Zero Waste Life

 

Zero Waste Life

Let me start by saying I am nowhere near living a zero waste life.  I am actually embarrassed by the amount of trash we produce (both personally, and as a society), but I am doing my best to reduce the amount of waste by paying attention to the things the products I buy are packaged in, buying in bulk where possible, and reducing, reusing and recycling always.  I don’t know I’ll ever get to the point where Lauren Singer is — making all my own products — but just buying less is an awesome start.

According to Singer, the average American produces 4.4 lbs. of trash per day!  I think I can at least do better than that.  I think we all can.

So – whatever you can do to make your footprint less, then go for it!  You may not get to zero, but you’ll feel better across all spectrums.

Today is Day 26 of the #AtoZ blogapalooza.  Finito! We made it, baby.

pamlazos 4.30.19

Posted in conservation, consumer safety, eco, environmental conservation, environmental effects, evolution, food packaging, organic food waste, product packaging, Sustainability, sustainable eating, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, zero waste | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Youth-Led

Youth-led

More than ever, the world needs a deus ex machina, a word derived from Latin and used to describe the point in an ancient Greek tragedy where a God was dropped onto the stage by a machine, sent down to fix an otherwise unfixable problem and provide the audience with a happy ending.  The machine that did the dropping was called the deus ex machina, but it also came to represent divine intervention in solving the unsolvable problems that lowly mortals were unable to fix on their own.

Most days it feels as though we in the 21st century are in the middle of Greek tragedy with an untenable future and no real consensus on how to make it all work out.  How will it end?  Will the heroes be reduced to dust while the bad guys win the day?  Will mankind be able to pass this tale of How We Saved the Planet down to our grandchildren’s children?  And for Godsakes, where is our deus ex machina?

I believe that it’s not divine intervention, or aliens, or a prophet, but our children that are going to save us.  Children like Greta Thunberg, a 16-year old climate change activist who knows that we have been dragging our feet on dealing with the worst of our issues — carbon that is heating up the planet — and is not afraid to tell us what she knows:

Or the Parkland high school kids who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida to become gun safety activists, and in the process, inspired a slate of gun safety legislation across the county — 67 new gun laws in 26 states passed in 2018, an unprecedented amount of legislation all thanks to a few kids who simply wouldn’t give up.

Or what about my favorite candidate for president, the former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, who, at least for me, stands out in the crowded democratic field because of his clear-eyed look into the future with the realization that the present will need retooling if we are going to make it there in one piece.  Okay, he’s not a teen, but he’s young, still learning, and willing to evolve.  If elected, he’ll be the youngest president ever at 37.

I’m not saying you have to be young to know how to fix things — we all know that kids can totally screw things up just as easily as adults — but we need to think young, and look at problems in a new way if we’re ever going to fix the mess we’ve created.

To youth-led activism and the deus ex machina kind of changes their energy and enthusiasm will provide.

Today is Day 25 of the #AtoZ blog challenge.  I can see the finish line!

pamlazos 4.29.19

 

Posted in Greek tragedy, gun legislation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Xenophobia

XENOPHOBIA

xenophobia | ˌzenəˈfōbēə, ˌzēnəˈfōbēə |

noun:  intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries: the resurgence of racism and xenophobia. DERIVATIVES xenophobe | ˈzenəˌfōb, ˈzēnəˌfōb | noun (online dictionary definition)

xenophobia:  n. The desire to run like your hair is on fire or egg your neighbor’s car  because someone who looks, dresses, eats, or practices a different religion than you moved in down the street. (my definition)

[Sketch from Oxford University Museum of Modern History]

So why the sudden rise in white nationalism across the globe?  Apparently, the situation has been decades in the making and it’s not as easy to answer as we had hoped.  Princeton sociologist, Robert Wuthnow spend eight years asking this question, interviewing rural Americans across the country, and had this to say:

I think the concerns about moral decline often miss the mark. I think a lot of white Americans in these small towns are simply reacting against a country that is becoming more diverse — racially, religiously, and culturally. They just don’t [know] how to deal with it. And that’s why you’re seeing this spike in white nationalism.

Although Wuthnow didn’t have a hard and fast solution to the problem, he did offer a lot of insight.

Nor do I have a solution, but I will offer this observation. It has long been known in the scientific community that, in general, only the most culturally diverse species make it through eons of evolution.  By increasing diversity you make the species more resilient and stable.

Back in the 17th century on the island of Mauritius, east of Madagascar, there lived the famed, fanciful and now extinct dodo bird.  Over time, because of the abundance of food on the island, the dodo lost the need to fly so it stopped using its wings and evolution, being what is was, the dodo eventually lost the ability to fly.  When Dutch sailors appeared in the late 1600’s (first dodo mention was 1598), they began hunting the bird for food, their habitat was degraded and ultimately, invasive species moved in and the dodo was out (last known sighting was in 1662).  The bird fell into mythological status until the remains of some specimens were found and scientists were able to determine its actual existence.

