Everyone can turn a deeper shade of green

This blog is dedicated to all those looking to deepen their green--whether you are making a commitment to a greener lifestyle and need help taking the first steps or whether you're already a practicing tree hugger who is looking for practical advice on what steps to take next. Over the years, I've heard all the good intentions and all the excuses. I've also seen my fellow environmentalists sabotage the good intentions of others. I am making a commitment to you, dear reader, wherever you fall on the spectrum, to help you take the next steps to fulfilling your commitment to the earth, to your health, and to your well-being. Stay tuned for articles and interviews.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Resolution to practice


Generally speaking, I’m not a resolution maker.  And by now, some of you have probably given up on the resolutions you made, but I assure you that all is not lost!  I am a yogi—I’ve been practicing various forms of yoga since 1998 and now I teach yoga—and one of the statements you might hear from any random yoga teacher, plucked out of the studio is to take your practice “off the mat and into the world.”  You might also hear a yoga teacher say, “it’s all practice.”  If you are committing to living a greener lifestyle, you will soon find the truth in these statements. 

So what does yoga have to do with New Year’s resolutions?  The way I see it, yoga is about more than just exercise.  It’s about being in touch with your body, slowing down your mind, and being more compassionate in your world.  New Year’s resolutions are generally about eliminating undesirable habits or creating positive, healthy habits. Sadly, framing these behavioral changes as resolutions often sets us up for failure because we demand the perfect manifestation of our resolution to take hold on January 1. It’s all about practice. Practice, practice, practice and when you’ve mastered it, whatever it is, it will still be all about practice.

Even if you’re not a yogi, that’s wisdom worth sitting with for a time as you craft your resolutions, set your intentions, or start on a fresh path with the New Year. I’m forgetting which Buddhist scholar said this, but s/he rejoices every morning upon waking because there are 24 fresh hours to experience every day. So, if you are a resolution making type person, keep in mind that every day is a chance to start over, an opportunity to re-commit to your resolution.  My yoga teacher recently posted on the topic of resolutions and it may be helpful as you work towards making yours stick.

Repurpose or "upcycle" those old t-shirts
For all of you, including those of you who are like me—the non-resolution types, I challenge you to commit to going green this year by committing to a set of questions, rather than a series of solutions.  Ask yourself if what you are doing or buying really fulfills a need? Is there something at home that would fulfill that need already? Is there another option that would fulfill the same need with less waste (driving, packaging, etc.)? What are the long term effects of this choice? Will it bring you health, stronger relationships, better quality of life, or will it bring you debt, stress, or other negative side effects? If you’re buying a product, think through what the afterlife of the product is—can it be shared, donated, recycled, repurposed, or in some other way kept out of the waste stream? If you can commit to asking these questions consistently, you may find yourself making healthier, more joyful, and greener choices in several aspects of your life.  Likewise, if you find yourself in the grocery store without any of your 501 cloth bags, but you find a way to repurpose that paper bag you picked up at the check out, you’ll be okay with not living up to your resolution.   This is my resolution/commitment for the year. Feel free to borrow it for yours.