Friday, March 2, 2012

Environmentalism and Me



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:

en·vi·ron·men·tal·ism
noun
\-ˌvī-rə(n)-ˈmen-tə-ˌli-zəm, -ˌvī(-ə)r(n)-\
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.

21 comments:

  1. I think you hit the nail on the head, Dani about being a pagan and loving Earth Mother's environment. The word pagan I believe means one who worships in the country and you have dedicated you life to walk gently upon the earth. Good for you. I love the word, "bajingo" ha! And also use a moontime cup. In fact the blood is wonderful for flowers. I know so many people who would label you and I too out there for belief, but screw em. We're both on the path of being a true pagan and creating a different kind of magick.

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    1. It's funny, I picked up the word 'bajingo' from my kid sister (she's 19, so not REALLY a kid) who refuses to say the big scary 'V-word'. Now I use it all the time. ;)

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  2. Living green is in and of itself Pagan. Honoring the Earth by treating her with love and respect is in and of itself Spiritual. I love that you are so green and get it, I mean really get it. I know in the beginning of going green it can all seem overwhelming, but I always say do one thing at a time and after a month or so you'll look back and wonder why you didn't make those changes sooner.

    You are a fucking rockstar and I wish more Pagans had such a loving relationship with the Mother who we came from.

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  3. I'm with you with the cleaning and the makeup. I've been working hard to clean out the garbage in my life as best as I can. I haven't gone the no shampoo route yet, but I'm contemplating it. I clean everything with water, vinegar, lemon extract or tea tree oil (depending on the mood I'm in when I make it). I'm a diva cup user, compostable garbage bag lady, and I often shower with buckets so that I can use the wasted water to flush the toilet, etc, etc, etc. Oh the things that I don't normally share on the blog though I'm really tempted to get into it some days! I think I might scare people away though. Maybe I should though...

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    1. I say if you writing about your green habits scares people away, good riddance. ;) I'd love to read more about the things you do!

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  4. Wow - this is fantastic! You are HARD CORE!! :)

    When we lived in the city it was so easy to find organic everything, free range meat, etc. Now, believe it or not, living in a more rural area it's not easy - mostly because the people here do not have the income level as city folks so the stores don't stock it, and as you know, just because meat/veg comes from a local farm doesn't mean it's organic. We are still trying to find it, though - and we can't afford anything over priced.

    The coconut oil is a great idea!

    A window washer told me that the secret recipe was water and a tiny drop of dishwashing liquid, and a squeegee. I tried it and it was amazing.

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  5. Thanks for sharing the cleaning tips! Also, coconut oil is a great idea!

    I can't bring myself to go fully without my cosmetic products, but at least I'm taking care to buy them from companies that don't use animal testing and sell the products with as little wrapping as possible.

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    1. Any step in the right direction is a good one. :)

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  6. Immensely informative post! great ideas for cleaning. I use lemons a lot, as well as vinegar. Lemons are my go-to choice for cleansing negative energies, too. I'm not too sure about the no-shampoo route, but I certainly admire your efforts. Every little thing we do with the environment in mind counts. Wish more people would realize that.

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  7. "Nature is my Divinity" I couldn't say it better than that, so I'll just repeat it.

    On the green side of things, I can go without shampoo, but this Caribbean curls would go insane without conditioner. I let them flow wild when my hair was short, but things would get lost in it if I were to do it now.

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  8. Great post! I have used much of what you have written about for many, many years - long before it was the "in thing". Didn't know about the shampoo alternative though...will have to give it a try. :0)
    Use the rind of citrus fruit to freshen a garbage disposal and hydrogen peroxide is a good alternative to bleach in the laundry.

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  9. Yay for new ideas for cleaning! =D

    As for the shampoo alternative... I'm almost out of shampoo & I'm gonna give it a try! I shall let you know how this turns out. ^-^

    And I may be brave enough to give the deodorant replacement a try as well...

    XOXO

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  10. Thanks for sharing! I have been trying to green our flat as well - using lemon and baking soda to clean most stuff, for example - but I am still looking for a really good source with tricks that actually work (instead of reading something in a half sentence somewhere in a forum and having to try and see whether I understood it correctly). Any suggestions?

