Is establishing an international day dedicated to drawing attention to the preciousness of earth enough? What can we do to make Earth Day an event and a reminder to bring attention to the health of the earth?
I know that collectively we can all make a difference in the health of the earth, in the preservation of vital forests, water resources and other precious limited resources. By making a concerted effort, we can all be stewards of the earth.
Hosting the Earth Day Yoga retreat at Little Renaissance is one way in which Rick and I can contribute to our mother ship, Earth. On our weekend retreat, we asked: how can we collectively make a difference? How can we collectively influence, motivate, enlighten, and share what we know? Below are some of the answers that came forth from our discussions.
- We can cut back on car usage. We can drive less, carpool when possible, use public transportation, walk more and/or ride a bike. If you walk more or ride your bike, not only will the earth be happier, but your physical body will be leaner and healthier.
- We can promote buying organic produce (and organic meat products, if you consume meat). As consumers, we wield some purchase power. And we can waste less, especially when it comes to eating out. American portions are huge. Take home what you can’t eat and enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day.
- Think big! One retreat participant works for Eileen Fischer, an Eco-conscious clothing store. I learned last weekend that the clothing industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. The first most polluting industry is the oil industry. Eileen Fischer is aiming to use only 100% organic cotton, from seed to the cotton’s finished product, by 2020. The company has a store called Green Eileen, a store where clothing is re-purposed and resold. Urge other clothing stores, companies, and industries to become Eco-consciously committed. Shop at such businesses and be proud of your contribution to the health of the earth and all of humanity.
- Practice voluntary Simplicity. I bet more than a few of my readers grew up, like me, with parents or grandparents who lived through the depression era. They saved everything from used sheets of aluminum foil paper to rubber bands and twist ’ems. They repaired broken items rather than throwing out and purchasing something new. They patched, darned, made use of hand-me-downs, glued, and soldered things back to working order. They even turned off the water while brushing their teeth. Let’s learn from them. Reduce, reuse, recycle, renew. Spread the word.
- Eat vegetarian (and if you are not willing to go there, how about one or two meatless meatless meals per week?) The way you eat has a huge impact on caring for the earth. Educate yourself on usage and ill effects of pesticides on your health and on the environment. Educate yourself on the ill effects of eating meat from animals who have lived in horrid conditions and treated with growth hormones, steroids, and injected with medicines to keep them alive and ready for the slaughterhouse. If you eat meat, make sure your meat comes from animals that have been raised organically and under humane conditions. Seriously think about what you put into your body.
- Pay attention to birds! Draw attention to birds around you through your writing, drawing, painting, or other artistic expressive crafts. Celebrate these creatures that fly and sing! We destroy their habitats and kill them off (think of the now extinct passenger pigeon, which was actually quite a beautiful bird!). Once these beautiful creatures are gone, there is no turning back. Extinction is terribly and tragically final. Yes, be a bird proponent.
- Organize events! Like with our Earth Day Yoga Retreat, organize an event at which you can talk about important issues. Educate yourself. Educate one another. Learn and share what you have learned with others
- Join in on an already organized event. Rick and I are so proud to have taken part in the Washington Coast Savers clean up (blog post to come out tomorrow) with our friends Marc and Carrie Flexer. What an unbelievable experience! We felt so empowered to be able to actually do something to protect and clean one of Washington’s most beautiful beach, Shi Shi Beach on the Makah Reservation.
- Another participant at our retreat is a Mountaineer. He often takes part in activities which are based on the preservation and conservation of the environment. He has learned that the number one way to be a proactive environmentalist is to PAY ATTENTION. When we pay attention to the world around us, we draw conclusions, we inform ourselves, we learn, we teach others what we learn, we make sound decisions that have a great positive impact on the environment and all that the world holds.
- Our resident biologist, Brent Matsuda, noted that the more we advance technologically, the less we seem able to adapt to basic survival skills, such as surviving in the wilderness. He has noticed in his field work how young folks can use a GPS perfectly, but if the navigation device malfunctions, they are unable to use a compass. Sometimes people have trouble reading maps. Basic survival skills, such as building a fire to keep warm and avoid hypothermia, are lost to some of our most brilliant “techies”! Brent’s advice is to work with “techies” or people with high technological skills. Teach them not to rely only on technology, because if it breaks down, they will have to know how to find coordinates, for example. Use a calculator, but, by all means, know your basic math and how to calculate in your head. He calls this problem of over-reliance on high technology and ignorance of basic skills “the dumbing of society”. Know how to use technology, and of equal importance, know your basic skills.
- Recognize that we need outside help. This means we need to ask questions and seek answers. We need to look deeply at issues. The “outside” help we need is also literally “outside”! Yes, literally, go outside and be in nature. Let nature be your mentor. Just as our elders, the experts, scientists and teachers among us can be our mentors, let nature have this role as well.
- Be PROACTIVE rather than REACTIVE. Plant trees so you don’t look around one day and wonder why your garden has no shade. Take on healthy eating and general stress-free living habits in order to keep illness at bay. Just as you take measures to make sure you are safe, take measures to ensure the earth stays safe, healthy, and balanced.
- Read Mary Oliver’s poems (or a nature poet who moves you!) again and again and again. Mary Oliver’s poems will leave you with a deep love and reverence for nature. You will feel as if the earth itself is a temple, a cathedral, or a holy place upon which you will want to tread lightly and with great respect. Purchase a few of her poetry books and have them on hand to gift to people you love:
by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.