Turn on any news channel, social media account, or any other way of connecting with the world, and talk of the environment abounds. And in the midst of the many discussions, arguments, and ideas, the sanctity of taking care of our home – our planet – seems to get lost. There are debates on what needs to be done, but at the end of the day, the safety of our planet, which in turn means the safety of ourselves, is in our very own hands.
As our name suggests, we strive for everyone to live with harmony: harmony with oneself; harmony with those around us – and not just humans, but all beings; and harmony with Mother Earth. PLANET-Based Living is harmonious living because it puts first actions and activities that create harmony on the planet and for the planet. So what are some things we can all be doing right now to ensure that we all have a harmonious tomorrow?
There are five main ways that we can all utilize in our everyday lives in order to do something – anything – to keep respecting this planet of ours: through consumerism, through the foods we eat, how we get around (travel), what we do in our own homes, and how we can step outside of ourselves and spread the word (activism).
Our culture is built on buying. We have a day recognized for shopping. We can purchase food, clothing, games, furniture, the list is endless. If you can imagine it, the chances are you can buy it. The idea, then, is not to shun consumerism, but rather to do it in a more mindful, planet-based way.
Everyone knows the saying that we “vote with our dollar.” Many of us, then, have the capacity to vote multiple times per day. And these votes accumulate. Companies exist only to turn a profit, and if consumers decide to boycott products that are harmful not only to ourselves but our planet, the companies will be forced to rethink their products. This “dollar-vote” may seem inconsequential if we only think of purchases as isolated incidents, but purchase after purchase, day after day, will build an impact beyond the singular purchase we may all be thinking about at any given time.
No matter the store we may find ourselves in, there are amendments we can all make to ensure that when we purchase, we purchase only what is necessary, and with the least amount of material as possible for our situation. First, though, only purchasing what is necessary is invaluable to living a planet-based lifestyle.
Oftentimes today with the advent of online shopping we purchase on impulse, seeing something that is attractive and clicking the purchase button, yet not really stopping to think, “Do I absolutely need this? Will my life improve from this purchase?” And we tell ourselves that we can always return it if we do not like it. No harm, no foul. However, the materials that are used when something is returned will always be more than if purchased and kept; additionally, companies sometimes get rid of a product that was returned because it would be cheaper for them to simply sell a new one and eat the loss, rather than try to sell a used item. We can all stop and think before we purchase: it takes a matter of seconds to develop a conscious level of purchasing, and it is free!
While consumerism is part and parcel of what drives our world, the need to own everything we use has grown to a level that is no longer necessary. Have a home project, but do not own every tool you need for it? Ring your neighbor’s doorbell. This not only limits the amount of “stuff” in your home (more on that later), but sharing tools with friends, neighbors, or family creates less materials in the world. Not to mention it fosters relationships!
Do you love to workout, or are you thinking about trying to start? Join a gym. Belonging to a health club is one of the best ways that we can all use less. Rather than purchasing an expensive piece of equipment that we sometimes believe will be the impetus to force us to get movement into our daily routine, joining a gym is less expensive, and we all share the equipment.
And when you are working out, there is really no need to have that expensive, designer workout shirt for $45 or $50. Shopping at a thrift store for bargain deals on clothing that is not for a special occasion is a great way to not only cut down on your spending, but garners a PLANET-based living mentality: reusing other’s things that they no longer want.
Eating has become one of the most talked about topics in our culture. We all do it everyday, and most of us don’t give it much thought. We don’t associate our food with much else beside how it tastes, and, perhaps, what it costs. However, food may be at the center of everything else we do: we buy food (consumerism); we store it in our homes; some of us even travel in order to taste foods from other places; and many of us are active and vocal in our efforts to share how food can be so much more than it currently is: more for ourselves, more for our fellow beings, and more for the planet.
If you haven’t already, please check out our blog post on Planet-Based Eating. There you will find a very in-depth and respectful analysis of how we can all go beyond “plant-based eating” and develop a reverence not only for our food, but for our entire environment.
Little ways we can all decide to become planet-based people start with the choices of foods we put in our mouths. Avoiding those that are an extreme burden to our health is the easiest way to start. If we feel better, we have more energy to make sounder decisions for ourselves and the planet. Skipping the animal-based options, opting for plants is one way many of us decide to make a conscious effort. But let us not stop there.
Buying locally-grown, organic plant-based foods is an exemplary way to live planet-based. Talking with the people who grow our food can become a rewarding endeavor that builds a connection with what we eat. We get to speak with those who tend for our food, learn their practices and what they use (avoiding chemicals and toxic spray-ons that not only affect us but the land the food is grown on).