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    1. I've found recipes and tricks over the years on various blogs. Here are some of the ones I have bookmarked:

      http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/ <--- this one is one of my favorite blogs for DIY around the house sort of stuff. If you scroll down you'll see a list of topics on the right hand side.

      http://asonomagarden.wordpress.com/ <--- this one is not only just a lovely blog, but has a bunch of great recipes for cleaning, cooking and beauty and health products.

      http://www.younghouselove.com/2009/10/clean-up-your-act-all-natural-homemade-cleaners/ <--- this one is a list of recipes and things you can use to green your home cleaning.

      Hope those help! :)

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  11. I came back on here this morning to get the exact recipe for the deodorant but it's not listed : ( Care to share?

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    1. Hey lady. I use 2 parts corn starch to two parts baking soda in a small glass jar. Just put them together, shake it up and then swipe on with a big old makeup brush. I initially used more baking soda which worked better as an anti-perspirant, but irritated my skin which is super sensitive.

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  12. ~good mroning my dear friend...sorry i was over here yesyerday and then had to leave prior to commenting as a dentist appoinment was calling...

    don't you just love coconut oil...i use it on and in everything...i am ever so sensitive and it has become my moisturizer...it really absorbs into the skin perfectly...not greasy at all and hair...magic if i do say so myself...i too have changed many many ways over the last few years...i think spirituality our love of mama earth and being green go hand in hand...love this post my dear friend...wishing you and yours a wonderful weekend ahead...much love light and blessings~

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  13. Boo! I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack. You've got me so inspired girl! I used to make my own shampoo (in liquid form) with herbs....but buying herbs (even in bulk) costs a lot of damn money. Anywho, I've been reading all morning about the baking soda and vinegar method and it is getting rave reviews. However, it does say that the baking soda is GREAT for hair that tends to be oily. My hair is dry as a desert, bushy and curly curly curly. I'm wondering if just using the vinegar method (3 tbsp apple cider vinegar in 2 cups hot water) alone might do the trick. I also need to put something on my ends every day or else bad bad things will happen so today I took 2 drops of the olive oil/peppermint oil deep treatment I made and just added to my ends (after using my Avalon Organics shampoo). I'm loving it. I'm going to make a separate every day ends only leave in with coconut oil (which I believe is a little "lighter" than olive??) instead after I go food shopping tomorrow.

    Anywho, I appreciate any info you have about the whole vinegar/water shampoo deal-e-o

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  14. Oh Danni! What a fabulous post. I have been a bit down lately feeling the stress of our fast paces culture, like I have succumbed to the walk of the sleeper, a bit detached form the earth and the All, and I think you have helped me on the road to discovery of why.

    I used to do all you have mentioned, except the shampoo and deodorant but only because I'd never found any recipes or suggestions. In the past few years I have gotten so busy, stressed and then diagnosed. Somehow, though be it gradual, I have strayed away from my natural green path in many ways and truly did not realize it until now. I still do many green things but the daily connection, the conscious thought that mingles our mind with spirit has been neglected in lieu of work, illness, stress, responsibility, etc., etc. I am off to ponder this. Thank you for the eye opener, sweetie.

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  15. I'm right with you, and have been passionate about protecting the environment for as long as I can remember. I've been using baking soda, vinegar, peroxide and kosher salt as my household cleaners for the better part of the last 20 years. My family never thought about it much, and to this day my mother and sister do not recycle (!!!), and my mom lives a half mile from a recyclying transfer station! (Her excuse, she's just too busy, which equals she just doesn't give a damn.) For me, being aware of how my actions affect Mother Earth is a huge part of my spiritual expression, and that includes everything in which I invest my time and money. I am careful about the products I buy - I mean, how good can the energy be from consuming a chicken raised in a huge factory farm that has never been able to live naturally? Or by consuming chocolate made from cocoa grown and harvested by slave labor? How healthy is the environment in a house or building which has been 'cleaned' by toxic chemicals?

    I'm really interested in your choice of deoderent, but wonder how well it works as an antipersperant? I have been unable to solve that problem. I don't mind a little sweat, but it tends to be a little more than that for me ... any ideas would be appreciated!

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  16. Danni....you ROCK! I don't do near as much as I want to....this was such an eye opener....not that it's anything new to me....because there are many things that I've been wanting or meaning to change....and just haven't done it. Like the hair stuff.....I've been wanting to try that for a while now....the cleaning stuff is something I NEED to do....I do recycle though....but that is no where near what I want to be doing. I have a lot of work to do...thank you for the reminder!

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