices mindfulness, lives with minimal waste, and has been plant-based for 13 years.

The WELL Learning Library Supports Organizations in Achieving Their Health and Wellness Goals

Qigong: A Healing Art as a “Life Force”

Qigong: A Healing Art as a “Life Force”

Holistic health and fitness has been a huge part of my life, both from the perspective of accomplishment, as well as healing and overall health and wellbeing. I love seeing the transformation my clients go through and how sharing what I have learned so far in this lifetime makes a positive difference for others. It gives me a sense of purpose and is one of the most rewarding things that I know.

A large part of my holistic health journey started in 2011, when I was dealing with severe health issues, chronic knee and joint pains and an under-functioning thyroid. I had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and western doctors told me that I’d have to take a medication every day for the rest of my life because there was no cure.

After years of pushing my body to its limit in the fitness industry, as a body builder and cover model, my body started to take a toll. I wasn’t living a balanced life, even though I thought it was a healthy one. The stress on my body caused an autoimmune disease called vasculitis. I was treated with several different drugs to suppress my immune system. This, in turn, had an effect on both my thyroid and my adrenal glands. I couldn’t function as a normal human being unless I was taking thyroid medication. 

The thyroid is a gland that controls the function of all the organs in the body including your metabolism by releasing hormones. When it doesn’t work properly, it affects your entire body, including your organs, digestion, hormones, energy levels, and overall wellbeing. In a nutshell, I was a mess. Even though it seemed impossible, I had heard that the body has the ability to heal itself and I chose to believe that. My new mission was to figure out how.

I started researching Chinese medicine and what in the western world is called “alternative healing modalities,” even though these practices have been around for several thousand years.

Through my research, I discovered QiGong. I was introduced to the art and practice by a QiGong Medical practitioner and Grandmaster of the art, Grandmaster Zhou Ting Jue (aka Master Zhou). At first, I thought I would have to travel to China to meet him, but it turned out he moved to Los Angeles 30 years ago and was teaching QiGong and offering QiGong healing treatments. Master Zhou had learned this ancient practice at age 7 from an uncle in China, and he grew up in temples. He studied and practiced daily in the temples of the legendary Wudang Mountains, which I have been blessed to visit. Today Master Zhou is 83 and living a happy and healthy life. 

QiGong is one of 3 healing arts in China, along with acupuncture and herbology. Qi means “life force”. The life force that is in all living beings and in nature all around us. Gong translates to “cultivation”. The full translation of QiGong means “life force cultivation”. It is an ancient moving meditation involving, movement, breath and intention. The purpose of QiGong is to align, build and balance one’s “Qi”, meaning one’s life force.

The belief is that when your Qi is balanced, the body functions at its optimal level and will restore all the cells and functions in the body for healing to occur. The benefits go beyond healing, we can see that in the feats of the Shaolin monks who can do remarkable things with their bodies.

I started seeing Master Zhou once a week for treatment. Without telling him what was wrong with me in the first session, he diagnosed the problem and through his translator told me that my Qi was imbalanced particularly around my Thyroid. I explained that I was on a medication, and Master Zhou told me to take half my medication for the first two weeks, then stop it completely. He invited me to come and learn QiGong with him once a week with the requirement that I practice every day on my own. At that point, I committed myself to his teachings and became his student.

Within 3 months my thyroid normalized itself and I haven’t been on any medication since. Not only did my thyroid recover, but all chronic pains I was dealing with have vanished over the years.

I have been a student of Qigong ever since and I can say, without a doubt, that I can do things physically that would have been impossible in 2011. In 2016 I was blessed to represent the United States and win the martial arts World Championship in the art of Escrima/Arnis; a Martial Art from the Philippines that you see in films such as the Bourne Identity, Deadpool and many other popular action movies.

I feel better today than I can ever remember, both physically, mentally and emotionally. I credit the daily practice of QiGong, holistic nutrition and exercise.

I am excited to bring QiGong to the WELL Learning Library because it is an amazing platform that allows many people access to extraordinary health, fitness and wellbeing modalities. I believe this is important to a balanced life, especially in a world where stress has become a norm, increasing the importance of having practices, like the ones offered on the WELL Learning Library, to cultivate a strong and balanced mind, body and spirit.

