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Connect with nature for World Environment Day

The Clay Family Eastern Glades will host the Rothko Chapel’s observance of World Environment Day. /
Courtesy Memorial Park Conservancy

by Eduardo de la Garza

Mindfulness is the act of meditating to bring your mind to the present and to focus your energy on your immediate surroundings. Calling back to the May 17 story about mental health, it can help with clearing one’s mind.

At 8 a.m. June 2, the Rothko Chapel will observe World Environment Day with a facilitated walking meditation led by Aproteem Choudhury at the Clay Family Eastern Glades at Memorial Park. The all-ages event — even dogs are welcome, provided they remain on leashes — promises to encourage awareness of nature and protecting the environment. Choudhury is the manager of research and partnership development for the Center for Mind-Body Medicine and mind-body interventionist at Texas Children’s Hospital.

“Attendees can expect an hour-long facilitated meditation that includes standing, walking, and sitting in areas of Eastern Glades Park,” said Will Davison, director of communications & community relations for Rothko Chapel. “Dress for the weather and bring water or your favorite morning beverage. It will be a great time to reset and appreciate the beautiful environment around us.”

The 50th World Environment Day (WED) falls on June 5. In 1972, the first ever United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm was the first worldwide conference to address the environment. In December 1972, the U.N. General Assembly designated June 5 as World Environment Day and created the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). On June 5, 1973, the U.N. observed the first WED with the theme “Only One Earth.”

According to the UNEP’s WorldEnvironmentDay.Global, the day “is a global platform for inspiring positive change. People from more than 150 countries participate in this United Nations international day, which celebrates environmental action and the power of governments, businesses and individuals to create a more sustainable world.”

The theme for this year’s WED is “Beat Plastic Pollution.” The theme is fitting considering World Ocean Day is approaching June 8. U.N. reports say that 11 million tons of plastic end up in oceans, with 19 to 23 tons of plastic waste filling the world’s lakes and rivers. Because of the sun and waves, ocean plastic can be broken down further into microplastics which can make their way back into humans through the food chain.

Even worse than historic oil spills, plastic pollution is the worst, accounting for 85 percent of marine pollution. Plastics emit greenhouse gas emissions throughout their lives, they don’t degrade quickly, and even when they do, their degradation further harms the environment and humans, who may breathe in microplastics or ingest them through food.

Fifty years later, there’s still only one Earth. In fact, this year’s theme is a repeat from 2018’s “Beating Plastic Pollution.” But more than anything, WED, Earth Day, World Ocean Day, show that beyond depending on leaders to make policies that preserve and protect this Rock, it has to begin with individuals. ZZ Top, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, and Matthew McConaughey have all told us … don’t mess with Texas.

“World Environment Day is vital to observe because it raises awareness, promotes global collaboration, encourages policy advocacy, inspires individual action, fosters innovation, creates global momentum, and supports environmental education,” Davison said. “It serves as a reminder that protecting and preserving our environment is not just a one-day event but a continuous effort that requires everyone’s participation.”

Begin observing WED with a mindful meditative walk with Rothko Chapel at the Eastern Glades on June 2. Onsite parking is available for three hours for $1 via the City’s meters. Rothko suggests donating what you can, from $5 to $20, and to register here.

And on June 5, let’s be mindful and realize that the work doesn’t stop. Let’s keep fighting to beat plastic pollution.