Yoga teaches us that we are merely reflections of one another; that there is no separation, and that all beings are connected in this miraculous, beautiful, life-sustaining world. The philosophy behind yoga, be it in the Yoga Sutras, The Upanishads, or The Bhagavad Gita, provides us with layers upon layers of ancient wisdom that is still so relevant in today’s modern age. As yoga practitioners, it’s time we embody this philosophy. Our oceans are dying and the biggest issue they are facing, aside from climate change, is plastic pollution. We are living in a time where we are being called to show up, and show up well. The exciting thing about being a yogi in this time is that we can strive to maintain our huge hearts and disciplined minds, and when these things are combined, we can unite and save the world, right!? Plastic pollution is an issue that can seem astronomical and devastating, but when you break it down and look into it, you can also see the potential for change, for people coming together, and for all the exciting new products and inventions being created. If you want to be a part of the solution, keep reading.
Learn about the issue and find a reason that resonates
When it comes to plastic pollution, it can feel overwhelming as there are so many reasons why you should cut plastic out. Scientists are predicting that there is more plastic in the sea than there are fish. Scientists say that every day, globally, more than 8 000 000 000 kilograms of plastic enters our ocean and mostly never completely breaks down. In China, they have discovered plastic micro-beads in their sea salt shakers. Scientists are discovering that a large percentage of the fish consumed by humans and the agricultural industry have plastic in their bodies. When you’ve got the facts, look inwards: find a reason that resonates with you as to why you should make the switch to a plastic-free lifestyle. Personally, I love turtles. I love the Great Barrier Reef, and I know that the mining of oil plus natural gases that go towards producing plastic is affecting the reef’s health. I love swimming, surfing and free diving in the ocean purely because of the turtle and fish interactions. More plastic in the sea = less turtles. What’s your reason? ** sources below
Observe your lifestyle choices
You might be an ocean crusader without even realising! Observe the choices you make – judgement free – when you are grocery shopping, or grabbing a juice or coffee, or even when topping up on shampoo and conditioner. Going plastic-free means getting radically honest with ourselves.
What could you really do without? What can you do right now? Don’t try and do it all at once. Be gentle with yourself. Start with the easy things, like swapping to reusable bags when food shopping, or saying no to straws. Just like there is a process to learning more advanced asana, pranayama, and life in general, there is a process to going plastic-free. Understand this process and you can make the switch to a plastic-free life habitual and sustainable.
Keep a mug or reusable cup in your car. Have your reusable bags ready at all times; if you forget them, buy less and carry it. Carry a drink bottle with you and refill it at any tap. Do you know you’re potentially eating out? Then pack a container and fork so you can eat next to the ocean and not feel guilty! Be prepared to have a broken heart when saying no to the yummiest vegan cake because it comes packaged in plastic. Oh, and straws – always say no.
Farmers make the best kind of friends
Get to know your local farmer. Not only are they normally legends, but they generally avoid those little stickers we forget are plastic. By buying from farmers we support our local economy and avoid plastic packaging and nasty chemicals used in the process of mass farming. Also, find your local bulk food store. Take your large jar collection in and fill up with plastic-free goodies. Definitely buy chocolate from the large selections available while bulk food shopping.
Get creative and DIY
You know those things in your bathroom that you know are wrapped in plastic but can’t imagine there ever being a plastic-free alternative, like toothpaste? Good news! You can make all of these things with ingredients from the bulk food store for a fraction of the price. There are plenty of online resources floating around, however it’s mostly a “make it up as you go along” kinda thing.
Yes, plastic is more convenient. You’ll probably spend an hour in the bulk food shop deciding what sweetener would work best in your DIY toothpaste. Yes, you’ll make mistakes. You’ll get looked at like a crazy person when you juggle your produce away from the shops. You’ll probably even become a little fanatic when you first begin. Be gentle with yourself and with others. Stay integral to your plastic-free mission. Convey your cause through your actions. Lead by example, and others will follow your lead.
Join in on a beach clean
There are communities all around Australia who are activating by going down to the beach weekly or monthly to clean their shores from marine debris. Clean Coast Collective, Responsible Runners, and Take 3 for the Sea are some nationwide groups doing amazing things. You’ll be shocked as to what and how much you’ll find at a beach clean, but you’ll be stoked to connect with a like-minded community- while saving a few turtles – along the way.
Tell a friend, or five!
Could you imagine if every yogi in the whole world told five people they are going plastic-free, or posted a handy plastic-free tip every now and then on their social media platform?
About the author
Mollie Cox is the founder of Jala Yoga, and is based in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, Queensland. She is a dedicated marine conservationist, activist, ocean lover, and yoga teacher. She strongly believes that through the application of the eight-limbed philosophical path to this modern world, along with communities uniting and activating, we have the potential to create a positive and long-lasting change for our planet.