What are the best ways to live in our world today? Both with the Earth and Spiritually? And what can we do to make a difference?
This is my top 10 list of things we can do everyday or just a few days to really make a difference to ourselves and the environment.
So many people say - "How can one person make a difference? "
The Dalai summed it wonderfully..
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
What's really hurting the planet right now is the recognition of what needs to be done but that feeling of overwhelm which leads all too often to apathy. Or the 'oh, what good will it do anyway?'
But my hope with this list is that it will provide a little inspiration for when it feels meaningless, too small or just insignificant while we all know deep down that it's far from the truth.
So let's get straight to it.
1 - Eco-bricking
What is Eco-bricking and why is it number 1?
2 very good questions to ask because it may help us tackle the massive plastic problem we see today.
Basically an eco-brick is lots and lots of used plastic (hard or soft, washed and dried) stuffed and compacted tightly into used plastic bottles that when combined with other eco-bricks, get used for building structures and all kinds of cool projects.
So here's where you start:
Find an empty bottle and start filling it with all your old plastic wrappers and packaging. Once you have filled it up, compress it all down tightly, not leaving any space, then start another one. Soon you will see how much plastic you'll need to fill just one bottle. That's how much plastic we are containing from going out into the environment.
Then, when you have enough bottles you can send them to an eco brick collection point for them to start putting it to use.
So you can see, there really is no limit to how big it can go.
That's super cool but how does it save the world?
It saves the world as for me, one of the biggest environmental impacts right now is plastic. And not just plastic but micro plastics that degrade over time and are almost impossible to re-use, or even remove from the environment once they become too brittle. So what an Eco Brick does is combine all the single use plastics like wrappers, cling film and packaging and compresses it into used bottles that can then be used for building projects.
Just think how much plastic is inside that whole building! Plastic that would otherwise be floating around somewhere else.
And not only that, it reduces or gives an alternative to the heavy machinery used for building with concrete that's also heavy on the environment.
So, by taking the time to really compress each bottle down as much as you can, leaving no hidden air pockets, huge beautiful creative buildings can be formed from materials that have been recycled.
Once a structure is formed from eco bricks it is incredibly solid, strong and durable while providing heat when its cold, and a cooler atmosphere when it's hot. They need no foundations to be dug, no big machinery and are from a 100% recycled materials.
My number 1 'How To Save The World Practically' was going to be reduce single use plastics but it felt a little reactive instead of proactive to our current situation. Although I feel eradicating single use plastics would be a huge achievement and a massive environmental save, it's looking unlikely.
So, what's the solution?
My answer is Eco-bricks. If single use plastic and any other plastic is lying around, find a bottle and start creating your own eco-brick. You might be quite amazed at how much even one little bottle can hold.
To find out what projects use them in your local area or to find a drop off centre near you, simply put Eco-brick drop off areas near me into Google and see what's closest.
And if nothing else happens, you've condensed a whole bunch of plastic into one sealed place that can't degrade and spread, but stay confined instead.
So, you can begin to save the world today by making eco-bricks!
2. Buy Locally
The statistics for buying local procucts is huge. Not only does it reduce the environmental impact of having things imported, it adds hugely to the local economy by it being re-invested straight back into other businesses that are doing the same.
Here is a graphic to show you the difference.
So a huge chunk of the same money can be re-invested back into the local economy by simply choosing local products.
But where to buy locally?
Find markets, local stores, local business owners, private companies and smaller businesses that hold to this ethos. By this, we can celebrate diversity and add to the local economy, reducing our footprint as we go.
3. Use natural products
What are natural products?
Natural products are products made from naturally sourced materials such as tea tree, neem and mint for toothpaste. Pine sap for deodorant and bees wax, lavender and other essential oils for soaps.
In today's world, they are everywhere and in such diversity. There's natural soaps, natural toothpaste, natural shampoo, natural deodorant and natural cleaning products for almost any of your household needs. Let alone using Bicarbonate Soda to wash clothes and Apple Cider Vinegar to wash surfaces, there is an abundance of products that we can use to cut down on the chemicals that are found in commercial products.
Using natural products is much softer and more nourishing for your skin, your hair and your teeth as it allows it to breathe more and lets the natural oils from your body remain. So, not only is it better for your whole being, it drastically reduces the chemicals that are in other products which ends up getting washed down the sink, put into our water systems and eventually pollutes the Earths water table.
