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Opinion – our obsession with wellness is hurting both us and the planet

Although wellness touts itself as being the key to a more fulfilling life, it may in fact be destroying both our bodies and the planet.

Throughout the last decade, ‘wellness’ has become such a ubiquitous part of mainstream culture that in 2022, it’s relatively difficult to imagine a world without it.

The term, which was coined in the 50s when people began realising that there’s a great deal more to health than merely treating illnesses reactively, refers to making conscious decisions that’ll supposedly lead to a more fulfilling life.

Yet regardless of how a variety of the trends experts tout as being the key to achieving ultimate happiness are certainly worthwhile – such as mindfulness and meditation – many of them are often just fads with no real proof that they have the potential to make a difference to our overall wellbeing.

One simply needs to think back to when Goop-founder Gwyneth Paltrow got sued for selling expensive crystal eggs because she claimed that shoving them up our hoo-has had the ‘power to cleanse and clear’ for an example of this.

Or when juicing was the talk of the town in 2018 for its alleged ability to boost our immune systems despite the absence of scientific evidence suggesting it’s any healthier than eating fresh produce whole.

And don’t even get me started on the explosion of teatoxes which promised to help us lose weight and feel less bloated but instead forced us to rush to the toilet multiple times a day.

At least Instagram rolled out policies restricting celebrities from posting about this one, I guess.

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Now this isn’t to say that I wholeheartedly oppose wellness, quite the opposite in fact given how partial I am to a daily yoga practice, journaling, and the occasional womb-healing crystal ceremony, but I am convinced there needs to be more clarity when it comes to what works and what doesn’t.

Particularly from the brands and influencers indoctrinating impressionable audiences online.

Not only this, but improved transparency around the destructive impact of our wellness-obsessed society on both our bodies and the planet is essential going forward.

Namely because despite what social media would have you believe, our dietary choices aren’t the leading cause of the current climate crisis.

Rather the wellness organisations peddling myths that their products are Earth-friendly and seeking to profit off the eco-anxiety that’s widely felt by younger generations dedicated to being conscious.

When navigating our feeds, it’s become near-impossible to avoid message after message factitiously reassuring us that in supporting various healthy eating campaigns we’re changing the course of IPCC’s code red for humanity.

Unfortunately, you don’t need me to tell you that this isn’t the case.

Wellness Now a $4.2 Trillion Global Industry - Global Wellness Institute

Fixation on the carbon footprint of processed foods and the subsequent demonisation of those who consume them is purely a weaponised marketing ploy.

One that disregards the existence of deep-rooted systemic issues and sees the struggles of living in poverty glossed over in favour of soundbites droning on about individual liability and making better choices.

Essentially, the wellness industry – following in the footsteps of almost every other sector we buy from – has turned its attention to the commercialisation of climate action, doubling down on its efforts to deflect the onus from itself and onto consumers.

After all, if we assume the emergency is our fault and that we can solve it by purchasing from the very same people who are responsible for 71% of global emissions, we won’t criticise them and they won’t lose income. It’s a win-win situation for them, really.

On this note, we must take a long-overdue stand against the toxic wellness companies that continue to push disordered and restrictive eating through excessive orthorexic narratives and by asking activists to advertise their slimming products because of their ‘environmental benefits.’

Why? Because being shamed into adopting an unsustainable diet harms both us and our collective power to save the planet. Resisting this notion, however, sends a message to the corporations designed to make money from our insecurity and distress that we no longer rely on them.

No, you can’t singlehandedly combat climate change by teatoxing, juicing, or shopping from Goop, but you can be kind to the Earth by fighting for better accountability from the wellness companies who are, in part, to blame.