I would like to thank you in advance for taking the time to read this.
Just over a week ago, I arrived back from teaching my 3rd yoga retreat on the magical island of La Gomera with the loveliest group of 21 women. In fact this is only my second retreat in 13 years of teaching retreats that I have taught an all female group. The rapport between this special group was so deep and meaningful on every level, each day, we all shared many personal and supportive stories and conversations as well as much light and laughter. With the infusion of twice daily yoga, plenty of good clean fun, relaxation and healthy vegetarian food, this was undoubtedly a very successful yoga holiday, by the last day, many friendship bonds had been formed and there was a great deal of love all round. It was also inspiring to us in a very different way – please read on……
The Finca Argayall is a very unique retreat venue and in the language of the native people of the Canary Islands the name means “place of light”. Every time I teach here, I absorb such a peaceful energy and always come home feeling very renewed and recharged. Community activities also include many other awareness practices such as meditations, satsang, dancing, reiki, holistic massage, kundalini and more. The Finca forms a particular vision, which is a desire for community life and ‘the crew’ whom live and work here are contributing their own personal values towards sustaining our planet in this beautiful setting. The qualities as well as ethics that are respected are team work, support, authenticity, integrity and creativity. Visitors, consequently often discover a sense of personal transformation and freedom which impacts their lives during and after the time they spend here.
In the middle of our stay, my group were invited to watch a film about the symposium of ‘The Pachamama Alliance’ The film was very graphic and made a real impact on those of us that watched it, it basically encouraged us look squarely at the state of our planet as it is today—where we are and how we got here which was in my mind shocking. The film then explored what roles we can play in enabling the world to become more environmentally sustainable. It talked about how today’s ‘environmental wreckage’ can only be addressed through consciousness and personal awakening which is required individually by every single one of us. If we can all own that truth and believe that we can help our planet in our own small way, it is absolutely possible that we can inspire transformation on a completely global scale. The documentary asks “Where are we?“, “How did we get there?“ and “What is possible now?“. It shows a way out of the collective dream of the ‘modern day world’, rooted in consumption and competition, to one of sustainability, justice and fulfillment for all.
Consuming more than we need creates a demand that the planet can’t cope with. Natural resources are being gobbled up faster than the Earth can replenish them. It’s also struggling to cope with the resulting waste and emissions. We take too much stuff from nature and then we make it into stuff we use – from chemicals to plastics to fertiliser to smart phones to foods – and then dispose of it carelessly into the atmosphere, the oceans and the land.
What most of us do not realise is that we are ALL responsible and that we ALL actually have a very limited time to turn things around. We have reached a stage where the amount of resources needed to sustain this population exceeds what is available on this earth!
Did you know:
- Fresh water reserves, fish stocks and forests are shrinking, many many species are under threat of extinction and fertile land is being destroyed.
- The primary driver of the human-induced mass extinction of animals is not just some people hunting a particular lifeform to extinction. In fact, it’s mainly just two things; systematic destruction of land habitat – forests, grasslands, wetlands, peatlands, mangroves – in our endless effort to capture wild places for human use (whether it be residential, commercial, mining, farming or military)
- We have destroyed waterways and ocean habitat by dumping radioactive contaminants, carbon dioxide, a multitude of poisons and chemical pollutants and plastic.
- By over fishing in our seas, rivers and lakes, this has led to what scientists call eutrophication, or excessive plant growth. The fewer fish we have, the more plants that grow – the more plants that grow, the fewer fish we have – trapping us in a vicious cycle that gives us fewer fish to eat and upsets the delicate balance of the eco system our planet needs to survive and thrive.
- That 80% of china’s water reservoirs are contaminated, and the rest of the world continues to over consume and contaminate its water supplies.
- The more energy (power) we use, the higher the earth’s temperature, the carbon dioxide spewed by coal and other fossil fuels is warming the planet. This has consequently decreased the sea’s oxygen levels and caused the death of the marine life crucial to the delicate balance of the ecosystem our planet needs to survive and thrive.
- Most experts predict we will exhaust accessible oil reserves within 50 years!
- Natural gas reserves could plug some of the gap from oil, but reserves of that – some of which are in Russia, the Middle East will not last into the 22nd century either. We currently use it for around one-third of world electricity generation.