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Creating Equitable Health Outcomes for All — Part 2

Health equity assumes that to address the urgencies of people’s care, doors are open to anyone with pressing medical needs. However, we now must recognize that this is not the case. The solutions to addressing these vast public health challenges must include the policies and processes we put in place around housing, hospital access and where we place employment opportunities.

Creating Equitable Health Outcomes for All — Part 1

Health disparities in BIPOC communities are highly prevalent and have become even more apparent during the pandemic. With input from Kimberly Lewis (a leader in the equity and sustainability space), this article considers four things that must be done to create equitable, affordable, and accessible health outcomes for all.

How to Avoid Greenwashing in Wellness

There’s a plethora of confusing marketing jargon in the wellness industry… To avoid greenwashing, look for wellness brands that are authentically environmental stewards and that provide clear sustainability policies outlined on their website with a detailed FAQ explaining how the product is sourced, created, packaged, and shipped.

Lighting & Creativity: A Conversation with Trent Reznor

The WELL Learning Library recently coordinated a conversation with Global Wave Integration and Trent Reznor of NIN (Nine Inch Nails) to reflect on how lighting impacts our creativity. This real world example is based on the lighting systems that Global Wave Integration installed in Trent’s home studio.

Tomm Voss

Tomm Voss is an actor, stuntman, world champion Martial Artist, public speaker and a professional holistic fitness consultant who has worked with major Fitness publications and with CBS on popular television shows as well as American TV ads revolving around fitness. After achieving several international fitness-related awards and PROPTA certifications, Tomm is currently spending much of his time devoted to Qigong teaching as well as teaching the art of communication to kids.

The WELL Learning Library Supports Organizations in Achieving Their Health and Wellness Goals

How to Avoid Greenwashing in Wellness

How to Avoid Greenwashing in Wellness

There’s a plethora of confusing marketing jargon in the wellness industry that leaves customers confused and falling victim to purchasing not-quite-as-they-seem products. One of the most jarring aspects of ill-intentioned marketing is greenwashing—a branding trick that uses keywords associated with genuinely sustainable products to fool customers into believing the offering is more eco-friendly than it is. Greenwashed brands are tapping into the ever-growing trend of sustainability without evidence of their so-called green credentials. It can be challenging to know what red flags to look for when trying to decipher if your wellness purchase is truly sustainable. Here’s how to avoid greenwashing in wellness.

The wellness industry is all about encouraging folks to use natural products that will improve their quality of life. If a product touts green claims such as organic, all-natural, cruelty-free, and biodegradable but only provides vague information to support the claims, it’s likely clever greenwashing. Truly eco-conscious wellness brands will back up any claims about their sustainable practices by clearly outlining the company’s eco standards. They may also have carbon offsetting programs and charitable foundations.

Any product can say that it’s been made with organic ingredients as long as just one of the ingredients is organic. The same applies to products that claim they’re plant-based, all-natural, or grass-fed. If you can’t comprehend the ingredient list DM the company on social media asking them to explain exactly what is in the item and to verify whether or not all ingredients are organic, natural, or vegan. It’s also worth keeping in mind that cruelty-free is only about animal testing, it doesn’t imply that the product was made ethically nor does it assure that your purchase didn’t exploit workers.

In addition to confirming the ingredients, take into consideration the packaging of the product. Biodegradable packaging is a common form of greenwashing as not many of us have the industrial machinery needed at home to break down the biodegradable materials. A better option is compostable packaging that clearly states how long it takes to degrade in an at-home compost.

To avoid greenwashing, look for wellness brands that are authentically environmental stewards and that provide clear sustainability policies outlined on their website with a detailed FAQ explaining how the product is sourced, created, packaged, and shipped. Consider the distance the wellness product has to travel to arrive at your doorstep. It doesn’t do much good if something is truly made sustainably and eco-friendly but the packaging produces excess carbons from long-distance shipping. Many eco-conscious brands will utilize carbon-neutral shipping options from UPS and DHL.

