“Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Our health depends on a healthy planet. Our relationship with ourselves (and each other) is about health in all its dimensions – mental, emotional spiritual and physical. Individual health and wellbeing collectively, determines the health and vitality of civilization and our planet, as we are interconnected with each other and the world we inhabit. Chief Seattle’s words – “man does not weave this web of life – he is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself”
It may seem that we face a bewildering series of challenges as we traverse the road towards the future of our environment, however there is no doubt in my mind that one of the most simple ways that we can address the challenge of toxic garbage in our environment is through personal responsibility towards reducing consumerism. Simple! There may be new discoveries and unforeseeable future developments which may help our transition towards a more responsible, more resource-efficient society but we need to act now – for the sake of our health, our children’s health and the future of the planet. This weeks Ridiculously Simple Steps To Transform Your Health (and Life) is aimed at Reducing, Reusing and Recycling since it is something we can all do to make our world a cleaner, safer place. One of the advantages of this approach is that it also saves you money! The materialistic world in which we live is focused on wanting and having and getting and accumulating which of course adds to the all ready burgeoning pile of toxic environmental garbage. When our children were growing up and they looked on other children and what they had and thought they should have too, we would ask them the following questions -
Do you have enough food to eat?
Do you have enough clean water to drink?
Do you sleep warm at night?
Do you have family who love you?
Do you feel safe?
And of course they always answered yes, which we would respond to with, so then have enough! It is heartbreaking to note that most of the people in the world cannot answer yes to those five questions. Our children are now in their twenties and thirties and I am delighted to know that their focus in this world is not on “what next can I acquire”. We desperately need to educate our children not only in the academic areas of life but also in social responsibility and emotional intelligence, since children are our hope for the future. As with any undisciplined desire there is a constant yearning to have our needs satisfied. If we constantly gave in to our desires to eat (consume) we would soon discover we could no longer fit into our clothes. Consumerism is no different. Affluence has caused a feeding frenzy on consumerism which has caused indisputable problems for our planet and it is time to address the issue.
Reducing, Reusing and Recycling (especially plastics) cannot fail to make a difference to the amount of garbage which ends up in landfills – part of the millions of tons of plastics we dump each year. Plastics may be washed out from land during storms, lost overboard from cargo ships and sometimes even dumped illegally and are left drifting in the oceans causing havoc to bird and sea life and creating a toxic soup which is now entering our food chain. Recently I was made aware of a vast whirlpool of plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean where four major ocean currents meet and form a giant whirlpool. Most of the garbage that ends up in the Pacific Ocean eventually gets caught up in this whirlpool which has formed into a mass approximately twice the size of Texas!!!! Further investigation has revealed this may not be the only toxic whirlpool in our oceans and could be just the tip of the iceberg. Read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-slusark/giant-trash-dump-in-pacif_b_179728.html.
Marine Biologist, David Barnes says that “Plastic is not just an aesthetic problem, it can actually change entire ecosystems.” Humans are part of that very eco-system. Following the eco psychological insight that a disturbed ecosystem can make people mentally ill, it is also true that a disturbed ecosystem can make people physically ill as well. There is also growing evidence linking cancer to environmental contamination and this has become not only important to our personal health, but it has also become an urgent human rights issue. What a price to pay for our preoccupation with consumerism!
As a child I was always amused by my father’s approach to conservative consumerism. At the beginning of each week my mother would wrap sandwiches for my father’s lunch in greased paper lunch wrap, and every day my father would give thanks for his lunch and afterwards, carefully, lovingly and ceremoniously fold this same lunch wrap to be used for the following day. The lunch wrap folding process would last an entire week and he was always miffed when my mother would introduce a new piece of lunch wrap at the beginning of the following week. He always said it had more life in it yet!!!!!!!!! Recently I came across some gingham fabric envelope style sandwich wraps that could last an entire lifetime – I wonder if my father would have approved?
While perhaps we don’t need to follow my father’s example in reducing our carbon footprint to that degree (but why not?) we can follow his example in making conscious decisions that will affect our health, our life and our planet. By choosing to introduce some of the following Ridiculously Simple Steps to Transform Your Health (and Life) and reduce our reliance on plastics we will also contribute to our health personally, the health of future generations and the health (and beauty) of the world in which we live:
- Think before you buy – consider if it is essential, important but non-essential or just a want
- Invest in high quality, long lasting products
- Recycle plastics wherever possible
- Carry reusable canvas or fabric bags to the store instead of using yet more plastic bags
- Buy from bulk bins where possible placing straight into your carry home bags.
- Use reusable plastic containers rather than purchasing made to order ones
- Set up your own compost bin – you will need less kitchen garbage bags
- Carry your own mug for your morning coffee
- Choose natural fabrics for furnishings
- Instead of purchasing, consider joining a lending co-op or library or borrow from friends for family
- Avoid buying bottled water – depending on how long it has been on the shelf and at what temperature it has been stored will also determine how much chemical has leached into the water. Bottles also have to be disposed of!
- Recycle your cell phone
- Buy second hand if possible
- Sell anything you no longer need – reduce demand for new products
- Use refills if possible – many independent shops now provide this facility
- Resist takeaway food – there is always so much packaging associated with prepared food.
From the right to know and the duty to inquire flows the obligation to act.” ~ Sandra Steingraber
You are invited to leave your comments and suggestions on this blog post. Thankyou.