“This is what you have to understand. To us the land was alive. It talked to us. We called her our mother. If she was angry with us, she would give us no food. If we didn’t share with others, she might send harsh winters or plagues of insects. We had to do good things for her and live the way she thought was right. She was the mother to everything that lived upon her, so everything was our brother and sister. The bears, the trees, the plants, the buffalo. They were all our brothers and sisters. If we didn’t treat them right, our mother would be angry. If we treated them with respect and honor, she would be proud.
For your people, the land was not alive. It was something that was like a stage, where you could build things and make things happen. You understood the dirt and the trees and the water as important things, but not as brothers and sisters. They existed to help you humans live. You took the land and you turned it into property. Now our mother is silent. But we still listen for her voice.” – Elder Dan from Neither Wolf nor Dog
This time of year gives us cause for reflection. We naturally look back at what was, and start to imagine how things could be. It can also feel a little overwhelming thinking about the current state of our beautiful world. What can we really do to help? Most of us don’t have millions of dollars to help purify water, or endless hours to commit to fighting for better policy.
What about the little things we can change? Does it even make a difference in the end?
What if we approached the idea in a different way. If I start using cloth napkins, you are correct, that is not going to save the planet or heal the disrespect she has suffered for generations. You know what it will do though? Every small action I put into motion creates a system of changing my focus. It is heart and activism work, and it must start at home, with an individual. When I go to grab a paper napkin, and I remind myself that I only use cloth now, I recommit to my effort of doing my part. To live with integrity that honors the resources and the all the lives that exist upon our beautiful mother earth.
Even more than recommitting myself, it is an example to all those who enter my life and bear witness to my actions. It starts a conversation, gets others to maybe think about something that has never crossed their mind before. It is testimony that making these small but conscious efforts has a ripple effect and will impact more than just my own life.
At this point, I think we all know we must do something to start reducing our waste and increase our awareness of what we are doing to our environment. Hopefully these small efforts become effortless and we will be able to move toward even bigger attempts at adjusting our lifestyle and create a rising tide of change.
Here are a few super simple tasks that allow us to honor, care for, and respect our mother earth and establish some healthy habits without taking up much bandwidth.
- When pumping gas, shake the pump when you are done to keep drops from hitting the concrete which eventually washes into our water system.
- Keep curtains closed during the day to keep the sun from heating your house in the summer, and the cold penetrating the house in the winter. It reduces your energy use lowering your monthly bill while also using less energy resources.
- When planting your flower garden in the spring, try to include one of these plants to care for pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Increase their food supply and lives while also benefiting from the beauty.
- Purchase or make cloth napkins from scrap fabric to help reduce waste. Filling up our garbage bags less means few plastic bags in the landfill!
- Drop that brick in your toilet tank to reduce the amount water you use at every flush! Want to get crazy? Don’t flush after every use and it will reduce it even more! Want to go all out? Combine 4 and 5 and stop using toilet paper and use cloth wipes. One basket for clean, one for dirty.
- Since we are talking about waste water, if you a woman who doesn’t use a diva cup yet for her monthly cycle, make sure you toss your paper products in the trash and not flush them! Help keep our water and filtration system clean! Seriously, though, look into switching to a cup, it is a game changer.
- OR… Purchase tampons without the applicator, helping reduce waste and the energy for recycling.
- Another simple way of preserving water is to TURN THE FAUCET OFF when brushing your teeth. It’s simple. Costs no money or extra energy. It does however have significant effects on helping preserve one of our most valuable resources. That water isn’t doing anything but running down a drain. Save it. Don’t waste it.
- Time to UNPLUG those chargers that aren’t in use! It racks up your bill, and uses up limited resources. When you pull your phone from the plug, keep going and also unplug that cord from the wall.
- Do you have a garden? Put a couple of 5 gallon buckets outside to collect rainwater to water your plants. Utilize our natural resources instead of taxing our system of water filtration and allotment.
- Purchase a second hand store water bottle and reusable coffee cup. Keep them in your car for those spur of the moment “I NEED coffee now” or “I am dehydrated!” times.
- Have reusable grocery bags in the back of your car at all times, and use them whenever you shop.
- If you are stopping and waiting for someone with your car idling, PLEASE turn it off! Idling cars is a leading cause to poor air quality in urban areas.
- Don’t throw your kids old play clothes away, use those stained T’s as reusable rags for cleaning!
- Pick up a piece of trash on the ground when you see it.
- Hop off those electronic devises and go take a walk in the woods or a park to remind yourself why our earth needs our love and attention. Spend some time with her. Listen to the wind or waves and reconnect to the soul that holds you and cares for you. Get grounded. Reconnect.
Stay curious. Build more empathy. Connect to your neighbors, create family and community. Focus on being mindful in every little action. Commit to little changes. Live with purpose and intent. Have a fabulous New Year! Love, Gatherhaus.