plastic is not fantastic

In my day job, I spend a good amount of my time thinking about ways to educate 17-20 years about sustainability issues, which has triggered a profound level of self-reflection regarding my lifestyle habits.

I’ve always been concerned about the environment, but in a “convenient for me” kind of way. I recycle. I buy a lot of organic. I believe in fair trade and support local agriculture when I can. I’m a vegetarian of 26 years.  I try to buy eco products. I do more than most.

But honestly, if you look more closely at my consumerism, there are flaws in the rhetoric I espouse. I consume too much. I don’t think about the fabrics I buy and buy new more than second hand.  I’m a lazy environmentalist. It’s true. And that’s “ok” as I know I’ve done more than most and do work to encourage others to rethink their environmental footprint. It’s not perfect but I’m trying. And the more I learn, the more I think about how to manifest a more mindful sustainability in my day to day life.

I started off 2018 with a minimalistic purge. I emptied cupboards and closets and dug deep to get rid of a lot of the excess in my life. While I got rid of a lot, I’d be lying if I said this work was anywhere near done. I still have a lot of things to sort and purge. A shameful amount of things really.

How did we get to this point of excess? As individuals and as a society? Even after my decluttering process, my house is full of so much stuff. I literally wanted to cry when I realized how much money and effort I’d put into this ownership of stuff. How much of my happiness had been consumed by consumerism. It made me think a lot about the emotional nature of consumerism and what society is teaching us about possession.

And now, prepping my college students for a campus wide plastic straw ban and education about the problems with single use plastic, I am learning so much more about plastic than I ever expected.

Shit people, I am feeling that same dismay over how much our society has become dependent on plastic and how very harmful this product is to our ecosystems. From olive oil bottles to shampoo, everything we own seems to be sold in plastic containers. And recycling it really doesn’t solve the problem. From clothing to kids toys, we are killing ourselves, and not even slowly.

My partner and I have been talking a lot about how we can start reducing our dependence on plastic in small consistent ways. What we can do while we shop, replacing our tupperware when they break with glass, etc. We’re looking at small, incremental steps but I won’t lie, I think we both feel totally overwhelmed by it given how EVERYTHING is wrapped in plastic.

And let’s not even get started with how we’re going to convince our family to not feed into the plastic consumerism when it comes to gifts for our son! Trying to encourage family to buy experiences instead of gifts has already proven to be an epic fail in our family (don’t even get me started on the rage this stirs up in me with regard to family dynamics – I know you can’t convince others to share your beliefs but respect for your beliefs should be a given and yet it’s not. There is so much anger to unpack in that statement, it’s best left at that!)

But thankfully we’re both committed to trying to do more. It won’t all happen today, or likely even this year, but that’s ok. Small steps will help. And as we learn more, we’ll be able to do better.

 

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superhero bedroom for the kidlet

It’s not quite finished, but we’re almost there so here are the sneak peaks of the work in progress: LGC room 3LGC room1

He’s very much into superheroes and we wanted a room that would last him from 5 to pre-teen age (if not longer). The desk is from Ikea and is height adjustable so it’ll grow with him. The decor grown up enough that it should stand the test of time for a bit. We did it all yesterday while he was away at his grandparents as his 5th birthday present.

It’ll gut me a little bit if he doesn’t like it, given how much time and money went into it. I tried to repurpose as much as possible from his baby/toddler room: same bed, bookshelf and mini shelves. New desk and chair and peg board accessories (sturdier for his rough and tumble ways).  Bought him a new duvet cover for his old comforter and spray painted his old pegboard from his diaper change table way back when.

The posters of the superheros need to be framed still and there are are 3 puzzles to frame and put above his costumes, but for now the largest part is done. Hopefully he’ll like it!

11: to start again, with experience

The morning breeze is wafting through the patio door, the birds singing and the kidlet is busy with play doh as I write. My cup of coffee is nearby and I can hear the wind rustling through the leaves and the tall grass in the field behind me. These are the moments that nourish my soul. The quiet times of calm and slowness that allow me to just be.

 

buddha
play doh buddha

I know it won’t last long. The attention span of my 5 year won’t let it. And that’s ok. It’s part of the journey. Even now, he’s inserting himself into the conversation, showing me the canon ball of mixed up play doh. At one time, I’d have cringed over the fact that all his play doh becomes one colour in the end. But now, I’m just watching to make sure it doesn’t get stuck into the jar next to him.

 

Some days, I’ll admit, I fight hard against the ways that motherhood has changed my life. I resist the intrusions and the chaos, which only ultimately make them worse because I become tied up in knots over it all. I’d like to tell you I’m one of those earth mamas, happy in her motherhood, at one with her relaxed nurturing self. But it would be a lie. And I suspect, a lie for many mothers, even the ones who seem like the perfect zen mamas.

The thing is, somewhere along the way, between marriage, work, age, and motherhood, I have started to feel a loss of self. Like I’ve lost my voice (or maybe I never really fully had it). I’m 41, which probably makes this conversation a little cliché, but perhaps this is the perfect age to realize that I’m tired of the old self-narratives and insecurities I hold about myself.

Going forward into my 40s, I would like to let go of the baggage. I constantly hear things like “my 30s were the best because I didn’t have all the insecurities of my 20s” and “my 40s are when I stopped caring what others thought”.  I suppose on some level both have been true or are in the process of becoming true.

I feel like the next few years ahead of me are going to be about me becoming the me-est me I can be. More than ever, I feel called to do the work of the soul/self; to open my heart, hear my intuition, and carve out a life and habits that fulfill me. I have done all the busy work of society. Education, marriage, career, family. I have built a good life. One with highs and lows, frustrations and joy.

strength
Mary El tarot

 

And now it feels like it’s time to pull it all together and let go of the things that no longer serve and embrace/nurture the things that do. To trust that I have a voice and to slow down and be present enough to hear it. To give my voice space to grow and flourish again. To start again, but with experience.

For this lunar cycle, I’d like to invite in the tarot trump of Strength and the journey of opening my heart, trusting my soul, and re-learning my voice so that I can speak from my heart, be vulnerable and trust that my vulnerability will be held safely while I do the work that needs to be done. To wear my woo woo, along with my type A, on my sleeve for all to see and begin to feel that my voice isn’t stopped, silenced and compartmentalized into all the roles I have created in my life.

It seems fitting to begin here, in a Gemini new moon, to set the intention of merging all my separate threads of play doh into my very own canon ball of mush to create something new.