I think its important to note a couple of things:  the dodo had all its needs met for food and shelter so it didn’t push itself to do things it used to know how to do like fly (important for us as a population growing older — keep doing stuff so you don’t lose your skills, people!), or develop any new skills.  When the Dutch sailors arrived with their invasive species, the dodo could not fight them off and also could not run away because the flying thing was but a memory (adversity can sometimes lead to diversity).

Sure, life had been good for a while in their isolation on an island in the Indian Ocean with all the food, water and sunshine they needed, but by failing to diversify and inject some new skills into their lives with a healthy cross-cultural exchange, the dodo was not prepared for the invaders arrival and, as a result, faded into the oblivion.

The (most basic) moral of the story?  Embrace other cultures or go the way of the dodo bird.

Today is Day 24 of the #AtoZ blog challenge.  Two more days and I’m eXstatic.

pamlazos 4.27.19

Posted in diversity, evolution, mythology, Uncategorized, Xenophobia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Be Like Water

Be Like Water

When I was born, I shared the water on this planet with just over 3 billion people.  Today, I’m sharing it with 7.7 billion and growing — at a rate of 85 million people per year — and it’s a safe bet that each and every one of those people are thirsty.

The average human can only last about three to four days without water.  Water provides all the systems of the body with the power it needs to hydrate, refuel, detox and thrive.  Somewhere between 60-70% of our bodies are made up of water. Several billion years ago, a few single-celled organism started focus groups, formed bonds, discussed logistics, and eventually crawled their way out of the primordial soup.  At one time, oceans covered the planet.  At one time, dinosaurs roamed the earth.  We’ve come a long way since then, but we’re still drinking the same water the dinosaurs did.  When scientist search for new planets to live on, they look for water first because without water, we’re toast.  

Bottled water is big business but it doesn’t necessarily benefit the commons.  Water companies blithely pull billions of gallons of water from underground aquifers — water that belongs to all of us — then put it in bottles and sell it back to us with no value added.  The product wasn’t altered or added to, just bottled, yet they sell it to us for upwards of $10/gal.   (As opposed to Guinness which has tremendous value added!)

Wait, what?  Doesn’t it come out of the tap for pennies on that dollar?  If you asked water what it wanted, I suspect it would want us all to reclaim the commons rather than let a few large companies make money off the rest of us on a substance that belongs to all of us.

The Kabbalah, a Jewish mystical/metaphysical interpretation of the Bible, teaches that water is the light of God made manifest on the physical plane.  If true, that means water has some serious mojo.  The ancient Kabbalists performed a water ceremony, called a mikvah, at a stream or spring as a way to purify the individual.  Kabbalists believed pure water — a physical mirror to the soul — could cure all ills, but that years of wars, pestilence, pesticides, and not being very nice to each other has dimmed water’s light and left it much less effectual.  

The Catholics pour water over a baby’s forehead while baptizing the infant in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a very powerful prayer that welcomes the child into the Catholic faith.  The night before he died, Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper, purifying them so they could carry on with that work after he was gone.  Many religions perform ritual washings and ablutions on the living and the dead to free them from both physical and spiritual uncleanliness.  You see the metaphysics at work here, right?  As a spiritual and religious aid, water is universal and necessary.   

That means we have a problem:  by 2030, one-third of the billions of people on the planet will not have access to clean drinking water; by 2040, we’ll have just over 9 billion people and the constant struggle of agriculture vs. energy needs vs. personal water usage will create dire water shortages for the planet; and if we don’t fix the broken system, by 2050, it could be game over.

 

So what to do?  Rather than say “the problem is too big; there is nothing I can do,” say, “We can be like water.”  By aligning ourselves with the essence that is water, you change the game.  Water is fluid.  Water is cleansing.  Water is buoyant, and intuitive, and multi-dimensional.  Water is ubiquitous.  Water is life.  Water knows how to heal itself and, intrinsically, you do, too.

Today, meditate on the blessings of something seemingly so bountiful, yet so at risk, and decide on what steps you might take to ensure it remains here — in good standing — for many generations to come.  Maybe start by buying a reusable water bottle.

Today is Day 23 of the #AtoZ blog challenge and like water on planet earth, I am all over this!

AND because I’m nothing if not efficient, consider this my entry for the last Friday of the month, the We Are the World Blogfest, #WATWB, because sometimes you just need to double dip.

I’ve skipped all the instructions for #WATWB, but you’re a clever bunch and can surely remember how it all works.  And while the articles I’ve cited are not the usual feel good variety, the are informative and useful, considering, and forewarned is forearmed.

