DOI: 10.3390/su16031119 ISSN: 2071-1050

A Multidimensional Approach to Strengthening Connectedness with Nature in Everyday Life: Evaluating the Earthfulness Challenge

Bernadette F. van Heel, Riyan J. G. van den Born, Noelle Aarts
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction

Connectedness with nature benefits not only human health and well-being, but also our engagement with and taking action for nature. Despite the importance of nature in everyday life, we are increasingly disconnected from nature. Consequently, the calls to reconnect with nature are increasingly loud, but how can we reconnect with nature in the midst of a busy (urban) life? In order to answer this question, we sought to contribute to understanding how people express their connectedness with nature in different contexts and how this can be strengthened through multiple pathways. To do so we used a mixed-methods approach to evaluate, with the use of leverage points, the experiences of people who participated in the Earthfulness program, a 21-day challenge with exercises to strengthen their connectedness with nature in everyday life. Earthfulness participants already felt a relatively strong connectedness with nature at the start of the challenge, and they sought ways to solidify, sustain, express, and enrich that connectedness. By participating in the challenge, people experienced a stronger connectedness with nature, expressed more dimensions of connectedness with nature, and indicated an increased willingness to act for nature. Participants identified gratitude, a reciprocal relationship with nature, and humility as drivers of their willingness to act for nature. We conclude that there are various pathways to strengthen connectedness and that leverage points represent a useful lens through which to study, understand, and implement this diversity.

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