Friday, October 31, 2014

Loving our mother, earth.

EDIT: reading The Upcycle completely re-opened my eyes, and reminded me that....we don't need to live under the fear of "not enough" or, we have to "minimize our use", when we are working within systems that are interconnected, and regenerating - think: Permaculture. If the water in the shower is heated by our Sun, and then used multiple times before re-entering the traditional water treatement system (i.e used again in the sink, or toilette, then pipped out into the yard where you have a natural grey water treatement area, and the water can then be filtered and soak into your food forest....well that is a completely different story than single use, and water heated by non-renewables...)...just sayin ;)

I recently had a conversation with someone about give and takes re: the environment, and they mentioned that they just loved to take long showers and they were not going to give that up,  it was what they did, they loved them, and it was one area they were not willing to "compromise" in..... but there were other areas they did better in, so, they figured, it all balanced out

I've heard this type of thing more than once, and in fact it tends to be a pretty common thing that comes up. In the moment I've always tended to express gratitude for what they did do, and sort of let the other piece go unsure how to truly handle the comment, feeling uneasy about it but not really sure why, or how to articulate it. 

Here are my thoughts......

It makes me think about how disconnected we are and how we still think of these types of things in terms of "compromise", or "giving something up", as seperate than ourselves. That if we want to be turly "enviro", we have to stop the things we enjoy and to stop all of that would be impossible so we must choose a few.

I am definitely pro taking baby steps, changing one thing at a time, then adjusting your lifestyle around that new change, integrating it, then taking the next thing. And, I recognize it can be very daunting to change everything at once....however, I guess I see that as a continual cycle of change - and maybe even something you changed in the beginning, you may get new information and it causes you to change further down the road....this process to me is not static. Yet in the aforementioned conversation ones mind already appears made up.

To me, what's truly going on here is that we are seeing the issue from an outdated paradigm/mindset. In fact, when you truly feel love for someone, it becomes natural to not want to hurt them. Thus, when we truly feel love for our earth, our mother, to hurt her would not feel right.

This is simply what happens when we love someone, and it's actually quite beautiful how it works.

Where you once maybe got enjoyment from an activity, you now don't because in the very depth of your being, you comprehend that it causes harm, and ultimately, that creates a sense of cognitive dissonance inside us - layman's terms, a feeling that doesn't sit quite right. Usually ones behavior is adjusted accordingly, because we have a desire as humans to not feel this sort of uneasy feeling. We naturally want to feel good - makes sense.

And I think we incorrectly assume that we will feel bad, or limited if we cut certain things out because we think of it only from one direction, from one point of view - of what we are "losing", but we don't think about what we gain, and the feeling we feel when we do what's right for what we love. It might seem counter intuitive for now but actually, we feel good once we stop it, not sad that we don't have whatever it is anymore.

When we love someone, we don't make these sorts of calculated responses.

"Suppose she goes into anaphalcctic shock, well there is a hospital she can go to right, and what are the chances she would die? I can probably keep peanuts around?"

"Well, my mom can't breath properly when I spray this hair spray in the air and it makes her wheeze for days, but I really love this hairspray, nothing makes my hair look as good, and well, I make her breakfast on weekend so, it all balances out right?"

We likely wouldn't even think to this point, our emotions, our feelings, our bodies would speak, they would take over before we started to analyze it because the moment we saw we were hurting someone we loved, we would feel that pain inside, and want to change to remove that pain...and the joy derived from that item, or activity would cease to exist the moment we learned it hurt our loved ones.