The most assured way to feel confident that you’re making a truly eco-conscious purchase is to shop from wellness brands that have been vetted by a third-party organization such as certified Fair Trade, Fair Tax Mark, Certified Humane, or B-Corp. Third-party clean certifications include Leaping Bunny, COSMOS EcoCert, EWG Verified, and MyMicrobiome. The brands that have received this accreditation after meeting the rigorous criteria will proudly display the logo of the third party on their packaging or website.

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Lighting & Creativity: A Conversation with Trent Reznor

The WELL Learning Library recently coordinated a conversation with Global Wave Integration and Trent Reznor of NIN (Nine Inch Nails) to reflect on how lighting impacts our creativity. This real world example is based on the lighting systems that Global Wave Integration installed in Trent’s home studio.

Reinhabiting Our Spaces. Safely.

A building risk-management expert from CETEC joins us to explain how your workplace can be a powerful buffer protecting you and your family from danger. Get informed and ready to take your health into your own hands, delegating that power only when you see compelling assurances. Because well-being is your human right, regardless of how you choose to earn your living.

A Nutrition Label for Your Building — WELL V2

WELL is like a nutrition label for the buildings where we Live, Learn, and Work! WELL takes a holistic approach to health in the built environment; addressing occupant behavior and building operations, policies, procedures, and design.

Lola Méndez

Lola is an independent journalist whose work has been published in many print and digital publications including CNN, Reader’s Digest, Parade, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Oprah Magazine, Architectural Digest, and more. After calling New York City home for seven years, Lola developed a necessity to become a citizen of the world. She left the States in 2015 and became a full-time globe trotter. During her travels, she’s visited over 60 countries. Lola travels to develop her own worldview and understanding of the globe’s many cultures. Lola is also a dedicated sustainability advocate. She seeks out ethical tourism experiences that benefit local communities. In addition, she is a 200-hour trained yoga teacher, practices mindfulness, lives with minimal waste, and has been plant-based for 13 years.

The WELL Learning Library Supports Organizations in Achieving Their Health and Wellness Goals

Lighting & Creativity: A Conversation with Trent Reznor

Lighting & Creativity: A Conversation with Trent Reznor

Whether you are in business, an artist, or a stay at home mom (or dad), we all use creativity throughout our lives. Creativity can be used for painting, acting, composing new music, designing a new business application, developing a new manufacturing process, figuring out how to get your toddler to eat their vegetables … the list goes on and on. This may or may not have been obvious, but I think what is less obvious is how the environment we are in affects our creativity.

The space around us has a tremendous impact on our mood, mental state, focus, productivity, and yes creativity! If we are indoors, there are many things that contribute to the overall design esthetics and spatial elements of our environment. I recently learned how lighting has an enormous impact on our creativity.

The WELL Learning Library recently coordinated a conversation with with Global Wave Integration and Trent Reznor of NIN (Nine Inch Nails) to reflect on how lighting impacts our creativity. This real world example is based on the lighting systems that Global Wave Integration installed in Trent’s home studio. 

Read the full analysis and conversation below.

Want to Implement Custom Lighting?

Reinhabiting Our Spaces. Safely.

Reinhabiting Our Spaces. Safely.

While rationally, we know that the coronavirus is the “bad actor” here – not our office, gym, or favorite restaurant – but how do we actually parse it out in practice?

How do we safely reclaim the workplaces that connect, enable, and nourish us?

What should we ask for in order to feel assured of our safety?

And what can we do about facets we cannot control?

To start, we must accept that coming together may never be what it was before this pandemic – and this news may offer as much comfort as a cool drink on the roof of a burning building. The good news: over the last two decades, a robust community of both science and practice has understood the outsized impact that the built environment has on our health and wellbeing, driven in part by most of us spending 90%+ of our lives indoors. Furthermore, these experts have commenced using this knowledge to influence both policy and industry practice. So, off that burning roof, you’ll be landing not only onto a safety net but into a new reality in which buildings can and must act as powerful vehicles for public health.

How can we come back safely?

Buildings are inherently about people because people need shelter – and have figured how to make a delightful feat of it. So, just like our buildings don’t consume water or emit carbon – it is people whose activities do so – buildings don’t inherently pose a COVID-19 danger. The coronavirus seeks hosts and that is people, not buildings. So, buildings are merely “petri dishes” for the virus carried by people – and can be deployed in a counterattack.

