Do you live in or near a Blue Zone? You may and not even know it! But what exactly is a Blue Zone, and what does it mean that Gaia Herbs was named a Blue Zones Certified Worksite? It’s a pretty significant certification and one we’re very proud of. Part of Gaia’s mission is to care for people, plants, and planet, and working with the Blue Zones Project is another way we keep our employees and communities living healthier, happier lives.
What are the Blue Zones?
Blue Zones are places around the world where people are living longer lives. The five original Blue Zones are Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California. These regions were studied and specific commonalities that may help you live a longer life were found, including connecting with loved ones, eating more vegetables, regular movement, and having a connection to some sort of spiritual practice.
The Blue Zones Project has taken these tenets of wellness and uses them to transform communities and workplaces. Brevard, North Carolina, where the Gaia Farm is located, is currently working on becoming a Blue Zone Community.
Why Would Someone Want to Live or Work in a Blue Zone?
We all want to live a longer, happier life, don’t we? The benefits of a Blue Zone lifestyle are many, and they’re not just limited to how you feel personally; those benefits extend to your town or city and even to the world!
When you work at a Blue Zone Worksite or live in a Blue Zone Community, you not only connect with your fellow employees and community members, but you align with your own purpose too. You’re actively contributing to your community, working together to make your job or neighborhood a healthier, more supportive place.
How Did Gaia Herbs Become a Blue Zones Project Worksite?
There is a process to becoming a certified Blue Zones Project Worksite, but the steps were natural to Gaia. We have already implemented many beneficial practices to ensure employee well-being at work, including yoga for the farm team, as part of our commitment to social responsibility.
To earn certification for a worksite, everything must come from the top down; leadership must be aligned to making changes for everyone. A wellness committee made of employees across the company is created and they meet on a regular basis, then continue to maintain the well-being efforts.
Employee benefits are also considered, everything from a breastfeeding policy for nursing parents, a healthy PTO balance and space to pursue wellness at work, like a mid-day walk. Even desk chairs are considered!
Gaia also spotlighted our volunteer program as part of the certification process; each employee is given paid time off to volunteer in the community, helping Gaia and its employees better become a partner to the community of Brevard.
What are the Benefits of Becoming a Blue Zones Project Worksite?
Blue Zones Worksites create a culture and environment that makes making healthier choices easier for employees. When you put an emphasis on employees’ well-being, whether that’s with healthy food options in the vending machines, adequate sick and PTO time, or encouraging employees to move their bodies throughout the day, you may see improved productivity, increased retention, higher morale, and more engagement at work.