Written by Laura María Rodriguez Uribe, Earth Charter Young Leader
For some people it would not be so obvious to think that there is a direct link between the action of donating blood and caring for the planet; however, my intention with this article is to make visible the connection points between these two noble causes and their relevance to respecting and maintaining any form of life on this planet.
I also want to share an initiative that I have created together with my sister with the purpose of promoting life in our country, Colombia, through education about blood donation; but I’ll talk about this project later.
From my understanding and experience I have created the following definition that I could apply to these two actions. Here it goes: it is the constant commitment to recognize ourselves in the other and our environment, understanding the genuine connection that exists between human beings and the planet we inhabit. From my own interpretation I have identified five aspects to understand the importance of donating blood and caring for the planet. Surely, more can be added, but for now, these are the ones that I consider key in this first approach.
• We are all connected: Thinking that we are autonomous and independent beings separates us from reality where all the actions and decisions we make have a direct consequence in our context. It might be easier to list the differences that divide us as human beings, but it is the similarities that allow us to live together and feel empathy for others. In our blood, we can find a common and fundamental element for the life of any person, no matter their place of origin, their sexual orientation or religion, we are the same species that shares the same internal structure. On the other hand, caring for the planet is not only a matter of people wanting to save it, but of human beings who understand that their social and economic systems and even their personal well-being depend on, and this would not be possible without a healthy and balanced planet.
• Perfect systems: It is undeniable to recognize that the human body and the biosphere (environment) are complex, interconnected and fascinating systems, which have been the subject of countless studies and articles that seek to understand and account for all the dynamics that compose them. Land is abundant but finite and it has allowed the development and growth of the human community for years. So far, no better and more optimal place to live has been found. We don’t have a planet B! As well as the planet, the human body is made up of various components and it would be an understatement if I tried to refer to all of them. However, there is a vital one that allows a correct distribution of nutrients and oxygen throughout the body and that can be regenerated in just a few days, the blood! This cannot yet be produced “industrially”, and its availability depends on the solidarity of ourselves as the main and only source. On average one blood donation can help save three lives (Red Cross Colombia).
• Collective collaboration: It is urgent to continue preserving life on the planet and recognizing that it is necessary to make a transition to a sustainable lifestyle over time and where the opportunities to enjoy the resources that current generations have are not limited to future. Just as any human being has the right to use the resources necessary for their survival on this planet, it is an ethical duty to guarantee their stability and balance. Blood donation works in a similar way, the right to be transfused is indisputable and it is a priority when it comes to maintaining the life of a person who for various circumstances requires a blood component; it is our duty to commit ourselves to safely and constantly supply the reserves of this resource that is required every day.
• Leave a mark: What kind of mark would you like to leave? Our passage on this planet generates various impacts, but it is our choice to decide which ones we can control and what relationship we want to build with our environment and social circles. We are part of the same system of which we do not own, because understanding that we belong to the Earth leads us to question ourselves and relearn new habits and renounce superficial comforts that are affecting our future. Part of leaving a mark is leading by example, not only generating conversation spaces around the importance of caring for the planet, but also promoting voluntary actions of common benefit such as blood donation.
• Protection and care: The actions of donating blood and caring for the planet are directly linked to self-love. When you embrace these two causes, you are protecting your health and well-being. Developing criteria for local consumption and making responsible decisions regarding the products of daily use, the food we eat, or the correct disposal of our waste strengthen our relationship with the earth. Likewise, and according to the Colombian Red Cross, donating blood brings several advantages for the human being, it reduces the risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke and improves the blood circulation process, allowing the regeneration and oxygenation of the body tissues. In addition, it can be a way to check that our health status does not present irregularities, since if the blood is in optimal conditions, it will be used for the transfusion process.
Donating blood and caring for the planet share the same feeling of love for life … human life and any living being. High doses of solidarity, compassion and gratitude are required.
Understanding that empathy can be a source of creativity and that it can be at the service of others, we decided together with my sister, and as a result of a family situation, to create a community in order to make visible the importance of blood donation and demystify prejudices and inherited myths that exist around this topic. Our great learnings during this process have been to rectify how important the community is to make a movement like this viral and the need to create, build as a team and in synergy with different actors involved. “Colombia Dona Sangre” began in December 2020 and is an initiative that we project will grow as patients need it.
You can find us on social media at @col_donasangre. I invite you to join this initiative and donate blood in the city where you are reading this writing.
* This text has been written based on the Colombian context, where blood donation is anonymous and voluntary and where any citizen has the right to be transfused.
Laura is passionate about sustainability, social impact, education and data analysis. She is a proactive and enthusiastic woman. She holds a university degree in Hotel and Tourism Management studies in Bogota and has led projects such as the first Tourism Young Leaders Congress which was an event sponsored by Fontur (Colombian National Tourism Fund). Besides this, she has worked as a social volunteer in Brazil and Colombia, promoting environmental education. Nowadays, she is an Earth Charter Young Leader where she facilitates educational sessions on sustainable development, leadership, and ethics. She is firmly committed to changing her habits to reduce her environmental footprint and to be a change-maker in her country.
Click here to learn more about the Earth Charter Young Leaders programme.