“Do Not Harm.” Sure, we think this is a no brainer. We shouldn’t steal, lie, be violent, etc. But it extends way beyond this–to our planet, to our food, to ourselves.
We live in a world where everything and everyone is interconnected. The food we eat, the water we use, the plastic we throw away, the vehicles we drive, and even the clothes we wear, all have an impact on the planet, on our fellow Earth-inhabitants, on everything and everyone. Because of this, we must try our best to mindfully navigate life with loving attention to our environment.
Be good to OUR planet.
Plastic bottles take on average 450 years to degrade in the landfills (some even 1000 years!). 5.25 TRILLION pieces of plastic debris are in our oceans right now. 500 billion single-use bags are used worldwide every year. The average American tosses 82 pounds of clothing/textile a year. 11 MILLION tons in America end up in the trash EACH year. These textiles take up to 200 years to degrade.
(Have you seen WALL-E!?)
On top of all that, a combination of excessive deforestation and climate change can lead to severe drought and desertification of once fertile, moist ground! This has affected many countries– ruining crops and making water a scarce and valuable resource (even to the extent of being a cause for war).
I’m not vegetarian BUT…
- A UC Davis study found that to produce 1 pound of beef, it takes 441 gallons of water. This is the conservative estimate. Another study estimates as much as 2,500 gallons of water is needed. In addition, cows are fattened up with grain and corn (not their natural diet) & dosed with antibiotics… oh and again… the water!
- Poor caged chickens. Clipped beaks, cage only required to be the size of an A4 paper… Stressed & overweight chickens often have brittle/broken bones. Aggressive pecking since close quarters with too many chickens (can result in injury + death)… Too many chickens = disease and bacterial infections!
- For more information on the effects of meat-eating, check out this article from Science Magazine which describes the created pressure against bio-diversity (towards species extinction) of meat-eating.
- HEALTH…We know eating [too much] meat can cause high cholesterol levels and increase your risk for heart disease and cancer.
What can we do?
Here are some thing that I wanted to share. Some of these things are part of my daily practice… and some things I rarely do but am aware I should do!
I choose to vote with my money by purchasing some of these Eco-Friendly(er) products for my apartment.
I choose to use recycled paper products like Seventh Generation’s toilet paper & paper towels (but still use cloth towels for most things!). For tissues, I use a “tree-free” product made out of bamboo grass and other renewable resources.
This year in California we got rid of single-use plastic bags at grocery stores! Such good news. Now, we have to pay 10 cents to purchase a reusable plastic bag or BRING our OWN reusable bag! I have several reusable bags. They are usually around a dollar to purchase and last forever. Canvas ones can be thrown in the washer, while plastic ones can be wiped down.
For our kitchen trash bags I use Seventh Generation’s recycled bags. For pet waste, there are a couple options of compostable and biodegradable plastics (EPI–chemical additives to break down the plastics faster… probably not the best!) & then bags made out of corn starch or potato starch as well. Amazon has quite a few options!
Food is a hard one! I LOVE going out to eat with friends & family. It’s a great way to socialize & bond (without the mess and work!). Although there are a growing number of local/sustainable/organic restaurants, the amount is limited even in larger cities. Also, I love hole-in-the-wall places where the meat and produce are unlikely to be of the most environmentally friendly. I aim for balance. Less meat, and responsibly raised when possible. I know that a lot of my fellow yogis are vegetarians, and maybe one day I will be too. But, as of right now, I’m voting with my money for a feasible alternative for most Americans. If we support sustainably-raised and healthy animals, we create a larger demand and a bigger market. Overall, I want to believe that we can make a difference in the meat market.
When I grocery shop, I buy all organic if possible! I have a favorite co-op store that I shop at, and when I cannot make it over there, I just shop at my local chain grocery store with a selective mind. I go for labels that say “organic,” “cage free,” “local,” and “grass fed.” In San Diego, we are lucky that our big supermarkets carry such things. I know in my hometown Loma Linda, you have to go to a specialty store to have these sorts of options!
Another reason I like to eat out so much is that I get tired of making the same dishes at home. I know there are cookbooks out there for this problem, but I admit to being quite lazy! So, a couple times a month, I order Sun Basket or Green Chef. Both of these contain sustainably sourced, organic ingredients. You can choose vegan/vegetarian meals. On top of that, the packaging is recyclable. Sun Basket allows you to ship it back to them for free when you’re done cooking your meals (so they can do the proper recycling for you!). Sun Basket is my favorite because the recipes are always amazing and the ingredients fresh (and interesting…like szechuan peppers or banana leaves..mmm). There’s also Terra’s Kitchen, which I’ve tried and liked. They send you the food in a make-shift refrigerator with reusable packaging. You just leave it on your doorstep for pickup when you’re done.
Around the house, I like to use natural products too! Biodegradable, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly! For dish soap, I use Seventh Generation. They have great hand soap, laundry detergent, and cleaning supplies too! I choose to save some money with some alternatives, however.
Instead of laundry detergent, I usually use soap nuts! Soap nuts, or soap berries, are all natural (with the cleaning power of saponin) and are a gentle alternative to normal detergent. You just add a handful to a muslin bag and toss it into the wash!
For hand soap, I make my own with Castile Soap (Dr. Bronner’s), water, and essential oils. It’s super easy to make and a cheaper alternative. You can also make your dish soap out of this! (For bar soap and other personal care items, see my shop!)
And for cleaning surfaces, I use vinegar, water, and essential oils mixed together in a spray bottle. So simple and works well.
I LOVE BATHS (so bad…). I take them pretty often with my bath salts. Whether you are a bath or a shower lover, here are some guidelines to pay attention to:
- Don’t fill the bath up all the way!
- Take a short shower instead 😉
- For showers: If it’s not freezing out, turn off water while you shave, wash your hair, sud up, etc…
- Try washing your hair every other day… or less!
Recycle: Know your local regulations
- Not all cities accept the same things
- Make sure your recyclables are free from oil and food
- Know where to recycle
- Return your grocery bags to the store!
Compost (I don’t do this yet!)
- Check with local facilities that take compost or use in your garden!
Personal Care + Beauty Products:
- Select those with recycled (or at least recyclable) or reusable packaging, safely sourced & healthy ingredients, & support companies that you believe in
- Things to check out for feminine care: reusable cotton & charcoal menstrual pads, THINX underwear, & Diva Cups/Moon Cups (Not as weird as you think!)
- Clothing: Upcycle (ThreadUP), Threads4Thought, Minimalism, Avoid Trends (hard one!),
This one is an important one and definitely something I should work on! I recently got a trolley pass and try my best to carpool to places. When I was a college student at UCLA I took the bus everywhere (left my car back at home) and it wasn’t that bad! Depending on the city you live in, taking public transportation everywhere can be completely feasible or frustratingly difficult. So do some research and create your driving habits from there. Oh, and WALKING is a great alternative too!
Let’s be good to our planet. Vote with your money and educate others. Have those uncomfortable conversations with your friends and family. Let’s create a better world for future generations (of humans, animals, trees, and so on) by just making some of these small adjustments in your daily life!