Photo credit: Dominique Youkehepaz of Yosemite National Park
Here is a list of practical steps you can take for Gaia. Start by picking one or two areas to focus on.
Root yourself in the Yoga of Sufficiency; focus on what you can do. Remember that this is a practice of abundance, positive action and LOVE, and not about cynicism and self-flagellation.
Remember to celebrate every shift you make, big and small. Celebration cultivates resilience in you, and you will need plenty of that: it takes time to change habits.
In the Home
:: Let’s begin with an easy one. One at a time, replace toxic products in your home. Such as laundry detergent, toilet paper and other cleaning and household products. Replace them with green, eco-friendly, bio-degradable products. And, if you buy or make it scent free, you can add your own essential oils (mmmmm eucalyptus-scented kitchen counters…).
:: Reduce the amount of plastic you use. Let’s face it, we live in a plastic addicted culture, and yes, it can be really nauseating when we begin to wake up to just how much we use it. Again, change happens one step at a time. Do it for love. Some examples of easy plastic swaps: mason jars and beeswax coated wraps (learn how to make your own).
:: Refill your household and food products. If your natural food stores give you the possibility to refill instead of buying new bottles e.g. shampoo / dishwashing liquid / washing machine liquid, try this option the next time you need to buy more of these products. There’s also the bonus pleasure of choosing beautiful glass bottles and containers to store them in!
:: Clear clutter in your home by going paperless. For the love of trees. You can start by removing yourself from mailing lists. This is easy to do on the websites of the sender, or by emailing and asking your bank, phone company, etc to go paperless. If you write to many at once, you can use the same letter. Try this unsubscribe company to help you get off lists.
:: Start a small garden in your home or backyard. You can even start with one packet of seeds or experiment with growing indoor vegetables by the window. Make your garden a yogini practice: water and care for the plant as you would care for the whole earth and humanity. Watch the miracle of how nature grows abundantly and how we depend on the earth’s body to live.
:: Compost vegetable scraps. Do it as a practice in honoring death, darkness and decay.
:: Make your own beauty and daily care products. Try it with a friend as a nourishing and rejuvenating spa afternoon, or host an animal cruelty-free spa night using these cruelty-free brands. Here is a list of brands that do use animal testing that you may want to avoid.
:: Be curious about the ingredients of food products. Research what effects they have on the environment (for example, palm oil). Take your Durga stance as you move through the grocery store, rooted in a dedication to integrity.
:: Refrain from buying products from companies that are known to be harmful to the earth. Monsanto (Bayer) and Nestle to mention a couple. Be patient and forgiving with yourself as you become educated, and notice how GOOD it feels when you shop with integrity.
:: Practice Meat-Free Mondays. Try cooking a new or favorite vegetarian recipe for yourself, your family, or with a friend. Eating less meat and animal products reduces our carbon footprint up to 20%.
:: Be mindful of how much plastic is used in the packaging of the things you buy. If you have the option, buy in bulk! Or opt to buy things that are not processed or have less packaging. As you select the item with less packaging, offer to Gaia a layer of your own plastic/packaging—old habits or personas—that you are ready to release.
:: Replace single-use containers. Bring your own jar, thermos, or container with you when out purchasing drinks and food. You can even stylize your containers with beautiful art, words or prayers, so that you drink and eat your prayers even outside your home.
:: End dependency on bottled water and disposable bottles. When flying, bring your empty water bottle with you. Fill it once you are through airport security. Many airports now have water-bottle-friendly water fountains, and you can even ask the flight attendant to pour water into your water bottle, so you don’t even have to use a plastic cup on board. As you fill your water bottle, say a prayer for the healing of the waters on Earth.
:: Bring your own utensils, containers and snacks. This helps to reduce waste on packaging of small snacks you buy at the airport. Prepare yourself healthy, delicious snacks as an act of self-love before traveling.
:: Bring your own thermos/travel mug. You can ask for hot water at the airport and bring your favorite tea bags with you as a treat! Airport cafes simply cannot compare to homemade beverages.
:: Walk or use a bicycle more often. Help offset your carbon footprint with creating less air pollution. It is also an opportunity to move more slowly through the world. Embody the wisdom that we can reach our destination without compromising our values on the journey there.
:: Buy carbon offsets when you fly or take a road trip. You can use your travels as a way to fund the growth of trees in the world. (Or become a member of TreeSisters!) You can calculate your carbon emissions here, and here is an organization where you can choose the specific project you would like to donate to.
:: Donate to a renewable energy project or environmental groups near you. Do it as a Lakshmi practice of abundance and a way to become involved in your community.
Here are fun phone apps that track and inspire our impact on the environment:
:: JouleBug (free) helps you cut down on your carbon footprint by sending reminders to take steps to a more sustainable lifestyle. You can connect with friends on this app and support each other to live in integrity with your values. Gain points each time you make a different choice!
:: GoGreen Carbon Tracker (free) tracks the energy and water consumption in your home; a practice of mindfulness in the home.
:: Refresh & Gogreen (free) offers 52 steps on how to make your home green.