A great weekend to you.

pamlazos 4.26.19

Posted in 7.7 billion people, blog, blog challenge, bottled water, conservation, environmental conservation, four days without water, Kabbalah, metaphysics, regeneration, Sustainability, Uncategorized, waste as a resource, water, water conservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Vernal Pools

[Okay, all these photos are tidal pools not vernal pools, but it’s all I could find in my photo stream (these taken at the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland) and more evidence of their disappearance!]

VERNAL POOLS

Vernal pools are small seasonal pools that generally form following the spring snow melt and the autumn fall rains, ephemeral wetlands that create a breeding habitat for amphibians like frogs and salamanders.

Vernal pool inhabitants generally get their start in these shallow waters before moving to drier ground. Vernal pools provide a predator-free environment without which many of these critters wouldn’t survive.

As with all of nature many vernal pools are at risk due to overdevelopment which isolates not just the pool and the creatures getting their start there, but also weakens the gene pool through a lack of diversity.

Agricultural, urban and suburban stormwater runoff — all loaded with contaminants — are another stressor, as is climate change due to the variable and unpredictable nature of the weather, while water’s formerly robust legal protections, like the pools themselves, are slowly drifting away.

What happens to water happens to people. It’s time for us to act, or we’re going to have to plan accordingly.

Today is Day 22 of the #AtoZ blog challenge. I’m feeling a bit parched. How about you?

pamlazos 4.25.19

Posted in stormwater runoff, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Us, Unmoored

US, UNMOORED

Politically, economically, nationally, individually, and collectively, society appears to be unmoored, going through a time of great doubt and debate, where polarized opinions rule the day and there’s hardly anyone standing in more or less neutral center anymore, the place we all used to meet.

Kids, our world’s future, suffer from depression at unprecedented rates. Also they’re getting shot when they go to school so those two things could have something to do with each other.

People who used to be friends cross the street when they see each other because they are now political rivals. Children have more common sense than their parents because they know climate change is gonna totally mess with their futures but the adults in the room can’t see their way to tackling such huge issues so they pretend there is scientific disagreement and close their eyes.

There’s such a thing as The Flat Earth Society, i.e., it’s not a joke; people really believe it. 🙄

The things we’ve worked so hard for –things like equality, women’s rights, clean air and water, to name a few — are, just like wetlands, open space and fresh water, disappearing at an unprecedented pace.

Monsanto keeps selling Roundup to farmers to dump onto their fields as a way to increase yields while cancer and autoimmune diseases soar to new heights, but as long as that bottom line keeps improving we’ll live with the degraded quality of the food, the planet, our lives.

Is it chaos or a common delirium that’s causing Us to suffer so. Is it greed alone? When did we become so unmoored?

And is there any safe harbor in sight?

It’s Day 21 of the #AtoZ blog challenge. Do you feel the drift?

pamlazos 4.24.19

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments

Trust

TRUST

In keeping with my slow march through the 12 virtues of the merchant priests from the book “Sacred Commerce,” this is Trust. 

Trust squishes her eye lids shut and runs her fingers through her long brown hair, willing her mind to focus on her textbook.  She still doesn’t know what she wants to do out in the world and just thinking about it makes her stomach churn and whirl.  She swallows her Anxiety and flops back down on the bed, keeping her mouth tightly closed because she knows if Anxiety gets out, she will surely make a scene.  “Trust the process,” her mother says.  Trust likes the way that sentence sounds, especially because it has her name in it, but name or not, it doesn’t make decisions any easier. Trust is pretty sure her parents gave her that name because somehow they knew that’s what she needed to work on.

Trust has been cut off in traffic before and that’s why she doesn’t drive in the inner lanes, preferring the outside lanes close to the shoulder where she can pull off onto in the event of an emergency.  Trust is not silly or pollyanna-ish; she knows how to keep an eye out.  

Trust isn’t without doubt, a common misconception among her peers.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite which is what makes her so brilliant. She knows there are a million ways things can go south, and that chances of them exceeding her expectations are one in 3.14, but she trusts anyway, holding forth the candle in the darkness, knowing full well that some jerk could come by at any moment and blow it out.  She believes in living life with a certainty that most don’t possess.  She takes her job as guardian of life’s heart very seriously, but she still needs to make a living, right, so she’s being practical.  I mean, who’s going to pay her just to be positive and nice?  

Still, defining the rest of your life is an arduous task.  As Einstein once remarked, you can’t solve a problem from the same place it originated, and Trust knows that, but sometimes it’s all just a bit much, kind of a bitch, even.  When she gets like that — a little “doubty” — she takes a short nap and it helps change her perspective.  After all, without trust, what does she really have?

[The Greek Meander Key representing the vicissitudes of life.]

Today is Day 20 of the #AtoZ blog challenge and I Trust this will all be over soon.

pamlazos 4.23.19

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments