I work for Elephant Journal, whose mission is all about the Mindful Life.
This includes yoga, organics, sustainability, conscious consumerism, enlightened education, the contemplative arts, adventure, bicycling, family, everything that’s good for others, and our planet.
My values sit well here. I strive to do my best for the Earth every day, I seek to live as my authentic self, and I want to do what I can to be of benefit to others.
The problem is though, that I’m not perfect. I don’t always live as I would wish to. Lately, this has been bothering me, and I have felt like a fake, a hypocrite.
So, here are my confessions:
>> I drive a diesel engine car.
>> I only eat a 90% vegan diet.
>> I have collected bags of “non-recyclable” waste with the intention of recycling them and then binned them in the general household waste.
>> I occasionally still buy bottled water or a drink in a disposable cup.
>> I am fortunate to work from home, and I plan my journeys for the week so as to make as few trips as is necessary.
>> I am fortunate to have cow’s milk and eggs delivered directly from the local farm.
>> When I can afford to buy a box from Terracycle in which to recycle the waste, I do so.
>> I always take flasks of water on outings and seek to obtain tap water to refill them. Bottled water is always a last resort, especially where it’s only sold in plastic bottles. When I remember to take it with me, I use my Elephant Journal eco mug for hot drinks.
Despite all that I do to reduce the environmental damage of my actions, I’m heavily conscious that the mileage I drive impacts our planet, and that every item of rubbish I bin contributes to our Internationally growing problem of plastic refuse. When shopping now, I make choices based on what will come of the item or its packaging when I have no further use for it.
Knowing that a lot of our waste could be recycled, but that our local governments won’t fund or facilitate it, is both frustrating and upsetting. During today’s trip to our local council-run recycling centre, I once again felt the familiar feeling of sadness as I looked at the full skips of “non-recyclable” waste. I watched as the attentive staff moved what items they could to skips where they will be processed for recycling, and commented about how it’s such as shame that so much exists which cannot be recycled—the man replied, “It’s a throwaway society, isn’t it.” My heart sank a little further.
At times I am even conflicted while making life decisions. Choosing to do things that will enhance the lives of myself and my children, but which will also have an impact on the environment, feels as if I am going against my basic beliefs.
For example, whilst on holiday recently I considered hiring a basic electric powered motorboat to take the children out on a lake, but was torn between the joy the experience would offer versus the energy usage and damage to the environment. I felt guilty.
It dawned on me that if I did absolutely everything that I could to reduce my impact on the planet, I would have a drastically different and far more restricted life.
As I pondered my predicament, I remembered a joke my dad used to say:
Then I started to think about how little further changes to my own life would have in the greater scheme of things and how there are many people who still take less consideration in their decision making than I do. Why am I feeling guilty over such small actions, when others live carefree without any consideration for how they are impacting the future world, which our children will inherit?
Maybe if everyone was a little more mindful of their impact and made small changes to their lives, together the group effect would be far more meaningful than if I seek to restrict my life further.
We can all:
>> Recycle everything within our means.
>> Drive as little as is genuinely possible.
>> Eat less animal products.
>> Shop consciously and locally.
>> Consider the impact of our lifestyle choices on the planet.
If everyone took a pledge to the planet and did these five things, the impact would be far greater than any further minor changes that I can introduce to my personal life.
I’ve decided that whilst I can strive to do more, I also need to respect the outside forces which affect my decisions. I can feel proud of what I do achieve, and appreciate the peace that comes in the times when I live in alignment with my values.
The conclusion I’ve arrived at is that as long as I do the best that I can in each moment, then in the words of Nightbirde, “it’s okay.”