These natural products do cost a little more and I have myself not always been able to afford the natural ones but whenever possible, I always try. And once I do try, I often find myself being more appreciative, more aware and more conservative.
Check out one of my top picks for you to see what's out there.
Tom's Toothpaste - The classical fluoride free natural toothpaste
4. Eat Local Organic Produce (and if possible, eat seasonally too)
This ones a big one. And I said where possible because I know the banana from Costa Rica can be too tempting to ignore sometimes. But it's with awareness so wherever possible, we can try.
So what does it mean to eat local organic produce?
It means choosing produce that have been grown locally, sourced locally and sold locally. As with Buying Locally and what that brings to the local economy, food and food production is one of the most invested industries in the world. And seeing how much food moves around the world in just one day is staggering.
The UK alone has been reported to import 80% of its food. Just think of how much human power that takes and what impact that has on the environment.
A simple, quick change in how we buy, what we buy and where we buy our food can reduce these numbers dramatically. Also, buying local food is a more personal experience as we often get to see who has grown the vegetables and fruits, who has sourced the produce or at the very least, know which farm is has come from.
This benefits our bodies too. Organic produce keeps most of its nutrients as from the time its picked to the the time it's eaten is drastically shorter than, let's say, an unripe banana from Costa Rica being picked to ripen in transit, packaged in country and then sold thereafter.
Organic produce does cost a little more and again I haven't always been able to buy the best produce but whenever I do, I often find the same feelings arise. I'm more appreciative, more conservative and more aware of what I'm eating. I also spend more time preparing each dish so it becomes a bit more of a special occasion.
I also find myself less bloated, more full and more satisfied as what's going down is far more nutritious for me.
"If I eat an apple, does the apple become I or do I become the apple?"
It's a cute little question to ask and one that always makes me reflect. Because really, I do become the apple and the apple does become me. We are inseparable. So, if the apple has been grown locally, without pesticides or chemicals, has been picked recently and is full of its nutritional value, then all of that goodness comes into me which naturally feeds my whole system with more nutrition and better health.
So, if you can, eat local organic produce whenever you can. And if it is in season, then double winner! Yes, it might mean fewer strawberries until summer, more apples than kiwis, more melon than papaya and possibly fewer mangoes, but just think when they come back around how happy you'll be. And how much more nutrition will be in each fruit when it does.
So, find a local market, source some new products and try something new. Embrace the skewed fruits, the slightly knobbly vegetables and seasonally grown produce and see how your body responds.
From Earth to Spirit
Now we transition from practical Earth based alternatives that save the world and we turn inward to Spirit to see how and what we can do to save the world from within.
6. Pray/Give Gratitude
Some might be surprised to see this on the list. I hear you asking - how can praying save the world? Isn't there more pressing things to think about other than praying to a God for something to get better?
But that's where I think we've been misguided. It's our misperceptions with prayer that has gotten us a little confused. By pray, I don't mean sitting down, hands in prayer position, praying to an almighty God outside of yourself. Although this is a beautiful faith and a very comforting one for those committed to it, it doesn't mean that's the only way to pray.
Some people pray by laughing, others in silence. Some people pray by making love, others in celibacy. Some people pray in the deliciousness of food, others by fasting. I encourage and honour it all, for when it's done authentically, essentially we are in deep gratitude for that moment, giving thanks to be lucky enough to experience such a thing.
And done in its authenticity, it evokes more of the same being attracted to us which leads to a similar emotion or experience that evokes the prayer to continue.
Whatever you pray for, fully trust in it wholeheartedly as that emotion that you feel for it will bring it right towards you.
If it's in laughter you pray, cherish that you have someone that makes you laugh. If it's in silence you pray, pray the presence of sound in its absence.
If it's in love making you pray, be humbled for the lovers legs intertwined with yours. If it's in celibacy you pray, give gratitude for the courage to walk alone without lustful pleasures.
If it's in the deliciousness of food you pray, feel and appreciate the enormous effort it took Mother Earth to bring it to your taste buds. And if it's in fasting you pray, send gratitude to the knowing that pachamama has fed you enough already.
We can not only pray to invite better things into our lives, we can also bless the things we already have and thus, manifesting more deeply into what we truly want in our lives.
Prayer is the most beautiful and intimate dialogue to have with oneself. It's the soul speaking to itself.
