Eco-friendly is the current buzz word. Green, eco-friendly, sustainable, biological are all ‘good’ terms and living an authentic lifestyle is shifting from marginal to mainstream. Certainly, keeping your footprint softer on planet earth is harder to fake than showing you have money. But where does an eco-friendly lifestyle begin and end?
Respect for Life
First of all, let’s look at yoga and how this is connected to eco-friendly living. As violinist Yehudi Menuhin wrote in his introduction to B. K. s. Iyengar’s book, Light on yoga, yoga is “by its very nature inextricably associated with universal laws: respect for life, truth and patience are all indispensable factors in the drawing of a quiet breath, in calmness of mind and firmness of will”.
You won’t pick up yoga and meditation quicker through going harder and faster. Take it easy and slowly and follow these three steps: Practice, practice, practice. Happily, you don’t need props to practice yoga and it’s free. Taking yoga classes with a qualified teacher helps you to learn safely and keep up the discipline of practice. If you think you don’t have any ‘free time’ in your busy schedule, read my blogs Making space when you don’t have time and When saying ‘no’ makes all the difference. Both blogs offer some tips on freeing up time.
The process of change can start with a thought and progress into action as we engage in a different way of being and thinking. Being authentic to ourselves, listening to our ‘inner voice’ is the first step. Eventually your change of mind will be visible to those around you in the way you look, the expression in your eyes, the way you behave, your approach to consumerism and the things you say. This doesn’t mean turning into a saint overnight or losing your sense of humour or ‘flaws’, but it does mean developing awareness. Friends of mine who practice yoga agree that yoga helps them to slow down and open their senses, and this remembrance gives a sense of reality, especially when busy lifestyles are wearing us down. And burn-out and dulling of the senses through hectic living isn’t a new concept. Leonardo de Vinci wrote that the average person “looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance and talks without thinking”.
You can also add ‘purchases without thinking’. Before buying food and beauty products, or anything for that matter, ask yourself, ‘Where does this come from and how was it produced?’ has the product you are about to buy been produced with respect for people, nature (the environment) and animals? The origins of products and what they contain can be confusing, with companies using tricks that can suggest to consumers that the products they are purchasing are ‘eco-friendly’, so let’s look at some commonly used terms and labels.
Words such as sustainability, sustainable, biological and Fairtrade have featured big time in the media and will continue to do so. Let’s run through their definitions in brief:
Eco-Friendly: environmentally friendly (also eco-friendly, nature friendly and green) are terms used to refer to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies claimed to inflict minimal or no harm on the environment. Companies sometimes use these terms to promote goods and services by making environmental marketing claims and with eco-labels.
Sustainable: For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of wellbeing, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resource use. In ecology, sustainability describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time, a necessary precondition for human well-being. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems.
Unsustainable: In his book The Great Disruption, on how the climate crisis will transform the global economy, Paul Gilding writes: “If a system is being used unsustainably and behaviour doesn’t change, then it will no longer be available to use. This is a practical issue; if we don’t have enough fibre, food, or water, or if we don’t have a stable climate, then we simply won’t have the society we have now.”
Biological/Organic Food: Foods that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms, and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.
Fairtrade: Although no universally accepted definition of fair trade exists, fair trade labelling organizations most commonly refer to a definition developed by FINE, an informal association of four international fair trade networks (Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, World Fair Trade Organization, Network of European Worldshops and European Fair Trade Association): fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of marginalized producers and workers.
That’s enough labelling for the time being, folks, and remember: think before you purchase!