This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man! Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
This is a quote Gisele Bündchen recited as food for thought at the end of a panel on soil health and regenerative agriculture, hands moving in dramatic gestures, breeze blowing through her hair.
The supermodel turned environmental activist and U.N. Environment Programme Global Goodwill Ambassador seems to have it all – physical wellbeing of the highest degree, financial success and stardom, and certainly a life well lived. Yet for her, none of this matters – nor would it even be possible – if the very ground on which we walk is not in good health.
“If we really want to talk about what’s driving the problem, it’s greed,” she says. “We have the solutions… Regenerating our soil means regenerating our health means regenerating all living beings. Healing our soil is our path to healing ourselves and healing the Earth.”
As a young girl, Bündchen was raised going to her grandmother’s house in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, where she helped in the garden and took care of the animals. Twenty-four years and a global modeling career later, she took her first trip to the Amazon, which reawakened her childhood love for nature and ignited an urgent desire to help the protection of the rainforest and its peoples.
Since then, she’s dedicated her image, money and unbridled passion to a number of charities and environmental efforts, crafting a new reputation for herself as a philanthropist, conservationist and avid sustainability enthusiast along the way. In her home state, she founded the Água Limpa project to clean up and preserve fresh water sources and help the native riparian forest recover from degradation. (“Now you can grab the soil, and it is moist and full of worms,” she says.) She celebrated her fortieth birthday by leading the planting of 40,000 trees. She executive-produced the Netflix Documentary Kiss the Ground, which received rave critical reviews for its teachings on regenerative agriculture.
Now with three children of her own, Bündchen is coming full circle, teaching them how to grow food and take care of animals in the gardens around their own homes.
“I believe the stories about our relationship with the earth are powerful and important,” she says. “I’m also a mother, and the future of our children relies on the preservation of our ecosystems.”