Our environment matters.

Recently I’ve been supporting the local residential association by providing a document on why our environment is important for quality of life. You would of thought this goes without saying, well apparently not, due to cuts in local government spending our local estate is now suffering with services being cut to it. It’s great we have the local MLA’s which are the equivalent of MP’s in Northern Ireland involved in this as well, so we are hopeful that things will change and we will have a chance to influence those in government about local issues that the residents are concerned about..

I live right on the edge of agricultural farm land, on an estate right on the edge of the town. I get the best of both worlds really, but our council has decided to remove the verge side grass cutting and road services for icy conditions that it provides. The maintenance company that also takes care of the estate has also done the same, so with non homeowner fences starting to go into disrepair and verges becoming over grown the residents took it into their own hands and started to do it themselves, whilst fighting to get this support put back in place.

Why am I so bothered, and why am I helping them with what seems to be small things when there are bigger things to focus on surely?

Well research shows that environmental factors play a large role in how that environment is then treated, and the quality of life that residents experience, and quality of life and health are my main concern, and are not being considered in these generalised council cuts.

The ‘broken window’ theory by James Wilson clearly shows how the visible deterioration of an environment then leads to a wider deterioration of behaviour and then becomes more attractive to those involved with crime. When environments are not cared for it leads to increased fly tipping, and littering, which then degrades the environment further. Our environment should be one that is safe for all to live in, and shouldn’t carry a level of fear when living in it, we should not be worried that our children can not get safely to a play area, or that verges are unsafe for them to walk in due to potential litter and dog waste that is hidden within them if not cut regularly.

Local residents in any community should feel proud of the area they live in, and that this pride is supported via environmental policies from local government departments, the residents should be able to build on a supportive government framework by caring for their own properties to create a high quality living environment, safe and desirable for those who do and wish to live there.

When the environment is one that is uncared for, it lacks the natural guardianship that we would then expect from those interested residents, this then leads clearly to increased potential for small scale crime. Fear leads to a reduction in health, those people who live in area’s which are not kept in a fashion that fosters high levels of guardianship are shown to have reduced life spans, and live in poorer conditions, no one wants that.

So we should all be working to live in the best environments we can make for ourselves because it matters. But it’s not just about where we live that matters, architects are well aware of what is called sick building syndrome, a building where lots of people just get ill. The layouts of buildings are fundamental, and can play a big role in how people perform in them, it’s been found in research that improved indoor environmental quality contributed to reductions in absenteeism and work hours because of the sick absence caused by asthma, respiratory allergies, depression, and stress.

So make your environment one that you enjoy being in, allows you to be healthy, and productive.

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