What does this mean? That your workplace is safe if it has done everything reasonable to prevent human-to-human transmission.

What should you be asking of your workplace?

(1) COVID-19 Risk Management Plan

Ask to see how your workplace plans on mitigating the risks it faces based on the science of the coronavirus. This is likely to cover:

  • Cleaning: Coronavirus lives longer on some surfaces than others, so check that your workplace’ disinfection protocol accounts not only for both viral and bacterial contagion but also for how to best eliminate both from each surface type.
  • HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) system: Since the coronavirus is contracted through inhalation, you don’t want to breathe the air already breathed by another person who may be infected even if asymptomatic. As such, your workplace may commit to 100% outside air, open its windows, change how it replaces air filters, maintain optimum humidity, etc.
  • Behavior: “Social distancing” has taught us a lot about the role of behavior in curbing disease transmission. Protocols should limit occupant density, contact behavior (no handshakes), and measures to limit transmission (no-touch elevator buttons, disinfecting supplies).
  • Training: ask that any new ways of doing things be universally enabled.
  • Ideally, this plan will be verified by a qualified third party.
Cleaning Surfaces
Cleaning Protocols
Air Filtration
Air Filtration
Social Distancing
"Social Distancing"

(2) Certificate of Cleaning Method:

An independent verification that your space is cleaned and maintained in accordance with best-practice infection control protocols/standards.

(3) Validation of safe (re)occupancy:

An independent confirmation, via surface swabbing and a review of operational protocols, that your space meets safety and infection control regulations & guidelines for occupation.

(4) Ongoing monitoring:

Regular and transparent testing and reporting (including any curative measures) of what measures are taken to keep your space safe.

(5) Remote work:

Secure the freedom and ability (technology and ergonomics) to work remotely, esp. if your workplace isn’t able to demonstrate the evidence recommended above.

Certificate of Cleaning Method
Building Sensors & Monitoring
Working Remotely

What can you control directly?

While you can – and should – demand spaces that make you feel and be better, you don’t have full control and that can cause anxiety before you even turn the news on. It is widely understood that stress and anxiety are counterproductive to our immune system. So, what can you do to help yourself thrive in these unprecedented circumstances?

(1) Knowledge:

Secure the freedom and ability (technology and ergonomics) to work remotely, esp. if your workplace isn’t able to demonstrate the evidence recommended above.

(2) Exert constructive pressure…

Knowledge truly is power, especially over your anxiety. Know how the coronavirus is transmitted (through inhaling or ingesting it, e.g. as an airborne viral droplet or through contact with infected surfaces). Also know the difference between cleaning (physical removal of particles like dust, which can coat the virus, making it resistant to disinfection), sanitization (indiscriminately kills living organisms), and disinfection (de-activates pathogens).

(3) Control your workspace.

Make sure that your workstation is cleaned and disinfected – do it yourself if need be (hopefully disinfectants are provided to you) and if that’s not possible, advocate for yourself to continue to work remotely.

(4) Eat/drink well.

For most Americans, food (and drink) are firmly linked to our stress responses. But while (habit, nostalgia) you are probably craving sugars, other carbs, and alcohol, they mess with your gut bacteria and that’s where your immune powers live. So, if you can’t retrain your palette, look for non-ingestible ways to show kindness and compassion to yourself.

(5) Bask in the sunlight.

If the sun’s out, take a few moments to ground yourself in that spot, look up, and take a few deep breaths. It will help you absorb calcium and calibrate your circadian rhythm for better sleep, which underpins your immune system.

(6) Exercise.

Enough said. If you’re still not doing it, ask yourself why and chip away at the obstacles.

(7) Meditate.

Biologically, uncertainty is only exciting if we ultimately control the outcome. Otherwise, it is outright stressful – which is why many of us are losing quality sleep. So, any effort that reminds you that your mind is only one part of who you are, subservient to how you want to live through this, may be helpful.

If this is so complex, why even bother?

I see at least four reasons:

(1) Homes often make inferior workpaces.

