Practicing satya and saying NO to plastic

By Gentri Watson

In March of this year I gave birth to my first child, a beautiful baby girl that lights up my entire universe. Motherhood has offered me more soul gifts than I could have possibly fathomed, and as my heart swells with a love deeper than I knew I was capable of, my mind scrambles to keep up with the millions of ways I want to care for her. This love for her has uncovered in me a passion that is fuller and more vibrant than ever for the world we live in because she is now in it.

I’m honored to have the responsibility of not only creating the best life I can for her, but as one of the most prominent influencers in her life, I am now a living example of o​ne​ way to be in the world. Thus I feel responsible for being the best version of myself that I can be. By “best” I mean the most authentic, aligned, and activated. My measure of “best” comes from within. I’ve been inspired to engage in a lengthy and sometimes confusing process of self-inquiry in order to get as honest as I can with myself about things I do, think, and say on a day to day basis and question whether or not they are in line with my heart, soul and core values. In yogic terms, this is the practice of s​atya,​ of living in truth.

In practicing s​atya,​ I seek to clarify the truth from the muck which, for me, works through feeling. Truth feels elevating, like it lifts me up and shakes me clean of the dead weight of stories, labels, and constrictions. The muck feels dull and suffocating, like sticking my head in the sand and barely breathing. I try to keep a peaceful but vigilant inner eye on those signals of muck that rise up from time to time so I can identify the inner incongruities which cause these feelings of breathlessness and inertia. Getting clear and really truly living in line with what my heart knows is undoubtedly a lifelong and possibly endless practice. I’m sharing here about just one element of my journey.

PLASTIC. Convenient, lightweight, durable, and NON-BIODEGRADABLE… that basically means it never, ever goes away. Plastic is not capable of decaying through the action of living organisms. Therefore every single piece of plastic ever made still exists, can never become part of nature in a healthy way, and will forever be unhealthy for our planet. From where I stand, there’s no real way of knowing where my trash and recycling ends up. Plastic is destroying our oceans and killing marine life and most of us are contributing to it on a daily basis. This is something I had to get real with myself about.

Last May, my husband, Aaron, and I were having a passionate conversation about the issues that trouble us most in the world, how easy it is to feel helpless and hopeless and take the approach of “how much difference can one person really make?” I professed to him the guilt I feel daily (more like disgust) about how much single use plastic we purchase while grocery shopping. This was that feeling of muck, of sticking my head in the sand because I know my actions aren’t aligned with what I feel is right. I confess that convenience has at times overshadowed my ethical values, especially during early motherhood where convenience is the name of the game. It took a lot of courage for me to suggest that we try going plastic free for a whole month. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time but have felt so daunted by. Historically, it’s been hard for me to even remember to keep my re-useable bags in my car. However, we decided we needed this as a sort of cleanse to create a fresh start and we chose the month of July to commit to going plastic free. We also decided to diminish that feeling of being one person making better choices, and to invite all our friends to join us in plastic free July.

Aaron put together little kits for us each to keep in our cars consisting of a couple re-usable bags, several large mason jars, some old large yogurt containers and a couple cotton mesh produce bags. On July 2nd I did my first plastic free grocery trip. I walked into our local co-op feeling a bit intimidated as I looked around and realized that almost everything was packaged in plastic, so I headed to the bulk section and started filling my jars. I actually enjoyed the process much more than I thought I would, and my baby, babbling from her carrier strapped to my chest, loved watching me fill and weigh each container. I walked out of there feeling unexpectedly elevated, activated, and lighter…S​atya! ​I felt a genuine heart opening as I recognized I was was finally taking this particular step toward living in line with my core values. The rest of the month was a breeze as I quickly got into the habit of keeping my “kit” in my car and I actually looked forward to going grocery shopping. I appreciated the slower pace and the spontaneous conversations that arose with other people buzzing around the bulk section.

Here are a few other things we gleaned from this month long experiment:

  • Cashew milk is extremely easy to make- 4 to 1 water/cashews in the blender, a dash of vanilla and voila! Say goodbye to those grumpy non-recyclable tetrapaks that your almond milk comes in
  • Plastic free shopping leads to a much, much healthier diet. I miss you, chips!
  • Homemade tortillas from ground masa and water are so cheap, easy, and delicious
  • Homemade granola from scratch, also cheap, easy, and delicious
  • We did not find any cheese that wasn’t wrapped in plastic
  • Whole Foods is the only place in Bellingham where we found humanely raised hormone free chicken. Their deli will wrap your chicken in paper for you or put it in a container you provide
  • Plastic free shopping is more expensive

As we hoped, most of those good habits we created during plastic free July have stuck with us, with the occasional exception of a bag of chips and of course–cheese! Overall it just feels good knowing that we’re living more in line with our hearts, being better citizens of the planet and setting a healthy example for our daughter.

As it turns out, Aaron and I are not the only people who thought July was a good month for this. There’s a global movement of earth loving folks who commit to eliminating single use plastic from their daily lives during the month of July every year. There’s even a website- plasticfreejuly.org with a lot of great tips on how to go plastic free.

Click here to learn more about Gentri and see her teaching schedule.

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