Everywhere you look these days, one is confronted by the colour green. The metaphoric green, that is; the flag waving colour of environmentalists everywhere. Not everyone, however, is on the same page. I was talking with an acquaintance the other day telling her that "so and so” had redone her whole house ‘green.’ "Oh,” she replied, "I don’t think I’d like that. You would think she’d get sick of one colour!” Yes, well, green is still a colour in some people’s eyes. I took into account the numerous magazine issues that came out last year proclaiming their ‘greenness,’ and in light of this and wanting to keep current and up-to-date, I figured I should write at least one green article. So, here it is, and if you have to ask, it’s a moss green.
The 3Rs. One of the age-old maxims of the green revolution is the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Although the Blue Box has become synonymous with conscious living, the truth of the matter is that the recycling container should be the last thing on our minds. The first and foremost practice is to reduce, as the order of the 3Rs suggests. Reduce our consumption of anything, from electricity to plastics, and the world is a much happier place.
Ironically, the opposite is true in the land of personal development. Recycling should be our first priority. Take old defences, for example. You know, the blocks we put up in life to keep us supposedly safe and happy? Have you ever tried to ‘reduce’ your usage of them? They won’t have it! It’s like being downsized, laid off, or worse, fired. No, the best thing to do with defences is to recycle them. For example, take the classic defence that tells us we are ‘too old’ to play soccer, go on dates or get a degree. Why not make a deal with that defence? Have fun in exchange for that ‘old’ part changing its role from keeping you safe, to one that you contact when you need some ‘aged’ wisdom. Our defence recycling: change their purpose, and voila, a healthier way of being.
Don’t idle your engine. According to the Canadian Natural Resources website (http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca), "if every driver of a light-duty vehicle in Canada avoided idling for just five minutes a day, we would prevent more than 1 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year.” Imagine how we’d all breathe easier. The same goes for our brains: turn ‘em off! A friend of mine once told me some wisdom from her Tai Chi master. He suggested that if she only had ten minutes to meditate due to a busy schedule, to meditate twice as long. Stillness creates order out of chaos and manageable days out of crazy ones.
Use public transportation. The results are obvious for the environment, but go to http://www.bcsea.org/transport/ for some graphic images on the advantages of taking the bus. Imagine less road rage, traffic fatalities and pollution. In analogous terms, taking the bus – letting a professional drive you around – is a bit like allowing Self to take leadership over our sometimes disparate micro personalities. Our heads are filled with their voices thundering down the mind’s highway in Hummers or darting here and there in little Miatas. Sure, their only goal is to keep us safe whether that be through distraction or building walls of protection, but enough! Time to take a break! Let a professional (the Self) help you weave your way through the traffic jams of life.
Reduce water consumption. In Vancouver, each household produces 600 litres of waste water per day. Conventional toilets alone account for 1/3 of all household water waste. So, take five minute showers rather than baths; turn off the water while lathering your hands or brushing your teeth. And, when visiting the loo? Flush less. The rule of thumb is: if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down. How does this relate to personal growth? Well, I could talk about mindfulness or something similar but in reality, I just like the rhyme.
Compost. Composting is the act of returning organic matter into the soil, thereby turning a waste into a valuable resource and precluding the use of chemical fertilizers. Besides providing nutrient rich humus for plants, it reduces the volume of garbage sent to the landfill (by approximately one-third). Moreover, even though the organic waste in a garbage dump will eventually decompose, it does so anaerobically, producing methane, a potentially explosive gas. Composting also works well for our internal growth. Sit with your thoughts, reflections and experiences; explore your relationship to them. What do you feel about them? Do they serve you? If they don’t serve you, how do you want to do things differently? While you are doing that, check out the following website for composting information. http://www.compost.bc.ca/serv/how2/why_c.html
Finally, think small. The great anthropologist, Margaret Mead wrote: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” If you want change, start inside and you will be pleasantly surprised at the changes that will undoubtedly occur in your family, community and country.
Jo-Ann Svensson is an ARC Bodywork Therapist with private practices in Nanaimo and West Vancouver. (604) 619-3904 www.thearcinstitute.com