Whether it is ergonomics, daylight access, or air quality – not to mention distractions – our workplaces have evolved much further than our homes in enabling both our wellbeing and productivity. Sitting in front of your screen for hours is proven to contribute to chronic disease.

(2) We are social creatures.

We’ve evolved to receive only about 10% of our input verbally. This means that stripped of body language and chemical signals we are wired to process unconsciously, we’re hugely limiting our ability for both bonding and good judgment.

(3) Workplaces can even out the playing field.

While inadvertent socio-demographic discrimination of lock-down orders may be obvious (it is easier to manage at a country holiday house), they may also be punishing parents: if their productivity drops while they juggle home-schooling, their careers may get trampled by childless colleagues working at 200% pace to wade of boredom.

(4) New good habits.

We are so used to reading food labels and looking both ways when crossing the road that it no longer takes away from the joy of eating or strolling through the city. Occupying our spaces more consciously is a habit worth forming because it will allow us to demand spaces that make us feel and be better – and that’s a daily investment into our future.

Summary

Your workplace can be a powerful buffer protecting you and your family from danger. Get informed and ready to take your health into your own hands, delegating that power only when you see compelling assurances. Because well-being is your human right, regardless of how you choose to earn your living.

Elena Bondareva

Elena is Vice President - Growth for CETEC, an international building science firm with an unparalleled track record – across 32 years and 25 countries – in assessing and optimizing occupant wellbeing and productivity within the built environment, currently focused on assuring safe (re)occupancy of our spaces. For more info on CETEC's services, click below.

The WELL Learning Library Supports Organizations in Achieving Their Health and Wellness Goals

Navigating COVID-19: Awareness & Resources

Navigating COVID-19: Awareness & Resources

Most of us have been recommended or directed to stay home with the goal of mitigating the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Of course, leaving your house for “essential” business or personal matters are allowed, such as: performing “essential” jobs, going to the bank, and picking up groceries, food, or medications.

There is so much information out there, and at the WELL Learning Library, we realize it is difficult to sift through it all. The intention of this blog article is to provide some useful, quick glance visuals with guidance around the following:

  1. Preventing the Spread of Germs
  2. “Social” (Physical) Distancing
  3. When to Use a Mask
  4. How to Use a Mask

1. Preventing the Spread of Germs

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends these 7 steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

These preventive actions can keep you healthy, as well as the people you live with. 

By applying these guidelines to your daily habits, we can all help to create a safe and healthy world for ourselves and everyone around us.

This one minute video from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides quick guidelines on how you can prevent the spread of germs and COVID-19. 

2. "Social" (Physical) Distancing

Use the right/left arrows to scroll through 5 quick slides on social distancing. These guidelines on social distancing are from the WHO.

3. When to use a mask...

The CDC updated its guidelines on April 3rd, 2020 to wear a mask in public places.

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

More information on wearing face masks, including how to make them and how to effectively wear them can be found on the CDC Website.

4. How to Use a Mask...

When you do wear a mask, how you wear it is very important. Wearing a mask incorrectly can (in certain cases) make you more vulnerable to catching the virus or other illnesses. The WHO recommends the following best practices when wearing a mask.

Got a question about COVID-19? Email us.

Mental Health Awareness & Resources

Introduction

More and more people are being diagnosed with Mental Health conditions each and every year. According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, about 1 out of 5 adults (ages 18+) reports some kind of mental illness each year1. There are over 200 types of mental illnesses. The American Psychiatric Association provides a full list of these illness here.

The most common mental illnesses2 are:

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Disruptive Behavior Disorders
  • Depression & Other Mood Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Personality Disorders
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia Spectrum & Other Psychotic Disorders
  • Substance Use Disorders

You are not alone

If you have experienced or are currently experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is important to recognize that you may have a mental health condition, and you should see your primary care provider or mental health professional. Mental illness can get worse over time, so it is important not to wait. It is also important to understand that you are not alone. Mental illnesses are quite common and most are fully treatable.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the following symptoms may be signs of a mental health condition3:

  • Feeling sad or down
  • Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
  • Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
  • Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
  • Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
  • Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
  • Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
  • Problems with alcohol or drug use
  • Major changes in eating habits 
  • Sex drive changes
  • Excessive anger, hostility or violence
  • Suicidal thinking

Ask for help if you need it

There is no shame in asking for help. If you think or feel like you need help, ASK! Here are some organizations that provide resources you can reach out to directly if you or a loved one is need of support.