When did we lose our deep love for our planet, our mother, our only home, and all our fellow inhabitants - that which gave us life? This very life we're living, The life that allows you to read these words on this page and comprehend.
It's not that I have to tell myself a stern"NO" every moment, that actually, I really want to be doing all these things but I "know" they are wrong and harmful to the environment so I stop myself. It's that I literally do not seek any enjoyment from these things anymore, and in many cases it hurts to do the wrong thing....and not from a place of guilt or shame, but from a place of love. 
For example, if I had to throw compost in the garbage (or anything in the garbage) I would feel tense inside. Why? because I know this isn't the place it belongs, and the only reason I'd be doing it is likely because I don't have time to sit down and seek out where it's proper place should be (i.e. search online what to do with random items I have no idea how to recycle,  or find an artist who may want this item to incorporate into some examples).....and while time does feel very real and has very real implications in our current society, nature does not function on that same time scale...but I digress, because now this could lead into the philosophical realm and I'm trying to keep this grounded (for now). 

People often say "oh just throw it out, it won't hurt...." or "you do so much for this planet already, you can slack a little here" it's getting back to the justification type, wrong or right mentality....but it's not about that, it's not about weighing out the good and the bad - it's about listening to what feels right inside.

I have told people, when asked, that I don't think I would enjoy attending large music festivals anymore because I'd bare witness to all the carelessness, wastefullness, litter and general disregard, and this would quite literally, break my heart. And I should add that large music festivals are things that used to bring me a lot of joy (or so I thought). I went to Sasquatch music festival a few years in a row back when I was younger and loved it so much...but I've changed....the joy doesn't come anymore, because what is in the forefront is the pain I feel. And what's different is it's internal now, not just external. Whereas before I noticed the garbage and thought about it...I now feel it. To me this makes sense, we're all deeply interconnected, and when we hurt the one we love, we hurt too Now, some would look at that and say "wow, she is really missing out on life, because she's too intense, just relax, be casual about it"... but to me, I don't see it that way.

How do I see it? 

While it's true, I don't derive the same enjoyment out of activities and items that I once used to, this is only unfortunate if we stop right there. When you take it a step further you see that while  I may not have "fun" like the mainstream world has fun right now, I have ventured down a path that brings me many joyful moments, and honestly they feel more full of joy because I don't have to deny any part of myself while doing them (the part that would know deep down this is wasteful, or wrong, or harmful to mother nature)'s pure bliss.

So what I wonder is..... where did the love go and how do we get it again? How does love form? 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A little soap for thought - i.e. toxins in our "beauty"'s time to just say no! (part 2)

So, as a continuation to my previous blog entry, re: one of the two soaps I found in the blue bin.... while rinsing it out, and combating the quick forming headache from inhaling the scent....I decided to peer at the ingredients just for fun! 

Let’s look at the ingredient list – for those who can’t see it well in the photo (i.e. probably everyone as it's incredibly hard to read and there is glare) I will list it out…prepare yourselves….

First, they let me know that I should not put it in my eyes, but they also try to minimize the effect that that statement has by prefacing it with “as with any soap”…However I gotta be real here for a second, if I put my limited ingredient, non-sketchy toxin bar soap in my eye…it doesn’t burn, I mean it feels a little funky but all in all it’s okay…and I've had Dr.Bronners in my eyes before too, accidentally of course, and it’s been I’m not sure it’s fair to tell the consumer “as with any soap”…that’s a touch misleading don’t you think? I know of many soaps that won't cause such shenanigans. 

I digress…they go on to share with me the chemical concoction they’ve mixed (i.e. ingrediants) to create this headach inducing liquid soap…the flavour? Vanilla and brown sugar….eliciting in my mind, of course, nice vanilla bean, and some traditional brown sugar…well, that was before I knew the products like this just make me shudder, both metaphorically, and literally...and extra literally because of the weird neuro-toxins in them.....

Aqua, sodium C14-15 olefin sulfonate, lauramide DEA, sodium chloride, cocamidopropyl betaine, parfum, DMDM hydantoin, citric acid, tetrasodium EDTA, polyquaternium-7, glycerin, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, benzophenone-4, hydrolyzed silk, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, yellow-5, red 33.

