Earth Day and Contemplations on Ahimsa
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
5 Things you can do for our planet every day.
First do no harm.
Our beloved yoga practice is an eight-fold path. Transcribed by Patanjali prior to 400 CE, the Yoga Sutras provide us with a systematized methodology for attaining liberation, and the very first step is ahimsa: the conscious practice of non-violence toward all beings.
When we study the yamas and niyamas (restraints and observances as prescribed by the Yoga Sutras as the foundations of an ethical path), we challenge ourselves to consider how to apply our practices in thought, word, and deed. We visit and revisit yogic precepts and contemplate how they apply to each aspect of our lives. Today, as we honor the magic that is our planet Earth, I have been reflecting on my relationship with Earth; those ways in which I've already adapted my lifestyle to better support sustainability, and those things I know I can do better. Here are a few ways Carl and I are trying to support the health of our planet:
1. Stop Recycling Plastic. Ok, that sounds weird, I know. It's not that we shouldn't recycle plastic, it's that we shouldn't use plastic and think there's not a plastic problem since we recycle it. Did you know that according to the EPA, in the US only 9.1% of plastic production is recycled? Even when we toss a bottle in the recycling bin, it's most likely going to make its way into a landfill thanks to the fact that it is often more cost effective for a company to create new plastic packaging than it is to process recycled product. To address the crisis of plastic pollution, we have to collectively kick the bottled beverage habit to the curb. This is why we offer filtered water at Glow in lieu of bottled water, and we hope you join us in pledging to carry reusable bottles wherever you go. Bonus? Most coffee shops will give you a break when you bring your own reusable mug; our favorite local spot, Good Earth Coffee in Far Hills does! Want a few other easy ways to reduce your plastic consumption? Ditch the shower gel in favor of a bar of soap, buy your nut butters, honey, and jams in glass jars, carry your reusable shopping bags in your car, and replace your saran wrap habit with Bees Wrap; it's an amazing reusable food wrap made out of cotton coated in bees wax. We love it!
2. Cut Down the Meat (or Kick it All Together). I do not eat meat, but Carl and my son do. I don't know that there's any one diet that is right for everyone, but I do know that industrial agriculture, especially factory farmed meat, has had a tremendously devastating impact on our environment. According to the UN, 37% of methane emissions each year are from cattle, and 26% of the earth's land is being used for grazing. The combination of greenhouse emissions with deforestation for factory farming is contributing to climate change as much as our fossil fuel dependency has. Why not make it a practice to dedicate one or two days per week to eliminate meat from your diet? Or when possible, support a local farm like Riverbend Farm in Peapack to buy meat that was humanely raised with less negative environmental impact.
3. Clean Up your Cleaning Up. Ironically, if you walk down the cleaning products aisle in a conventional grocery store, you'll find that the vast majority of detergents and all-purpose cleaners are laden with harmful chemicals, including known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Our cultural obsession with killing germs has led us to pour poisons into our water supply while contributing to our own declining health. Did you know that studies have found that households that use bleach as a regular cleanser show an increase in childhood asthma as well as yearly incidences of flu? Detox your pantry and replace harmful products with some basics: vinegar, basking soda, and lemon essential oil. A good microfiber towel and a mild detergent like seventh generation dish soap can take care of just about anything.
4. Buy in Bulk. Cut down on needless packaging materials, save money, and know the unbelievable gratification that is having all your basics (oats, beans, flours, etc.) neatly stowed in mason jars by shopping the bulk foods aisle. My favorite grocery store is Dean's Natural Market (locations in Basking Ridge and Chester) and my biggest life-changing bulk item is tri-color popcorn. It's organic, delicious, and looks adorable in the mason jar ;)
5. Lights Out Early! I am a night owl and my biggest environmental offense may be the amount of time I'm up late with too many lights on and too many screens glowing. I confess, I've been known to pass out with the TV blaring for weeks at a time. Since January I've been making a dedicated effort to get to bed earlier, and I've put myself on social media curfew - no more screen time after 9pm! This saves me untold hours a weeks of scrolling and staring into an electronic abyss, and the extra bonus is reducing my energy bills. I've always been pretty resistant to bedtime (is it my FOMO?) but a few weeks of chamomile tea, relaxing music on Pandora (set on a 20 minute timer), and a lavender neck wrap (I scored mine at Dean's) and I'm getting into the swing of it! Getting up to teach 6:00 am classes doesn't hurt, either. . . join me!
I heard on NPR this weekend that experts expect that in 30 years there will be 150 million climate refugees. 150 million. We have to step up our game. Each of these little habits begins as maybe a minor inconvenience and honestly leads to more sense of calm and peace. Give them a try, and share with us what you're doing - everything is more fun with friends!
Happy Earth Day from Glow - may you always know the earth is sacred, may you always be abundant, may you always be protected, may you be happy and free, and may you be at peace.