There are times when the state of the world—especially the condition of your local water, soil and air– can make you feel helpless. Truth is, the little changes we make together can add up to an enormous shift in our collective wellbeing and doing them can be a part of our spiritual practice! I consider the actions I take everyday to take care of the natural world to be part of keeping good faith with those spirits who support my life, with the spirits of my ancestors and also on behalf of my descendants.
What follows here is a list of a few things you can do to make a difference. You may already be doing some of them. If so, look for other ways you can take a stand for sustaining your family while giving back. (I’ve included resource links whenever possible to make your changes that much easier!)
Shedding light on savings:
If every household in the United States swapped out even ONE of their incandescent lights with a compact fluorescent bulb, or better yet an LED bulb, the pollution reduction would be equivalent to removing one million cars from the road. LED bulbs last up to 25 times longer than their incandescent bulb forbearers. Just make sure to recycle CFL and LED bulbs at your local recycling facility or hardware store.
TIP: LEDs have come down in price! This site offers comparison shopping and tips including wattage equivalents and how to buy the right color temperature bulb for different purposes in your home: https://www.earthled.com/products/feit-performanceled-a23-omni-directional-32-watt-2500-lumens-150-watt-equal#.VQl1JkKIUrk
TIP: If you prefer CFL bulbs and want better illumination, use OttLite true-color bulbs. These are the same bulbs used by artists and crafters for decades in situations where good lighting really matters. OttLite’s new CFLs are brighter and more like real sunlight. They’re a bit more expensive but the true-color lighting is worth it! www.ott-lite.com/c-92-bulbstubes.aspx
Tuck in your electronics:
Many electronic devices suck power even when asleep. At night, power down to save your self some money on the electric bill and do something good for the environment in one fell swoop!
TIP: Turn on the computer on the way to making your morning coffee or tea. By the time your morning cuppa is ready, you’ll be all set to read your daily e-newspaper!
Hang ‘em high:
Did you know your drier contributes to the demise of your clothes? Not only does your clothes dryer use a significant amount of energy, it can actually shorten the life of your clothes because of wear and tear on the fabric. Hang your duds on a clothesline outside or drying rack indoors to save a bundle on clothes.
TIP: During the heating season, the extra humidity in the air from drying clothes can benefit you and your wooden furniture!
Colder is better:
…at least in terms of your laundry! If all the households in the United States switched to using warm or cold water cycles for clothes washing, we could save energy comparable to 100,000 barrels of oil every day!
TIP: Use a peroxide-based bleach to safely sanitize clothes as well as keeping them whiter and brighter. Peroxide is much safer than chorine for your septic system BUT even safer bleach can actually kill off the bacteria that are responsible for breaking down the waste in your cesspool if you use a lot! That means you’ll be paying to have it pumped out more often.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, Americans went through about 50,000,000,000 (that’s fifty billion) plastic water bottles just during last year! Fill up a reusable water bottle at home and bring it with you. If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, buy a quality water filter but remember, your household tap water actually has to meet higher quality and safety standards than bottled water!
TIP: We use stainless steel water bottles by Kleen Kanteen www.kleankanteen.com for everyday. They’re made from #304 food-grade stainless steel, are pretty indestructible (one survived freezing with water in it!) and don’t leave an aftertaste in the water.
If you prefer using glass check out these amazing and beautiful miron violet glass bottles: www.surthrival.com/gear/miron-glass-water-bottle.html Miron Violet glass blocks visible light with the exception of the violet part of the spectrum. At the same time it allows in radiation in the spectral range of UV-A, and infrared light. The unique combination offers optimal protection against the aging processes that are released by visible light, thus lengthening durability and potency of products. This kind of bottle is especially good if you’re somebody that adds medicinal tinctures to your drinking water!
Shorten your shower:
According to Stanford University,
every two minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than ten gallons of water. This is critical as fresh water is a scarce resource. (If you don’t think so, ask folks in California who have only one year of drinking water left in reservoirs or residents of towns in Texas and New Mexico where their drinking water sources have completely dried up!) If everyone in our country saved just one gallon from their daily shower, over the course of the year it would equal twice the amount of freshwater withdrawn from the Great Lakes every day.
TIP: A five-minute shower uses 10-25 gallons of water. (Energy efficient showerheads use the lesser amount.) Shut the water off while you lather up. Even a 20-second pause can save nearly two gallons of water!
Local is better:
There is often a considerable amount of pollution created when transporting your food from the farm to your table. To offset the carbon load this creates, whenever possible, buy from local farmers, fishermen and ethical foragers of wild foods. This supports your local economy and reduces the amount of greenhouse gas created when products are flown or trucked in. Here in Maine, we can access locally raised vegetable produce, meats, eggs, dairy products (from cows, goats and sheep), poultry, locally sourced fish and game, foraged vegetables, mushrooms and other treats too numerous to mention. Tap into the local food scene in your area to
TIP: Local Harvest can help you to tap into local resources for food: http://www.localharvest.org as can Local Dirt: http://localdirt.com. You can also contact http://www.eatwild.com/PRODUCTS/index.html.
For an even better positive impact, remember to buy mostly organic! Organic farms don’t use chemical pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, which are often made from petroleum products. They also refrain from sterile GMO seeds. Organically raised animals are more humanely treated and their meat, milk or eggs are not laden with unbeneficial antibiotics or hormones. Your body and your planet will thank you!
