As a dirt worshipping, tree hugger who finds the divine in the shadowed forests, windy mountains and icy waters of our Momma Earth, I strive to protect, help and be a good steward to her. For as long as I've been a pagan, I've also been an environmentalist (aka: my entire life). Here's how Merriam-Webster defines Environmentalism:
Definition of ENVIRONMENTALISM
1 : a theory that views environment rather than heredity as the important factor in the development and especially the cultural and intellectual development of an individual or group
2: advocacy of the preservation, restoration, or improvement of the natural environment; especially : the movement to control pollution
I was raised by parents who taught me to respect Nature and her gifts and not to take them for granted. We always recycled, reused what we could and fixed the things that broke rather than buying new. My childhood was not only spent climbing trees and exploring mucky swamps, but also spent learning about different plants and animals and picking up litter on the side of the road. We were those people, you know the ones, who'd take their daily walk and clean up that stretch of road as they went. As I grew up, I joined my school's environmental club and continued to study the Earth and the issues facing her while continuing to preach the mantra of the three R's (reduce, reuse, recycle) to anyone that would listen.
In the past few years, as I've grown up and out of my parents house I've greened my life even further in an effort to both be healthier myself and to keep my share of nasty chemicals out of the Earth. Food wise, if I can't grow it organically myself due to space constraints or lack of green thumb skills I try to buy it locally and organically grown. I'm looking into joining a CSA in our community that does meat and dairy as well as veggies and eggs but so far they're a bit out of my price range. Failing that, I go to my local Whole Foods or Earth Fare and get it. We're striving hard to keep artificial ingredients and GMO out of our diets so we make the vast majority of our meals here at home, which I will admit doesn't always happen because sometimes I'm so beat after work I just want a damn pizza. But we're getting there.
My house is cleaned top to bottom with vinegar, baking soda and lemons in different ratios that I use for various purposes. Here are some of the things I use for cleaning:
*For streak free windows: Spritz straight white vinegar onto your windows and wipe dry with newspaper from the recycle pile. It can still be recycled and works a hundred and one times better than towels of any sort.
*For bathroom grout and caulking around tubs: Mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide in a bowl to form a paste. Use a small brush (like an old toothbrush) or your finger and slap the stuff onto any funky grout or caulk and let sit about 5 minutes. Then, scrub it; with a scrub brush or scrubby sponge until it's clean. Rinse with water and ta-da! Mildew free tub with no chemical induced headache! As a bonus, you can wash your whole shower this way and you get a workout at the same time.
*For counter tops: Mix vinegar and water in equal parts in a spray bottle, add the juice of one lemon and shake. Spray counter tops and wipe with a clean cloth towel. I also use this in a larger batch to mop my floors.
Having never been one for styling products, streamlining and greening my 'beauty routine' was probably the easiest thing I've accomplished on my way to a more environmentally friendly life. It's true confession time, so feel free to hold your noses and back away slowly: it's been over a year since I used shampoo or conditioner. I used the last of my bottles at the end of 2010 and haven't bought any since, instead I've been using the baking soda and apple cider vinegar method. It took some time to get the formulas right for my hair type (1 tbsp baking soda is way too much per cup of water for my hair) but aside from that, it's been a fantastic experience - my hair has been way more awesome since I started this. It isn't greasy in a day nor is it alarmingly brittle at the ends anymore; instead it just feels healthy. When I want to deep condition it now, I slather some coconut oil on it and let it sit overnight rinsing it out in the morning.
And, just in case the shampoo thing didn't send you running for the hills, I don't buy deodorant anymore either. I swipe a mixture or baking soda and corn starch on every morning with a makeup brush and it works great!
Now some folks may wonder how this has anything to do with my pagan path or why the hell I bother with this stuff. Here's the deal: I take a lot of pride in greening my life, simplifying it and eliminating a lot of the 'stuff' people get so hung up on. There are things that I didn't bullet point above that I do - like use cloth napkins and handkerchiefs, how there have been no paper towels at all in my house in over a year and how I use a moon cup because I'm cool with my bajingo - because I could spend a week writing all about it. Despite what a lot of folks may think, doing things this way really isn't inconvenient for me and I get the benefit of knowing that I'm not contributing to the hundreds of thousands of gallons of chemicals that poison our soil, our drinking water, our fish and our planet each year. All of these simple things when added up, amount to something much bigger and if more people didn't take the stance of 'what difference do these small things make anyway?' our world would be a lot cleaner.
As for how it relates to my pagan path? Nature is my Divinity. It is where my holy and sacred spaces exist, where I can dig deep inside of myself, where I find the spirits and the gods. The lord and lady of the wild, the green and growing, the horned, furred and wild, the Green Man and Woman are those whom I revere above all other deity and they are found out there, in Nature. And so I strive to learn and to grow under their watchful gazes without repaying them in chemicals and garbage.