So, what is your soul saying?
In whatever way feels good for you.
As we pray we see the joy, the love and the peace it can bring which radiates from inside our very being. We can feel we've unlocked a part of ourselves that otherwise was rarely felt. And now it's been felt and you've understood how to keep feeling it, naturally, you feel like sharing it with others. And share it you must.
In the Sikh tradition, Guru Nanak - a Sikh Kundalini Master heard of yogis on top of a mountain who had special inner qualities developed through meditation practices. He looked around at the world around him and realised that to really make a difference, we have to share our qualities to bring people out of ignorance and misery.
So, he walked up to the top of the mountain to ask the meditating yogis to come down. In response they asked why? Because who are you really serving from up here? He replied.
So I ask you the same question - who are you serving? And how?
By teaching we can serve. And by serving, we learn. It's a beautiful feedback loop that asks for nothing except humility.
So teach, speak your truth, be patient of those that are peaking theirs and only teach to those who are willing to learn.
An important question to ask when teaching is - who is this for? If you see the student is unwilling, it is for you. So only if they are ready and able to receive, is it a good time to share your teachings. But always be ready to teach, and be taught. The best way to do this is to live your teachings, embody them fully and live them authentically. Then, when the moment comes to teach, it's the easiest gift to share.
Whether it's in a meeting, a workshop, a hug, eye-contact, a smile, a lecture, a conversation, a cry, a laugh or in silence. Always be ready to be the highest version of yourself that you can be in the moment it arises. Which is in every single moment.
Within you lies an ancient wise teacher who carries the wealth of knowledge past down from generation to generation. And within you lies a new born child, seeing and hearing things for the very first time.
It's by living somewhere in the middle of these two that the teachings can be given and received.
8. Patience and Compassion
As we pray we see that we want to share. And because we want to share we have the desire to teach and pass on our message to others. Crucially however, as we begin to share our message we see that for some people, they do not want to hear it or cannot hear it the way you wish they could. So, for some of the time, the teachings can feel lost, not properly understood or even dismissed. Many a times have I felt eyes rolling and 'oh god, not again Andy.' being spoken within.
So this is where we practise patience and compassion. And give thanks to anyone who gives us this opportunity. It's a practise to be undertaken in the remotest parts of ourselves, for others cannot help you practise. Be sure to practise patience when the message is lost, and especially when it's dismissed out of hand. Practise patience when knowing when to speak. And only speak if you feel your message can be received. Not will be received, as that's tricky to gauge most of the time, but at least can be received. That's all we can hope for.
Practise compassion for all those unable to hear your message, and find compassion for their teachers and their teachers teachers and their teachers teachers teachers. Then feel gratitude for all of yours.
Practise compassion for when your message wasn't delivered in the way you'd hope you could have been. Find compassion for your future self who will try again.
All the best and most well received teachers in the world have had patience and compassion in abundance. Patience and compassion for the other and the self as they saw no separation in the two but observed that they were both looking at the same source, just from slightly different perspectives.
9. Take Action Over Apathy
This for me is a very important one that I eluded to at the beginning of this blog post.
As the Dalai Lama said 'if you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.'
So turn off the running water tap when you're brushing your teeth, wash that dirty piece of plastic, recycle it and stuff it into an eco brick. Try to pick up any rubbish you see in nature, don't kill any living beings, however small they may be, use less chemicals, feel gratitude for what you already have and do all the small things you can, just because you can.
Every mountain is made up of tiny particles squished and squeezed so tightly together for so many thousands of years that they become one huge rock face. But if all those tiny particles, those grains of sand hadn't begun their first simple steps, the mountain couldn't exist, or at least it would be a very different mountain.
So the little things count. Just as it has been the other way around too as for hundreds of years we have been squishing and squeezing millions of particles together to create an enormous mountain that only now we are really starting to feel.
If everyone does the little things themselves, the best they can, then the seemingly over-whelming tasks become manageable. Instead of saving the world, we save and protect the little bits we can and with everyone doing the same, the whole world might just start to see a change.
