Mother’s Day gratitude is good for her & good for you.
I will look upon this land as Mother
Her body and her breath so strong
From the mountains to the deep deep waters
—”Mother,” by Trevor Hall
Who’s your mama? Who supports & sustains & loves you regardless of how you treat her? Who is always there for you? Mother Earth. Now is a great time to express your appreciation for her with some attitude adjustment. The truth is, it doesn’t much matter to her. She was here long before we arrived & will be here long after we’re gone. But if you want a place to call home & for your children & grandchildren to call home, you might just wanna start showing her some gratitude. Here are some ways to start.
1. Ban the Bottle
If you still, even occasionally, buy water in plastic bottles, it is seriously time to step up your game & step into the 21st century. Plastic water bottles are so 1990! If you are traveling in the outback of a third-world country and there’s no electricity to charge your SteriPEN & you’ve run out of iodine tablets, we’ll cut you some slack, but otherwise: Carry a freakin’ to-go bottle. There’s no excuse not to—you can buy them everywhere, you can coordinate them with your outfit, with your backpack, your ride. If you don’t have access to filtered water when you’re out & about, a little tap water (unless you’re in Michigan) isn’t going to hurt you if it comes down to that. And you can even get bottles with filters. A friend gave me one by WaterGeeks years ago & I rarely travel without it.
2. Raise the Bar
Remember when soap was solid, when you didn’t have to squeeze it or pump it out of a cylinder made of petrochemicals? Guess what? It still is. Really. I haven’t done the math, but I am almost positive that besides being way better for the environment than p-l-a-s-t-i-c, buying soap by the bar is also way better for your wallet. It’s a win-win!
3. Get Out Your Handkerchief
Help save Mom’s forests by reducing reducing reducing the amount of paper you use & toss. You don’t have to give up toilet paper (unless you want to), but how about giving up tissues? Switch to cotton handkerchiefs & your nose won’t be rubbed raw the next time you have a cold, your snot-catcher won’t rip mid-blow & you won’t be flecked with white fuzz like a Christmas tree the next time your nose needs a wipe. I use bandannas, which I accumulated during a do-rag phase, & I’ve got some very fem hankies that belonged to my nana as well. I leave them everywhere—purse, night table, Camelback, meditation cushion—so there’s always one where my nose is. You can buy them in bulk on Etsy & Amazon & then always have plenty of spares when your friends ask you for a tissue. Oh, yeah, (clean) handkerchiefs also make great napkins for your takeout.
4. Toss the (Paper) Towels
If you need hard facts to convince you that that roll of Bounty is a forest destroyer & water waster, see Bonus Trax below. But if you just need a solution to the problem, it’s Nano Towels to the rescue. Not only can you use them to clean or dry pretty much everything, you don’t have to use any nasty chemically products with them (just water) & you will get 300 to 400 uses out of each towel. Disclaimer: Ordering them is still on my to-do list, but I did give up paper towels years ago. Let me know how you like them.
5. Do It Yourself
The Internet is chock-full of websites with recipes for all kinds of cleaning & self-care products that are healthier for you & the environment. If I had better hair, I might smack down & make my own shampoo, which would allow me to refill one existing bottle ad infinitum rather than constantly purchase a new one, creating more plastic trash. (Oh, sure, those bottles can be recycled, in theory, if your local facility has the means, but probably not the best use of energy in any case, right?) Since I’m too vain for that, I’ve at least eliminated the necessity of buying glass/window cleaner by making my own. It’s simple: ¼ c white vinegar + ¼ c alcohol (not vodka!) + 1T cornstarch + 10 drops lavender essential oil all shook up with 2 c water in your empty glass-cleaner spray bottle. Course, when I get me some Nano Towels, which require only water for cleaning, I won’t need even that.
6. Bulk Up
And don’t do it with plastic bags! The world uses & throws away more than a TRILLION plastic bags a year, according to a recent New Yorker article. That’s a lot of zeros, a lot of nonrenewable fossil fuels sucked out of the earth & a lot of not-biodegradable, hazardous waste, especially for our ocean-dwelling friends. (If you’ve never heard of garbage gyres,
get with Google.) Get a bunch o’ cloth bags, which you can fill with everything from carrots to granola. Some markets, like Alfalfa’s, even let you bring your own containers (go with glass!) & will weigh them empty & give you the tare. Don’t ask me why Whole Foods won’t let you.