Mental Health Resources

The following are intended to give you quick access to mental health information and resources.

NIH provides a list of resources to support you in finding help for you, a friend, or family members. Resources include getting help in a crisis, finding a healthcare provider or treatment, and others.
The American Psychiatric Association has an easy-to-use lookup tool to help you find psychiatrists in your area. Click below to access the lookup tool.

NAMI has a robust list, including: helplines, suicide & crisis hotlines, financial assistance, advocacy & legal, and community support.

Adventist Health Leading the WELL Movement

Adventist Health Leading the WELL Movement

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Nina Curtis who is the Director & Executive Chef at Adventist Health’s headquarters in Roseville, CA. I was so impressed by the wellness, nutrition, and educational programs that Nina and Adventist Health are creating for their associates (they refer to employees as associates). It is a true testament to the organization’s commitment to employee health and well-being.

Adventist Health has registered for the WELL Building Standard (WELL) Portfolio program, the world’s leading health-focused building standard, enabling organizations to enhance their spaces and improve human well-being at scale. The organization plans to leverage and apply best practices of WELL to their more than 20 hospitals and more than 400 medical office buildings across the western United States.

We have our Human Performance Model here at Adventist Health, and it parallels and works so well with WELL because everything we do as a company is about creating an environment so that every associate can come to work and if they are willing to take the benefit (and how far they are willing to take the benefit), they can be their best.

As Director and Executive Chef, Nina is responsible for the creation and operation of their new plant-based healthy cafe at Roseville HQ, called the Vitaliz Cafe. She is also responsible for the creation and programming at the Teaching Kitchen, which provides educational opportunities to Adventist Health’s associates around healthy cooking, eating, and meal prep.

It is clear to me that through these initiatives and programs, Adventist Health is not only making employee wellness a core part of their organizational culture, they are also expanding the presence of learning, education, and awareness throughout their organization.

I think one of the most inspiring things with the WELL nourishment (concept) is the opportunity to have a forum to create awareness.

It is great to see companies and employers investing in infrastructure that supports their people. It is especially great to see a healthcare organization like Adventist Health make their employee well-being a top priority and commitment. After all, if their people aren’t thriving at their best, how can they provide top notch health care services to others? 

Are you interested in listening to the full interview with Nina? 

Jeff Allen - Founder + CEO

Jeff Allen

Jeff is an avid entrepreneur, technologist, and eLearning expert. He is a graduate of Stanford University with a background in consulting, product management, leadership coaching, and learning & development. As founder and CEO of the WELL Learning Library, he has joined his passion for education with his passion for health & wellness. He is leading the expansion of the WELL Learning Library and furthering the educational offerings of the International WELL Building Standard, contributing to the health and wellness of human beings across the globe.

Sustainability Abroad: The “Trash Problem” on Islands

Sustainability Abroad: The “Trash Problem” on Islands

I recently visited three continents over the span of three weeks during a trip that was half leisure and half business. At each of these destinations, I saw things that piqued my curiosity about the future of our planet, the viability of increasing the health and well-being of human beings, and the opportunities for creating sustainable communities. 

As someone who is a relative newbie to the sustainability community (having attended my first Greenbuild conference in 2018), I try to keep an open mind as I learn a multitude of new topics and contribute, while I still can, from somewhat of an “outsiders” perspective. As I educate myself about the planet, the built environment, human health and wellness, and the intersection of all three, I take in as much as possible in every environment I encounter, and how these environments impact the people living in them and ultimately the world.

Destination: Bali, Indonesia

I was and am grateful for the opportunity to visit Bali, an island part of the Indonesian archipelago with just over 4 million people. The island is about 95 miles across and 70 miles north to south. It is a destination like none other, and one I would highly recommend visiting, but that’s a topic for a completely different article.

