Monday, April 25, 2016

Earth Day and a Personal Earth Pledge

In these uncertain times, it is seductively easy to give in to despair and helplessness. Our environment is so compromised, the climate is undeniably changing, species continue to go extinct, rivers are polluted, toxic waste is spilling into the ocean as we speak...what can you or I do about it?

There are many things one can do. Most important of these is to live fully and authentically, and to enjoy each moment as it comes. For today the Sun is shining upon our battered, bruised, but still beautiful Earth. Today, we celebrate Her with meditation, healing, song, food, and community. Today, we celebrate Earth Day.

This is the third time that I've hosted an Earth Day gathering. Each year, we gather in a forested park under a picnic shelter. We pool our energies in meditation to heal the Earth. We share food, drink, and fellowship. Some folks take a walk on the lovely trails.

Today, it occurred to me that we need to start walking our talk when it comes to public gatherings. As Pagans and other Earth-centric people of faith, we claim to worship the Earth and all the powers of Nature. But yet, so many Pagan events, including my own, use disposable plates, cups, and utensils. Granted, it is possible to buy compostable plates now, even cutlery in some cases. But their manufacture is an environmental impact that is not necessary.

I'm also lucky to be a part of the Earthskills movement, which is about reconnecting people to the land by teaching and sharing traditional and primitive skills. There are a constellation of earthskills gatherings and rendezvous all over the country. The southeast region, in which I live, is particularly full of them. I have been blessed to learn and teach at these gatherings, and one thing I absolutely love about them is that they require each participant to bring their own "mess kit".

At the gatherings, mealtimes are mostly communal. A central kitchen usually cooks two meals a day, and folks break bread together. It's a great place to meet more people and hear their stories about the event. Every person brings their own plate, bowl, mug and utensils. We stand in line and get served our healthy, delicious food, which often comes from local farms.

After we eat, we wash our mess kit in the communal washing stations provided by the gathering. Generally this is a row of tubs on a table and a slops bucket. You scrape your food scraps into the bucket, then knock off big particles in a pre-wash tub of water. Next, we scrub them in a tub of hot soapy water. Then rinse in a tub of cold plain water. Finally, we sanitize with a dip in a tub of bleach and water.

Stainless steel cup, water bottle, and utensils with a bandana.
Voila! It's a win-win situation all around. Event organizers have lower costs and less work to do. Participants get to use their favorite things, which at earthskills gatherings may include handmade gourd, clay, or wood bowls and mugs, or even hand-carved spoons and forks! Someone always has a garden or animals that eat the scraps. And the Earth wins biggest of all - a zero food waste gathering is the best option for Her.

Which leads me to my personal Earth Pledge for the year- I pledge to carry my own utensils and napkin everywhere I go. Whenever possible, I'll also bring my own plate and bowl. For years, I have already been carrying my water bottle with me.

So yeah, now I'm that hippie. I don't want your plastic bags. I don't want your plastic cutlery. No, thank you!

This entertains me. I've always been fairly "crunchy", as they say. I mean, what chance did I have to be otherwise? I thought wheat kernels were chewing gum when I was a child! (For readers new to this blog, I grew up on a small homestead that was largely self-sustaining)

I suppose this is what happens when one grows up. Core values become expressed in our actions. And that's a very good thing, for us and for the Earth.

Happy Earth Day!