Practice Mindfulness

Paper or plastic? Which one would you choose? In the past, if given the ultimatum, I would choose paper. Of course, we all think that this would be a better option according to the environment; however, after hearing Leyla speak about this on her TED talk, neither of these are good options. Instead, we should avoid them altogether by using reusable shopping bags. I have only just recently began using these. This ideology also coincides with being mindful.

What does being mindful mean to you? Prior to a reading titled “Mindfulness and Sustainability”, I had only understood being mindful as being aware. On the other hand, mindfulness utilizes positive techniques that are not materialistic to refocus an individual on their own needs and well-being. It also “increases compassion and empathy for others, which in turn, might improve social relations”. I think that when we teach ourselves mindfulness through the act of meditation that we are decluttering our minds. Our culture has become so reliant on material goods to make us happy that we are cluttering not only our physical realm but also our mental realm. Then, we try to keep ourselves happy by buying more stuff. It is a vicious cycle and all we need to do is begin getting rid of stuff and being sustainable by utilizing what we do have for multiple purposes or upcycling. I really like what Marc Cohen says about consumption. He states that prior to consuming something (this could also be used prior to buying something as well) ask the following questions: what is in it, who made it, where is it from, how did it get here, who benefits from the sale, what use is it-is it worth it, what is its lifecycle and embodied energy, and finally, what is its environmental and social impact? By asking yourself these questions, you are practicing mindfulness by being aware of the product and if it is necessary. This technique may help to eliminate excessive or impulse buying as well. Every time you spend money, you’re voting for the world you want to lead into. Meditate on that for a moment.

Like I had mentioned earlier, mindfulness increases compassion and empathy for others. I do not know how you feel about giving and helping others but for me, I absolutely love giving. If I have it to give, I will give it away. I say this because it has been questioned as to whether poverty is responsible for global environmental degradation. What do you think? While I think it is a contributing factor, I do not believe it is the sole factor or even the largest factor. This is where unity needs to form amongst all nations. Peoples of all nations can assist the poverty to be able to acquire appropriate resources and assets. When a group of people are poverty stricken, they rely on the environment for their resources. For example, food. They will have to grow their own food. Where do the scraps of food that they do not consume go? Back into the earth, right? This is not harmful at all. If this same group of people that is living in poverty do not have money, how are they to contribute to the over consumption that the rest of the world practices? I like the way that John Ambler thinks on this issue in that we need to look at the area that the poor reside and implement policies in their favor. He also believes that the non-poor, commercial companies, and state agencies cause the majority of the environmental damage through their land clearing, agro-chemical use, water appropriation and pollution (Ambler, P 144). These same issues are what is wrong with industries like construction, interior design, and merchandising.

In the interior design industry, structures are not being designed to last long-term. We see so often designs that are a particular style and more often than not that design is the current trend. When interiors are being designed, there needs to be multi-functionality in everything that is going to be placed inside so that furniture and rooms may serve more than one purpose. This would cut down on future waste. Interiors that do not last result in demolition. Demolition results in the structures being hauled off to the landfills. A part of why interiors do not last is because of the types of materials used. For example, particle board is now being used to build cabinetry and furniture. This type of wood is put together using formaldehyde which is a carcinogen. If any type of moisture gets into it, it begins to deteriorate; releasing these chemicals into the environment to be inhaled by humans. Examples like this are why mindfulness is an important practice for everyone to learn and begin.

I look forward to your feedback.

Thank you,

Amber Fisher

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