7. Write a Letter
As Dan Savage would say, “Use your words.” In my teacher-training “bible,” we were encouraged to write one letter a week to improve the world around us. I can’t say that I’ve kept up the pace, but I do make efforts to let the powers that be know that I think they could be doing better, whether by going face-to-face with customer service in-store, sending an email or signing a petition. My current cause du jour (is that redundant?) is a result of buying Chocolate Tree’s amazing Live Tomato Wraps, Nori Nachos & Flat Bread from Raw Food World, where I spend more money than I should on high-quality nuts ’n’ stuff. Those goodies (omg, the wraps wrap without crumbling!) came in “omnidegradable” packaging. Wow, I thought, I am going to have to get Matt (Monarch, the raw guru behind Raw Food World) on board. You can’t send cloth bags to Matt & have his warehouse peeps fill ’em up, but maybe I could get him to switch from nasty plastic to omnidegradable packaging so I don’t have to feel guilty every time I order brazil nuts or almonds from him. Yes, I could not order. I could buy inferior (& more expensive) nuts in bulk locally. Which would be more ecological transportation-wise. In my defense, I have given up shrink-wrapped grilled artichoke hearts & won’t buy berries in clamshells. Anyhoo, I emailed Matt. We’ll see. Meanwhile, I think it would be great if, say, Whole Foods & Vitamin Cottage, which packages all of its bulk items in plastic, got with the program, so they should get ready to hear from me.
8. Bee a Gardener
You know that bee populations have been dive-bombing for decades, right? And that our lives are intricately intertwined with the lives of bees, right? Bees pollinate about a sixth of the flowering plant species worldwide and approximately 400 different food crops. Besides fewer flowers, no bees would mean no broccoli, asparagus, cantaloupes, cucumbers, pumpkins, blueberries, watermelons, almonds, apples, cranberries & cherries. We need them, but they also need us. All that pollen (protein) they spread around & all that plant nectar (carbs) they dip into is what sustains them: they get fed & our crops get fertilized, which means we get fed too—a mutually beneficial relationship if ever there was one. If you’re a farmer, you can help the sitch by not using pesticides & stopping your monoculture practices. If you’re not a farmer, you can plant a bee-friendly garden to help increase the buzz. You don’t even need a garden—you can put a pot of flowers on your balcony. Bees love hollyhocks (which, eeegads, I personally don’t & ignorantly hacked outta my yard—sorry, bees!), Echinacea, Shasta daisies & Sedum spectabile. But different bees like different flowers depending on where you live, so do a little research before you plant. Check out this awesome Ted Talk about the plague on bees by Marla Spivak:
9. Go Vegan. Duh!
One of the biggest gifts you can give Ma Earth is to step away from the meat & dairy. I’m sure you know that the amount of water that goes into producing one hamburger could keep you in showers for two months. I’m sure you know that animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of the Amazon’s destruction. I’m sure you know that all the food we grow to feed the animals we feed on could feed all the world’s starving masses. I’m sure you know that the methane from animal farts is a bigger greenhouse-gas producer than CO2. But did you know that by eating a vegan diet you cut your CO2 production in half & use one-eleventh the amount of oil, a third as much water & one-eighteenth as much land as a meat eater? If you didn’t & care about the impact your personal food choices make on the planet we call home, check out the documentary Cowspiracy.
• Trevor Hall’s “Mother.”
• To make one ton of paper towels 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water are polluted. • In the U.S. we currently use more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels each year and that number is growing steadily. This equals more than 3,000 tons of paper towel waste in the U.S. alone. • Globally, discarded paper towels result in 254 million tons of trash every year. • As many as 51,000 trees per day are required to replace the number of paper towels that are discarded every day. • If every household in the U.S. used just one less 70-sheet roll of paper towels, that would save 544,000 trees each year. • If every household in the U.S. used three less rolls per year, it would save 120,000 tons of waste and $4.1 million in landfill dumping fees. Source: The Paperless Project
• Bee friendly: Get the 411 on bee gardens &, yes, bee baths here.
• Did you know that honeybees are factory-farmed & treated with the same indifference to their divine nature as other farmed beings? Unfortunately, ya can’t make this stuff up. See for yourself here.