The bolded ones are some of the sketchier ones that are on lists of ingredients to absolutely avoid. Among the bolded ones above, are formeldyhyde releasing preservatives (DMDM hydantoin - which got a rating of 7 on EWG and noted as a *high hazard*, and petroleum based compounds which can cause a number of issues – skin sensitivity, and also the petroleum ones (PEGs) lead to promotion of greater absorption of the product which …which it’s super sketch when we're talking about other toxic ingredients. I don't know about you but I'd rather not have those get into my body/blood stream. 

The only ingredient I feel fully comfortable with and even then I’m questioning its source, and quality (i.e. is it organic?) it is the aloe leaf juice.

First of all, I understand only one of the ingredients,  second of all, numbers in ingredients (e.g. yellow -5) always freaks me out, third I made soap before, and I have news for all…you do not need such ridiculously toxic ingredients to make your soap. Of course not all the ingredients in that soap are notoriously bad, but some are super sketch, and I think that even just one super sketch one is enough for me. Things also change drastically when we consider that we don't just use one product, once a day...we use a number of products, multiple times per day - that's a lot of exposure....and products don't necessarily get tested from an accumulation point of view. Go figure. 

Compare this to Dr. Bronners – my favourite liquid castile soap around, especially since I can re-fill it and not contribute to excessive plastic bottle waste in this world!

Aqua, cocos nucifera (coconut oil), potassium hydroxide (none actually remains after saponifying oils into soap and glycerine but they are required to say it anyway), olea europaea (olive) oil, cannabis sativa (hemp seed) oil, simmondsia chinesis (jojoba) oil, menthe arvensis extract, menthe peperita (peppermint) oil, citric acid, tocopherol **all are certified fair trade, and certified organic except the last two ingrediants. 

Look at all those different oils – ever wonder why your hands are crazy dry? A lot of the toxins in the former soap (Soft soap), are ridiculously drying…hemp, jojoba, olive, coconut...all great oils for the body.

Long story short, read your ingredient list! If it sounds sketchy, it likely is. Here are some resources to use when unsure as I don't deny, it can be quite overwhelming...but definitely worth the research. 

  1.  Environmental Work Group - they have a number of consumer guides on what to choose in certain categories – i.e. cleaning products, sunscreens, they even have a mobile app! There is one specifically on cosmetics (skin deep) and you can actually search based on chemical too so that is SUPER helpful!! – a great one to check out.
  2. Goodguide  – not all products are up there, and not all information is available, but it can be helpful if the info is available. They rate products on health, environment, and society so that’s pretty cool. It takes a lot of the burden off the consumer as they’ve done a lot of testing already. For example, I looked this particular soap up, it's not the exact one as they don't have it, but in general similar soaps get a rating of  6.2 (note, too, that that would likely be lower if ingredients were included, under health it says “product has insufficient ingredient information”  - so maybe in this example this isn't the best for all products, but it’s generally a pretty good reference for most things, or high level information/comparatives.
  3. I also kept in my wallet as I was learning all this new info, super helpful when going into a shop to acquire a new products as a replacement of an old sketchy one, a print-out of Gill Deacons handy wallet size of “best brands” and “toxins to avoid” found here , as well as a few more I wrote down based on other readings – David Suzuki’s Queen of Green came out with a publication as well, to let us know more about what these toxins truly are and their effects The Dirty Dozen,
  4.  There is also the book – Slow Death by Rubber Duck which actually started this action in me the summer of 2010 after reading it. I headed straight to my bathroom and started looking at all my products and thought WOW….they ALL have sketchy stuff in them. I saw for a moment, surrounded by my million and one products catered to my perceived “specific” needs…curly, frizzy, de-frizz, gel, mouse, yadda yadda…I decided I’d cut all this out, but one at a time so it wasn’t as overwhelming (and as wasteful - though there are some products that are simply so sketch that I just recommend saying NO, immediately - e.g. air fresheners or all conventional cleaning products).  My transition ended up being a complete success and a really informative journey, making a drastic difference in my life – i.e. quality of my hair, skin, nails, is fair better…I mean it makes perfect sense too – how can we continually apply chemicals to our bodies and expect there to not be negative repercussions?
So, the next time you have a headache (as I still do now from washing out those plastic containers almost an hour later), while it may be dehydration, lack of coffee, or might just be because you're been around too many chemicals!

