This image shows human hands grasping the earth, demonstrating how our actions are dictated by solely human’s perspective of the environment, rather than accounting for other species.

Umwelt comes from German theorist, Jakob con Uexkull, who created this word to verbalize the way that organisms view the environment, and how shared environments are perceived differently, especially between species (Van Dooren, 67-68). This is important to recognize because the way in which we perceive the environment around us will have an enormous impact on the way we interact with it. The idea of Umwelt, if used to conceptualize what the world is like from another species’ perspective, can help us to empathize with other species and move toward more sustainable practices that are more accommodating and inclusive of the other organisms we share this planet with.