Never mind the “paper or plastic” conundrum as neither are good choices. Keep reusable shopping bags in your car for your trips to the market. Washable bags are best as they can be sanitized easily. Bags are a great second-hand store purchase! We keep our market bags folded up inside one bag. The handles of that outer bag are clipped together with a super-size karabiner. This assures that all the folded bags stay neatly inside. When we get into the market, we just clip the karabiner containing all of our bags to the shopping cart handle. That way they’re handy but not taking up room in the cart.
TIP: Bags are a valuable second-hand store purchase! If you’re handy and want a personal touch, you might want to make your own beautiful bags: http://tipnut.com/35-reusable-grocery-bags-totes-free-patterns. Here is a link to purchase the oversized karabiner clip: www.coghlans.com/products/large-biner-carry-handle-1152
Recycle–everything you can!
Most everyone is getting on the recycling bandwagon, but do you know you may have some things that are easily recycled and can bring you a few dollars, to boot? Your electronics (mp3 players, computers, cell phones, etc.) can make you money or be used to benefit a worthy cause.
TIP: My old, iPhone 3 earned me a $120 Amazon gift certificate, which made this book-aholic very happy. I used Gizelle who also will pay cash for old iPads and Mac computers. http://www.gazelle.com It pays to do an online search as there are other reputable firms who will buy back your old phone and even a broken one can net you a few bucks. Some charities also take old electronics. Here is a list from Mashable: http://mashable.com/2010/04/29/donating-electronics
Save a back!
Get off catalog and other junk mailing lists to help relieve your postal carrier’s daily burden, reduce your household waste and contribute to saving a whole lot of trees. In addition, you’ll be contributing to reducing the amount of energy savings used to print these unwanted things.
TIP: Here is a site with tips to reducing your unwanted junk mail: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/reducewaste/home/junkmail.htm
Let your fingers to the walking–on your keyboard!
Stop your phone directory delivery. Now. It is estimated that up to 10% of all waste at municipal dump sites is comprised of old telephone books! Not only are they cumbersome to use and impossible for middle-aged eyes to read, in most cases they are far less accurate than online sources.
TIP: Recycle your old phonebooks or shred them for garden mulch. Use online telephone directories to search for numbers such as http://www.anywho.com/whitepages
Become a part-time vegetarian:
Just one less meat-based meal a week helps the planet and your diet. (For example: It requires approximately 2,500 gallons of fresh water to produce one pound of beef.) Adding veggies to the diet also boosts the amount of phytonutrients you ingest which are beneficial for good health.
TIP: Here are a few vegetarian burger recipes you can experiment with: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/veggieburgerrecipes/Vegetarian_Veggie_Burger_Recipes.htm
Lose the lawn:
The typical American suburban lawn is a toxic monoculture that is detrimental to the environment. Indeed, A new study from the University of California at Irvine has determined that maintaining grass lawns produce four times the amount of carbon naturally collected and store by the lawn itself. Lawn mowing, leaf blowing, irrigation, lawn fertilizer manufacturing, and the nitrous oxide released from soil after fertilization all contribute to an overall degradation of the environment. Not only that, the monoculture of grass is detrimental to healthy biodiversity.
TIP: Let weeds grow in the lawn. We have edible plantain, dandelion, clover, chives and other yummy “weeds” that look very nice when cut! The benefit of these plants is we can harvest them for salads or other treats. Our local beneficial insects, birds and animals are nourished by the natural browse, too. Another option is to invest in easy-care native plants or carve out a part of the yard for an organic vegetable or herb garden!
Help to sustain the birds, animals and beneficial insects around your neighborhood by sowing organic, native seeds. We sowed over 100 native milkweed seeds last Autumn to benefit the endangered Monarch Butterfly by using seed bombs/balls. These are small balls of clay, compost and vermiculite with two or three native seeds inside. In some cities, the same “technology” is being used to turn abandoned urban lots into organic, edible plant gardens. They are a blast to make and fun to toss. Work with your neighbors and property owners to “adopt” a growing site and then do a community seed bombing of that area! By seed bombing empty fields, along roadsides, the islands in parking lots and your own backyard you will help to create healthy, native wildflower meadows for you and other critters to enjoy.
TIP: Here is a site with great seed ball info: http://seed-balls.com They offer kits and supplies to arm your family, school class, scout troop or neighborhood with plenty of seed ball ammo! http://seed-balls.com/shop/supplies
Don’t want to get your hands dirty? This site offers 100% NON GMO seed ball packs that have been premade for your region of the USA: http://www.americanmeadows.com/gardening-gifts/seed-bombs gclid=CjwKEAjwxKSoBRCZ5oyy87DimEcSJADiWsvgDuVlt4mk3dK-9nZlBpo7MSdG_k5jzz_22wsea3sHURoC66jw_wcB
Give away and trade!
Before you toss something that is still useable, think if someone else might need it. You can donate to Goodwill or other charities to get a tax deduction. Another option is to post it on the web as a trade or give-away.
TIP: This web-based community organization is a terrific resource for getting goods into the hands of people who can use them! http://www.freecycle.org
If you have other great environmental ideas, use the comment section to share them with our readers. Together we can keep working to save this marvelous world for future generations of her inhabitants. And bless you for ALL that you already do!
Blessings to you, Evelyn
© 2015 Evelyn C. Rysdyk
Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Spirit Walking a Course in Shamanic Power,A Spirit Walker’s Guide to Shamanic Tools, Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, and contributor to Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Healthcare; Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. Her web site is http://www.evelynrysdyk.com.