Asking for a change in the depths of despair is completely understandable, especially when the way is unknown. But knowing ways to help, seeing ways to improve and NOT doing anything is what's hurting the planet right now. This apathetic stand point of 'what good can one person do anyway?' is not the language of the mosquito, but one that has somehow been adapted by humans. All mosquitos would die tomorrow if they thought 'well, what good can any one of us do anyway?' But unfortunately that is what's happening to the human race right now. Apathy, not action is causing us to live in a world we see how to change things, seen many different people show us many different ways, from sustainable living to mindfulness practises, but still we ask what can any one person do anyway?
My question to you is - aren't you curious to find out? To make an experiment, put your question to the test. How much can I do? How much can I do if I had the help of another? And even more? What then?
See what happens. See how it spreads.
We've tried apathy and we've seen it doesn't work. Let's take action and see how far we can take it. Let's try.
10. Think Positively
This could be number 1 and perhaps should be but it could have been any number in this line up as well. I choose to leave it until the last as thinking positively has taken a bad rap recently, much like 'if it's meant to be, it will be.' So easily are these thrown around but rarely understood. So, I left it until last for the reasons that saving the world can be done without a positive thought, like eco bricking, or buying natural products, recycling or buying local organic produce. All this can be done in quite the opposite mindset to positivity and still be effective. Sometimes actions born from hate, disgust, anger and fear, if used to produce change for the better can be very productive. But anyone living with that hate, disgust, anger or fear has suffered as the consequence so in that, the system is flawed.
So what's the other way?
Dr. Joe Dispenza speaks of manifestation in a way that shows with scientific proof (oh god, science, I hear you say) but yes, science shows us that when we think a thought, this thought sends an electrical impulse out into the universe (and our body), into something called the Quantum Field. If that's all we do it stays there with all the other infinite number of possibilities that are co-exisiting there, waiting to see how and when they may manifest themselves. And the way we do that is by feeling the change before it's happened thus living it in the present, giving so much gratitude for it arriving to us and then releasing all knowing and attachment to how it looks when it arrives.
You tap into the infinite field of possibility by firstly thinking a positive thought, sending an electrical charge into the universe, then feeling yourself as it or having it, thus sending a magnetic charge of that energy back towards yourself.
Now, very importantly, this is where thinking positively is key because if you've sent the electrical charge and then felt yourself to be that or to have that desired something, magnetically drawing that energy now to you, you must keep the positive thinking to a high enough vibration in order for that energetic pull to remain pulling you both together. If you doubt that it can happen or won't happen, get all out of sorts at the next driver to cut you up, at the falling rain outside when you had planned to take your kids to the park and anything else trivial that causes an emotion of lesser vibration, then the energy has the capacity to slow down. It's still moving towards you, just now slower as your vibration is slower. It only speeds back up if your vibration increases. Our vibration increases we feel emotions of Love, Joy and Compassion. And slows down when we feel emotions of Hate, Fear, Jealously and Anger.
So which ones do you choose?
Every master, guru and saintly person has known this and used it to create and shape matter.
Now, how can this save the world? I hear you ask.
And it's a very important question. In a world where most of the population, especially in the west, have thought, spoken, expressed, discussed, queried and argued about their being too many humans on this planet, most, in some form, saying 'if only humans weren't here, the world would be a much better place.' Or worse, 'the human population needs to be culled, then all will be well.'
Now, the same laws apply when thinking negative thoughts and feeling negative emotions. That sends an electrical charge out into the Quantum Field and magnetically draws negative energy back towards you.
And that's what's happening today, in this mass pandemic of flu, disease, viruses, war, fires, draught, hunger and more disease. All of it reflects the inner turmoil of what are thoughts are sending out to the universe.
So, if that's where it started, can we fix it?
When we trace it back to ourselves and see we are the creators of our own reality, then it must be said we can create an altogether new reality, a new earth, a new life. So just as in prayer, in teaching, in patience and compassion and action over apathy, we can see that with all of these aspects, if we think positively and feel emotions of love, joy and compassion for a new outcome, then that outcome is bound to come to us, it has no other wish. But it's taken a tremendous effort up until this point to get us to where we are so it's going to take some time to see things shifting, especially in the face of adversity, like we are in today. But practising patience and compassion, continuing to share our message and teach, and thinking positively about the outcome, we know it's possible. Because we know it's already on its way to us. All we have to do is keep our vibration high enough and receive it when it arrives.
Think positive thoughts -----> Electrical charge in the Quantum Field
Feel elevated emotions <------ Magnetically Pull it back to you
This, with a combination of all the others, can and is changing the world as we speak.