Well, 2012 is officially upon us. I apologize for skipping a post, too–the holidays always get a bit crazy, but I should have written. In any event, here I am.
I recently came across the Yogic concept of aparigraha, sometimes translated as non-possessiveness, or non-hoarding. (Check out this helpful article from Yoga Journal by Helena Echlin on the daily practice of aparigraha.) I think that this is the guiding principle I was searching for in my plastic-reduction efforts. Together with the principle of ahimsa–practicing non-violence toward all living things–aparigraha gives my project a deeper meaning and a greater sense of focus. As I mentioned in a previous post, a often fall prey to feelings of guilt and fear when it comes to my environmentalism. I am not doing enough, and the world is going to hell in a handbasket, I find myself thinking.
But this is neither productive nor very enjoyable, and the idea of aparigraha gives me the opportunity to reconnect with the reason I took on this project in the first place. I want to do my part the keep plastic from entering the waste stream, and from ending up in the ocean. In part, this is because of ahimsa: I don’t want turtles to choke on the plastic bags in which I carried my fruits and vegetables home from the grocery store. But in addition, I want to promote my own happiness by simplifying my life through the practice of aparigraha. When I buy less, and pay attention to the amount of packaging I bring home, it means less junk that I have to deal with later. His Holiness the Dalai Lama put it well when he spoke of being “wise selfish” instead of “foolish selfish.” In other words, I am pursuing this project for what I hope are wisely selfish reasons: I am happiest when I am striving to make myself, those around me, and the planet, healthier.
In practice, this means I am going to try to be a bit more mindful about each and every purchase I make. I enjoy buying things. I admit it. But I also recognize that my actions have a small but real impact on the planet. I can do with a few less purchases, I think. Till next time.