If we cannot get to a local farmer’s market, shopping at a store can still afford us plenty of opportunities to be planet-based. Buying food in unprocessed bulk is a natural, healthier way. Not only do we get to cook the food ourselves, leaving out whatever harmful ingredients we do not want in our bodies, but also purchasing larger quantities at one time allows for less material to be used: less packaging, less bags, less containers.
Eating in season is also another great way to eat planet-based. The amount of energy it costs to ship food halfway across the world is quite unthinkable. Purchasing from growers and farmers that may be the next state over, rather than the next country over, is a small but powerful act that minimizes such unseen variables such as transportation and chemicals (used for preserving the foods during transport).
Our home is our sanctuary, but our home is so much more. It is its own organism of sorts, that takes increasingly more amounts of energy for it to run smoothly, from our washing machines to our entertainment systems. There are practices we can all be adhering to right now that could alleviate some of the pressure we put on our planet.
Simple ones that always bear repeating – turning lights off when we leave the room, turning the water off when brushing our teeth, to even putting on an extra layer of clothing in the winter rather than hiking up the thermostat. These may seem trivial, but every action is part of the solution. And in these small tasks we are also showing reverence for the luxuries many of us have: clean, flowing water is a luxury that we can all give thanks for any time we turn on the faucet. But the greatest way we can give thanks is by turning it off when it is not necessary.
Another amazing practice we can all try is one that many of us strive for in our own personal quests: having less. Shows and podcasts abound about downsizing our closets, giving away unused or unwanted items or clothing, and simply minimalizing our dependence on “stuff.” This is a great personal goal to strive for; and when coupling it with what it can do for our planet makes it doubly important. In our world, we are all aiming at simplifying our lives, and it starts in the home.
Doing a load of laundry? Skip the dryer and opt for hang-drying. Not sure how to get the wrinkles out? Before your clothes are completely dry, throw them in the dryer with a wet towel for 10 minutes to reduce wrinkles. When cleaning, reach for reusable cloths instead of paper towels. Thinking about gardening? Research some natural products rather than chemical-laden pesticides and such.
While we are at home, we have more in our control than when we travel. Traveling can sometimes be difficult to live planet-based, but it does not have to be with a little preparation and practice. Family vacations can be fun driving around the country sightseeing. This will help families bond, but it will also help us move away from flight travel. Look for those hole-in-the-wall cottages, or an Airbnb, rather than those mega-resorts. The smaller run places must rely on their own material-saving savvy to stay open, which means they expend less.
Not traveling for vacation, but merely to the office across town? If you are lucky enough to have good weather, take advantage of it. Bike or walk to work when possible—it is not only a game changer for the planet, but it is a great way to set yourself up for the day, or to unwind on your way home. If the weather is unforgiving, opt for public transportation or ride sharing.
Though we cannot control everything when we are out and about, we can always prepare to limit the resources we may need to use. Pack a reusable water bottle that you can fill anywhere. Put a snack or two in your purse or backpack so you fight off the urge to swing by a drive-thru. Planning ahead before we step foot out the door, even if we are only leaving for a few hours, can make a big difference when it comes to using things. Often unexpected situations arise in which we find ourselves unprepared. But, it is the prepared person that is the planet-based person.
Activism is a practice that will never go out of style. The world thrives because it has activists, and no matter our own individual skillset or our limitations, we can all be activists. Even doing some of the things from this post means you are becoming an activist. By simply changing some of our daily habits from resource-depleting, to planet-based supporting, is a form of activism.
But going beyond altering some of our habits is also important in living planet-based. And we can do this without feeling pressured or as if it is a chore. If you like to write, start a blog about PLANET-based living. Share your own stories and tips that we can all use. If you are social, join a group that volunteers once a week. If you already belong to a group, offer to share your ideas with them whether through a presentation or just speak with everyone individually. Sharing ideas and stories is a great form of activism that can hide under the radar. Any time we share our story with another human, we are giving that person a different viewpoint. That is PLANET-based living as well.
Speaking out when you see something you disagree with is another form of activism. If your favorite restaurant is using plastic containers for takeout, suggest a biodegradable alternative. (Remember, though, using our own containers are always the better option if possible.) Ask your gym if you can see the ingredient list on the soap and shampoo they use. Urge them to use planet-supporting toiletries.
We all pay rent if we live in an apartment; we pay assessments if we live in a condominium; and we all pay taxes no matter what. Activism could be our little way of repaying our planet for giving us a welcoming home.
These suggestions are just that: suggestions. They are ideas that we may or may not think of by ourselves. But that is one of the main points when adhering to a planet-based lifestyle: we are not alone. In many of the above topics, asking for help or sharing with others is a central part of living planet-based. Sharing brings us closer and minimizes the impact we have on our planet.
PLANET-based living is a term that is not stagnant: it is always moving, always changing, and always available. If we are not the greatest planet-based people today, let us strive to make at least one change tomorrow. The effects will grow and so too will the impact on our planet, on us.