Your mama is so dirty, her landfills are overflowing! OK, this joke is lame—but the point is, no one wants to hear mean jokes about his mama. In fact, people have an inherent desire to protect and honor their mamas.
Mother Earth is your mama.
Try these statements on, in place of the joke:
Your mama’s so sweet, she’s got sugar cane growing right out of her body. Your mama’s so beautiful, she’s covered in flowers and blue water. Your mama’s so selfless, she provides food and shelter for you no matter how you treat her.
Most of us aren’t intentionally harming the planet. We’re all at least mildly conscious that our garbage accumulation is embarrassingly superfluous and that our contribution to global warming via greenhouse gas emissions is alarming.
If you’re already taking steps to reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost, that’s wonderful! Give yourself a high five—but no matter what your contributions are to keeping Mother Earth a viable place to live, you can always do more.
As massage therapists, we have an ethical responsibility to model environmental protection. After all, if we aren’t the picture of natural health, who is?
The most fundamental change we can make to be greener is to recondition our thinking about people being entirely separate from each other. Regardless of title, race, age, political views, labels or gender, we’re all people, and all of us share this beautiful planet.
All people have a responsibility to take care of their habitat. Without launching into a tangent here about my passion for meditating, I’ll simply say that five minutes of meditation per day will help grow your oneness point of view.
Once you’ve accepted that we’re all supporting each other and sharing responsibility for our planet, you’re ready for the second most fundamental change in bettering Earth: Using less. “Using less of what?” you might ask.
“Everything,” I say. “Consume less of everything.”
I challenge you to go through one week of using a little less of everything. Eat a little less. Wash your hair a little less. Use less soap and less toilet paper. Turn off your car engine when stopped at a traffic light to use less gas. Hang up your clothes if they’ve just been worn once, or twice, and wear them again to save water and detergent.
I‘m not suggesting that you abandon your hygiene habits and starve yourself, but what would it be like if you ate a salad for lunch three times this week, instead of a roast beef sandwich? What if you washed one less load of clothes each week? These changes contribute toward conserving Earth’s resources without adversely affecting you.
The Three Rs
Remember those three Rs we learned back in the 1980s, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? Well, that slogan has never been more relevant.
At home, it can be a little easier to reduce, reuse and recycle than at work, because we’re conditioned to put items in the recycling bin, save leftovers and utilize reusable plates and flatware. Are you doing all those things already? Great.
It’s always important to acknowledge the efforts you’re already putting in, and it’s always equally important to admit: I can do more. Because you can do more to love your mama.
How about your workspace? Do you have a recycling bin at work? If not, if you live in a town or city, give the waste management department a call and ask for a bin. If that’s not an option for you, consider bringing a small cardboard box to place beside the trash can and take it home to recycle, or to a recycling center, when it is full.
Being green at work is equally, if not more, important than your practice of being green at home, because of the volume of lives you’re influencing.
Let me explain.
Consider how many clients come through your office each week, and then consider if there are ways of being green you’re modeling for them. Here are some suggestions for being green at work:
- Replace paper towels in the bathroom with a hand towel. Wash that towel at day’s end with your sheets.
- Offer water to clients in glasses that can be reused, rather than in little plastic bottles of water.
- Unplug power cords when you leave work to save energy. Even when appliances are off, they leach energy from the power source.
- Bring your lunch to work. This eliminates the need to use fuel in your car as well as any packaging used to serve you your meal.
- If you do go out to lunch, walk there, wear gardening gloves and carry a garbage bag, and pick up any trash you see along the way. Keep in mind, as you’re picking up other people’s garbage, they didn’t purposefully act inconsiderately. It’s nothing personal. It’s merely that their level of consciousness is low.
People driving by who witness you picking up a cup or a straw wrapper will be influenced by you in a good way. Maybe they’ll start picking up garbage from the sidewalk and grass. Or maybe they’ll have a child in the car with them and point out to the child what an excellent example you are.
We’ve covered ways to reduce: eating less, choosing less, buying less, using less.
We’ve covered ways to reuse: towels, plates, glasses and flatware that are reusable.
We’ve covered recycling: It’s so easy to do these days, there’s really no excuse for your business or office building to be throwing away recyclables. Become the president of this project and feel good about yourself for making a positive change for the planet.
Love Your Mama and Pass on Packaging
Let’s go a little deeper. Your next challenge is to scrutinize the packaging on what you buy. If there’s a product you like but it’s overly packaged, don’t buy it. Call or write the company responsible for the over-packaging and tell them you’re displeased with their grotesque misuse of packaging materials, and that until they’ve updated their packaging, they’ve lost an important customer.
Here’s a story about that: My family and I subscribe to a meal-delivery service called Purple Carrot. Three vegan recipes and all ingredients needed to create the recipes are delivered to my family’s home every Wednesday. To keep the ingredients fresh during transit, the food is packaged in baggies inside an insulated bag filled with ice packs, all inside a box.
We’re thoroughly enjoying our meals from Purple Carrot, but the packaging seems excessive and wasteful. I reached out to the customer service and marketing representatives to ask if the company had plans to reduce the waste they were creating. I was assured that biodegradable packaging is in the works and can be expected to become their standard protocol in 2017.
It merely took a few customers to voice their concern about the amount of over-packaging in order for Purple Carrot to respond with improvements. (In the meantime, the company representative told me the ice packs can be cut open and drained, while the plastic is recyclable. The post-consumer plastic baggies make excellent lunch box containers that we rinse and reuse over and over again.)
Ditch the Beef
This brings me to the next challenge of digging more deeply to be green: eliminating some meat from your diet. As stated in my continuing education course, Ethical Implications of Vegetarianism, eliminating or reducing beef consumption is an act of environmentalism, because raising cattle for beef consumption produces excessive greenhouse gases.
If you’re ready to go full-vegan or vegetarian, give Purple Carrot meal service a try. If you feel like eating meat is an important part of your life, consider cutting back your beef consumption to one day per month or less, favoring chicken-, pork- or vegetable-based meals the remaining days of the month.
A third-and-final challenge to dig deeper toward being green: start using a compost bin. Compost Now is a service I use, and I highly recommend this simple solution to composting.
For $25 per month, Compost Now picks up your sealed bin of compost material one day per week and replaces it with another empty bin for you to use. When you’re ready to receive the soil you’ve earned by giving them your scraps, Compost Now delivers a bin or more full of beautiful, nutrient rich soil.
The company estimates that each customer diverts one-third of their trash to compost, saving 500 pounds of waste from going to the landfill each year. This is a great way to lessen your carbon footprint at work or home and love your mama.
See The Light
Thank you for taking care of your mama, and for taking the challenge to do even more than you’ve ever done for our life-giving planet. Let’s stay tuned in to each other and help raise consciousness all over the globe. Let’s keep influencing others to be aware of their impacts and contributions to Earth. From one greenie to another, the light in me sees the light in you.
About the Author
Sally Raspberry is a practitioner of ayurveda, with a background in therapeutic massage and yoga. She lives in Raleigh with her two daughters, Violet and Penelope, and their varietal zoo of pets. Raspberry is a member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and Yoga Alliance, and a provider of continuing education approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.