The moment you exit the airport, you encounter locals trying to make a days wage by picking you up and driving you to wherever you want to go. During your first car ride, motorbikes zoom around you, filling the streets, and appear to pay little attention to whatever traffic laws exist. I was shocked that I did not see an accident the entire time I was there, but maybe they just have far superior driving skills to those of Americans. Sidewalks are very small and almost non-existent, especially as you reach the outskirts of the major city, Denpasar.

As we journeyed out of Denpasar and towards Ubud (made famous by the movie Eat Pray Love), I couldn’t help but notice people burning their trash on the side of the road. I saw trash on fire in ditches and medium sized buckets ablaze, both sending smoke into the sky. It was a relatively small thing to notice for an “outsider” of the sustainability community, but I couldn’t help but ask certain questions. Why are they doing this? What’s the impact of burning these materials on the environment? On the air quality for the people? Why don’t they put the garbage out to be picked up and sent to a landfill and/or recycling facility?

I came to learn that on a relatively small island without modern recycling and waste disposal infrastructure, that many of us have come to take for granted in more modernized countries, people do what they have to. “Garbage Day” doesn’t exist there for private residences. So when the garbage fills up, Balinese households do the only thing that they can to get rid of it, throw it on the street or burn it. 40% of the 3,800 metric tons of garbage produced daily on the island is dumped on the streets, beaches and rivers, or incinerated.

Throughout my time in Bali, it became clear to me that the Balinese locals weren’t burning trash because they were unaware of the impact, it was simply the only way they could find to get rid of it. While I was out seeing various sights and in need of hydration, I would purchase a large bottle of water. Purchasing plastic bottles is something I try my best not to do anymore knowing that they are no longer being recycled (only 9% of plastics ever produced has been recycled); however, in Bali I wanted to avoid drinking tap water to prevent the possibility of getting sick from potential bacteria in the water.

I remember after finishing a bottle of water and stopping for lunch, I asked if they could dispose of my plastic bottle. When I did this, the local Balinese waiter looked at me like I was crazy. Ultimately, she took the bottle from me, but I could tell she was extremely reluctant in doing so. Later it dawned on me why she hesitated so much. She knew that there was no way for her (or the restaurant) to “dispose” of this bottle. They would likely have to burn it and burning plastic might possibly be one of the worst things for the environment. I felt horrible after having this realization, and throughout the rest of the trip I made a conscious effort to not buy plastic and to limit my footprint and impact on this island that was graciously providing me with the vacation of a lifetime. 

The Balinese people are amazing, and during my stay, I came to realize through my experiences that they are very resourceful and make use of every last bit of material that they can. From the way they use bamboo in their building construction, to how they weave various leaves into baskets and other products. I mean just look at this “floating breakfast” that was made for us where almost every material has been or was reused. The Balinese utilize composting and even reuse and repurpose glass bottles through a process called upcycling.

Another example is how they are taking empty beverage cartons and breaking them down to recycle the various parts. The paperboard (75%) is turned into recycled paper. The polyethylene plastic (20%) and aluminum foil (5%) are recycled into a roofing material called polyroof, which is a strong, durable and heat-resistant roof made from 100% recycled material.

Bali is an amazing paradise. Unfortunately, tourism and population growth is turning the “trash problem” there into an emergency situation. Waste Collection, Composting, and Waste Bank services are emerging to address the problem. Organizations like EcoBali are trying to educate the population further about the dire problem, but being on an isolated island, makes the problem all the more difficult to solve.

As we look to the future, governments, NGOs, international organizations, and each of us as individuals must address critical issues impacting the human race such as: climate change, population growth, pollution, and waste. Bali is an example of a relatively small, yet popular tourist destination surrounded by water, making many of these issues particularly critical.

Jeff Allen - Founder + CEO

Jeff Allen

Jeff is an avid entrepreneur, technologist, and eLearning expert. He is a graduate of Stanford University with a background in consulting, product management, leadership coaching, and learning & development. As founder and CEO of the WELL Learning Library, he has joined his passion for education with his passion for health & wellness. He is leading the expansion of the WELL Learning Library and furthering the educational offerings of the International WELL Building Standard, contributing to the health and wellness of human beings across the globe.