I certainly notice a lot more now that I've cut it out - I liken it to people who smoke, and stop and then try again - their lungs are so much more sensitive, they have lost their resistance - we've all built up a pretty big resistance to chemicals, and until you cut them out and give your body a chance to breath might not notice how much harm you're doing your body.

I’d be happy to talk about this with anyone so just ask, and share too what you have transitioned in your life that you find works great! Having a support network to share in tips and tricks is super helpful when undergoing a purge.

Waste diversion...aka I can't help but look in the bin! (part 1)

Coming home from Groundswell, I came in through the alley as I needed access to our compost since I had brought home our collective food scraps for the week on my bike. If you know me, you know that I can’t be by recycle/garbage receptacles without taking a gander inside…I just can’t.

I found….some binders, a fan that is in incredible condition,  some cords (internet, electrical etc), and a hanger…this was in the garbage. Fun to find, but ultimately sad…sad that people throw this away, especially when it’s in perfect working condition. Anyone need any binders/cables? I think I already found a home for the fan ;). 

In the recycling blue bin I rescued two bottles which had maybe a quarter of their product still inside – i.e. soap. One was a pump bottle for liquid soap which I  was excited about and took since I wanted a bottle to add the bulk liquid soap I got refilled at the Soap Dispensary – I was pretty excited to find this as I really didn't want to buy a soap I didn't really want, and accumulate more plastic, just to get the bottle! So…that’s good. 

The other one I just rinsed out a bit and then put it back, since I figured the city would deem it as “contaminated” and into the garbage it would go.

On that note, I wonder how much we all know about what goes into recycling and what ends up actually being recycled. While we feel good about putting x,y,z in our blue boxes – if it’s not actually an item the city accepts, it will ultimately end up in the landfill. 

So – a recap of what the city of Vancouver accepts (I specify Vancouver since this is where I am and it differs quite drastically depending on which area you’re located in!) Also, this should be noted too that this is only if you get City pick-up if it’s a private recycler (i.e. you're in a business, or condo complex, apartment etc) then what is accepted can be slightly different too. I was going to do my own bulleted list but then this is forever changing, as facilities become better able to accept more items (yay!) so…a link shall suffice

What goes in the GREEN bin  (see the link!) --> basically, anything that was living, grew from soil, or would decompose if left sort of unattended, outside of the fridge, outside. I like to project into the future and imagine, if it got wet – would it ultimately mold and decay? Like…a t-shirt - the answer is yes, because it’s cotton (cotton being a plant), and I can visualize a sort of moldy t-shirt. But would plastic? Nope..the water would bead on it but it wouldn’t penetrate. So yes… I like that sort of visual for helping me navigate the potentially muddy waters…or composted soil?

In terms of what is or is not excepted, just want to draw attention to the image of soil/rocks. At first glance I was thinking to my self - "WHAT…that is clearly organic matter"…and then I realized – OH…it’s because you can dump that outside on the grass/soil/plant bed…etc..and if you live in a condo – well actually, if you live in a condo you probably are not having city pick-up it’s likely a private recycler so you’d want to check with them assuming it's of a similar vein, I’d  just sneak it in there anyway…OR …bring it down and add it to your landscaped areas around your building, or share it with a friend ;) there are always ways….always. :) And, it's fun to exercise our creativity and find them!

I digress, my actual point of wanting to write was to note the horrific chemicals in our traditional soaps and body products and I will use this one soap  I found as an example. However since this is already incredibly long....let's take it to a ...second blog post!