- By the end of the century, there will have been at least a 4°C rise in temperature, climate change and its results in extreme weather conditions such as avalanches, wild fires, droughts, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, sinkholes, tsunami and erupting volcanoes
- Food is also one of the key factors in an environmental crisis that threatens the basis of life on earth
- Agriculture has changed more in the past two generations than it did in the previous 12,000 years, this is because of the transformation of our food system from sustainably based, locally focused production, to a fossil-fuel addicted, industrialized supermarket system
- We are eating more meat than we can sustainably produce – most particularly beef, because farming cows requires lots of land and water, erodes and depletes soil, leads to deforestation, methane is emitted which is a greenhouse gas and has a 23 times higher negative impact on climate than carbon dioxide (CO2).
- The United Nations predicts that by 2050 the world’s population will reach a whopping 9 billion – which means we’ll all be competing for increasingly scarce resources, it will be slower and more difficult to mobilise people to change, there’ll be much further environmental pollution.
- Developed countries including the USA, the UK and Europe emit the most greenhouse gasses, yet it is the poorest countries that suffer the most from environmental fallout. 5 billion people in the world still live below the poverty line, 3 billion are living with no access to basic water or energy, and hunger and malnourishment persist for many. Meanwhile, income inequality is rising, leading to heightened tension and social conflict.
- Most of our energy comes from coal and natural gas, which cause harmful emissions and further negative climate change. Energy needs are likely to remain un-met for hundreds of millions of households ongoing, unless we urgently find more sustainable sources of energy for all.
- Most of the plastic waste in the UK doesn’t actually end up in our oceans, but a lot is disposed of in our environment – burned or buried in landfill sites. People are increasingly worried about this and its impact on nature, and they’re right to be. 79% of the plastic waste ever created is still in our environment. We are leaving a legacy of plastic waste on our planet that will take years to put right.
If we continue to produce, consume and power our lives the way we do right now, forests, oceans and weather systems will be irreversibly damaged.
As you are reading this, you might say “How I can I help, this has nothing to do with me?” But the great news is, that we can all help in our own small individual way – because we are all consumers! Most of us are living in a culture of excess, meaning we consume more than we need – myself included – guilty as charged!
We may work hard and pay our taxes but did you know that most of us (especially in the west) probably consume more than our fair share of world resources which means that the majority of us are all participants in the system of exploitation and global warming. We all expect and demand consumer products, consumer fuels and consumer food, etc, all of which are produced by using land and water habitats, and the resources derived from them.
All we have to ask ourselves each time we are about to buy something or use something that involves energy is, “Do I really need this?”
The more we can share an awareness of the importance of the environment, the more we can do together to conserve it. Here in the West it is so easy to turn a blind eye and pretend that this is not happening, but the smallest of things can make the biggest of differences. The the most powerful way you can participate in saving our planet is simply to reduce your own personal consumption while increasing your self-reliance.
- Recycle whatever you can from food, to clothes, to bottles to paper, cardboard and more.
- Food waste, we throw away a third of the food we buy in the UK. Think of all the resources that go into growing and producing that food. The time, energy, packaging, transport and yet we are happy to throw it away. Measure out portions, freeze leftovers, use common sense with sell by dates and only buy what you need.
- Reduce your consumption of food that is derived from animals since animal agriculture is causing a considerable strain on the environment, I’m not saying that we must all become vegans just cut down.
- See if you can source your food locally when possible, or better still, try to grow your own food, so energy is not wasted on transportation.
- Try to reduce the energy that you use in your home, from central heating to turning your pc off at night, to not leaving lights on, etc, ask yourself – “what do I need on”?
- Try not to buy too much plastic.
- Think about your fuel consumption for your car, only take necessary journeys and where possible walk or cycle.
- Purchase durables made in an eco-friendly manner. Often the packaging of such products will feature a seal indicating they are eco-friendly
- Stop caring about material things and buy less stuff.
- Appreciate what you have
- Educate your children as much as possible, as they are the ones who will live in the world of the future.
- Try not to overuse or waste water
The list could go on and on but you get it, just little things can help if we all consciously try in our own way.
In a world where advertising is constantly shouting at us to buy more, it’s not at all easy to get away from consumer lifestyle. I absolutely don’t have a step-by-step instruction manual for creating a sustainable world, but I do think that we should try to share awareness of this situation. The key words here are to simply ‘CONSUME LESS’.
We only have one Earth and are utterly dependent on it for our survival and well-being, to ensure that nature, the species we love so much and we ourselves are able to live in harmony on this planet, please do whatever you can in reducing your consumption.
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Let’s care about our future generations and save our planet.
Love B xx