My main intent for this blog is to share books, poems and other literature that has touched me or otherwise helped me on my own path of self improvement. However, today I wanted to talk about a change I’ve recently made in my life and the impact that’s had on me. In growing in my mindfulness practice I’ve come to a greater understanding of being more (wait for it) mindful of myself and my actions. Of my responsibility to the earth as we all belong to her.
According to National Geographic estimates, there are more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic trash in our oceans. Additionally, it’s estimated that some 90% of plastic isn’t recycled. I stopped to think about my life and especially the amount of plastic waste I was contributing. Disposable utensils, food storage containers, straws and water bottles. Sure, they’re convenient but to what end? It was making me sick to think of the resources used in creating and transporting disposable utensils, straws, plates and groceries bags only to be used for a few minutes of convenience and discarded. Many of these items end up in landfills (taking many hundreds of years to decompose, if at all) or worse, in our oceans and waterways.
This has served a twofold benefit for me. One, I’m making an— admittedly minuscule— effort to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the world and two, it’s made me more mindful. Mindful of the beverage I’m about to consume. Instead of just grabbing a plastic bottle of water and drinking it mindlessly, I fill one of my glass water bottles. I am appreciative of the bottle itself, the beautiful design, the satisfying heft of it in my hand, of the cold water, I am more mindful of the whole process because filling my own bottle necessitates it. It really reminds me of this quote from zen master Thich Nhat Hanh:
“You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea.
Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup.
Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy.
If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the
future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of
You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone.
Life is like that.
If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone.
You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life.
It will seem to be speeding past you. The past is finished.
Learn from it and let it go.
The future is not even here yet. Plan for it, but do not waste your time worrying about it.
Worrying is worthless.
When you stop ruminating about what has already happened, when
you stop worrying about what might never happen, then you will be in the
Then you will begin to experience joy in life.”
I started my waste reduction efforts with grocery shopping: replacing single use plastic bags with canvas totes that hold significantly more than their plastic counterparts. I’ve been able to replace single use plastic produce bags with small cotton drawstring bags. I’m also slowly making the switch to reusable fabric sandwich bags and beeswrap which is an awesome reusable wrap to replace plastic wrap and tin foil. Etsy is a great source for purchasing some of these durable and reusable products; often from small businesses and independent artisans.
I’ve also rethought my lunch habits. I have a small bag I carry with a fork, spoon, cloth napkin and metal straw. Is it less convenient than grabbing and tossing plastic? Yes, definitely. But it’s better for the environment and better for my soul. I am more appreciative of the meal I am eating when I use a gorgeous linen napkin and real silverware. Is it slightly ridiculous that I eat my yogurt with a sterling silver dessert spoon that my aunt gave me? Yes. Absolutely. I wouldn’t have it any other way.