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 with green, eco-friendly, bio-degradable products: cleaning products, laundry detergent, toilet paper, household products, etc. If you buy or make it scent free, you can add your own essential oils (mmmmm eucalyptus-scented kitchen counters…)
:: 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. Reduce the amount of plastic you use. Do it for love. For example, change plastic containers with mason jars (looks so good), use beeswax coated sandwich wrap to replace plastic wrap, or you can even make your own.
:: Do your natural food stores give you the possibility to refill your household and food products instead of buying new ones (shampoo / dishwashing liquid / washing machine liquid)? And have you been wanting to do it, but have felt overwhelmed even before you started? Well you know what to do, yes, choose ONE thing, and then you will have more power to take the next step. And how about the bonus pleasure of choosing beautiful glass bottles and containers to store them in?
:: Clear clutter in your home by going paperless. Get yourself off mailing lists. This is easy to do on the websites of the sender, or by emailing your bank, phone company, etc. If you do many at once, you can use the same letter. You can also use this unsubscribe company to help you get off lists. For the love of trees.
:: Start a small garden in your home or backyard—yes, you can even start with just one potted plant or packet of seeds. 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. (Winter plants that can grow inside but by a window with light include spinach, carrots, garlic, onions, lettuce, and radishes.)
:: Compost vegetable scraps as a practice in honoring death, darkness and decay—reclaiming these much-needed children of Gaia that the Sky Gods have rejected.
:: Make your own beauty and daily care products with a friend as a nourishing and rejuvenating spa afternoon, or host an animal cruelty-free spa night using these cruelty-free brands (or Chameli’s favorite, livinglibations.) Here is a list of brands that do use animal testing that you may want to avoid.
AWI team member Karen’s recipe for toothpaste: baking soda, coconut oil and food-quality peppermint essential oil. Keep it in a small glass jar…so good!
:: Be curious about the ingredients of food products, and 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, like Monsanto 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 by 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, and if you have the option, opt to buy things that are not processed or have less packaging. Buy in bulk. 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.
:: To replace single-use containers, bring your own jar, thermos, or container with you when out purchasing drinks and food, and stylize your containers with beautiful art, words or prayers, so that you drink and eat your prayers even outside your home.
:: When flying, bring your empty water bottle with you and fill it once you are through airport security. End dependency on bottled water and disposable bottles. 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 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 to reduce waste on packaging of small snacks you buy at the airport. Prepare yourself healthy, delicious snacks (daikon radish and carrot sticks, a sandwich, kale salad) as an act of self-love before traveling.
:: Bring your own thermos/travel mug, and just ask for hot water at the airport. Bring your favorite tea bags with you as a treat! Airport cafes simply cannot compare…
AWI team member Dominique’s favorite teas: Numi Three Roots (with ginger, licorice and rose), Yerba Mate, or Cinnamon Vanilla Skin Yogi Tea.
:: Walk or use a bicycle more often to pollute less, breathe fresh air, and 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, so that your travels can 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.
:: As a Lakshmi practice of abundance and way to become involved in your community, consider donating a certain amount per month to renewable energy projects or environmental groups near you that are doing great things.
Here are fun 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 ($2.99) offer 52 steps on how to make your home green.
:: Follow people on Instagram for little reminders and inspiration on how to change daily/lifestyle habits. For example, @zerowastehome and @livingwastefree.
top photo of Yosemite National Park, taken by Dominique Youkhehpaz