19-04-2017

Our Efforts This Earth Week
by Vanessa

Lost amidst the busyness of life it is easy to forget and ignore the land on which we live and the sustenance she offers us.It is simple to get our fill and to want more, as this is how we are programmed. We rarely stop to consider for example where our rubbish goes once we have thrown it out, especially with the craze of decluttering. I often wonder whether the need to offload unnecessary items just allows space for further purchasing or is it a real attempt to live more frugally? As an ecofeminist, I look around me and it seems that many of us turn a blind eye until disaster strikes and then we are forced to wake up.

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"Much of our ignorance about ecological degradation is the result of not seeing, not smelling, not tasting, not hearing, and not feeling the deeper impacts of environmental suffering. We are too busy or perhaps too afraid to pay attention to what is going on. It is easy to see suffering when it has gone to extreme levels – it is hard not to notice a burning river. But we need to be able to see the causes of these environmental disasters, to see the suffering developing." (Kaza)
 
In the past, it was second nature to not litter and to turn off lights, but green mindfulness was not something I practiced. The catalyst that had me sit up and take stock however was a comment from a book that I had been reading that had suggested I was a freeloader. I bristled because there was truth in it, and so I began to clean up my act. I had to give a better example to my children. My shortsighted actions had to stop. But, how?
           
First came composting, followed by shifting to eco friendly cleaning products and then devising innovative ways to catch water from the air conditioning and the occasional rainfall to water my garden. I stopped using supermarket plastic bags and oftentimes you could see me struggling with my groceries piled in my arms when I forgot my jute bags, which was a common occurrence at the beginning.

I tried to grow my own vegetables, but Yoko a friendly visiting chicken thought it was fair to lay me an egg in return for all my seedlings. Now I have surrendered to my feathered friend and got her some pals, Coco and Daphne the Duck. It is quite a quirky affair entering through my villa gates these days.

Next I took a look at me, and what I use on my skin. What a wake up call that was. Research suggests that the chemicals we put on our skin may be worse for us than the ones we ingest, as our saliva and stomach acids at least help to break down the chemicals. On our skin the chemicals are absorbed and then accumulate, lacking sufficient enzymes to protect us from exposure.  This finding led me to question my sanitary wear. Oh my Goodness…well no goodness at all. The skin in and around our vulva is the most sensitive and permeable, and yet we are given disposable pads and tampons to use that are filled with petrochemicals, dioxin from the pad whitener and synthetic fibers…and let us not forget the plastic backing on pads, the glue and the blue gel. Did you know each conventional pad carries the equivalent of 4 plastic bags? Chemicals in plastics such as BPA and BPS have been linked to a multitude of nasty life threatening diseases and organ damage. Furthermore, the plastics used in disposable pads can reduce airflow that promotes bacterial growth, causing infections and irritation.
 
And then of course I read about how long these things we wear for 3-4 hours and then toss in the trash take to biodegrade. They take between 500-800 years! And what is more horrific is that a woman uses approximately 17,000 pads/tampons in her lifetime. There must be landfills out there filled to the brim with our soiled pads, not a favorable thought.
 
We all live on this planet and breathe her air and eat her food, and this Earth Week I pray that we find ways for us all to live sustainably together to keep our beautiful Mother Earth thriving. I am not suggesting that we all go out and adopt chickens, but I hope this week we are reminded to give a thought to how each of us can make a difference.

Shifting to a cloth pad could be a simple yet hugely worthwhile and caring option for us and the Planet. We would be saying NO to an industry whose powerhouse is masculine and seems to be unaware of women’s real needs. We would be saying YES to building a new shame free relationship with our blood and the wonders of our wombs and to reestablishing our connection with Mother Earth.

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