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Environmental Change Starts With You

Do you want to change the world? I hope so. We’re in a bit of a mess right now. From the personal level to the collective, we have some serious work to do. I don’t need to list the problems we are facing because you know them. They are significant and aren’t going to be fixed with a Band-Aid. We are going to have to dig deep and make a lot of changes.

Plastic trash on a beach with a city in the background.

I’m not just talking about the personal stuff like health care, wellness, religious beliefs, or having a good job. Although these are all important places to begin creating change, it’s also vital that we start working on our relationship to the world around us. We are all connected. Every person and every living thing on this planet is bound together in intricate webs of relationships. You can’t truly heal without paying attention to these relationships.

In the past I’ve written that changing the world starts with each of us. It begins by doing your own mental, emotional, and physical work. As you begin to heal your own wounds you will then be able to use your gifts to help heal the world. You’ll discover your own purpose and why we need you here. You’ll join in on the project of making the world a better place.

Ecological healing, though, is not the purview of just a select few. We may not all be called to perform heroic acts of environmental restoration, but healing the everyday relationship to the world around us is something we all must participate in. Our personal health is intimately connected to the health of the people and environment around us. The choices we make about what we purchase, consume, and throw away affect everybody and everything. Our decisions to care or not care about all the living beings in our world can help heal or help harm. None of this exists in a vacuum.

Say, for instance, you know someone who gets terribly sick with a life-threatening illness. One of the first things they do is learn how to change their diet to support better health. They might switch to organic foods, cut out the processed junk, and drink more pure water. Then they may learn about the chemicals around them and how to avoid bringing them into their homes. This happens because they’ve come face to face with the fact that their health is intimately connected with the world around them. What happens out there where food is being grown affects their own body. The chemicals being used in the world and in their own homes influences them every day. There’s a complicated web of relationships that connect their health problems with what is going on ecologically.

Healing the world starts with your own work, but quickly moves beyond you to work on these relationships. The more you learn, the more you realize that everything is connected. We can’t tear down the boreal forests in Canada and not see repercussions all over the world. We can’t produce and use plastic constantly without it ending up in our oceans affecting ocean life that eventually affects us. We can’t drain the aquifers of water and expect that our primary agricultural lands will still have enough to produce food. All this is connected.

It’s because we’ve forgotten these natural relationships that we are in such a hot mess right now. Tornadoes, flooding, hurricanes, wildfires, floating plastic islands, collapsing fish and bird populations, drought, forever chemicals, and melting icebergs are all signs that our relationship with the world around us is seriously out of balance.

I know these are huge issues that started long before us. But the same principle applies here as it does to every other thing we want to change in the world. The change starts with us. It starts with each one of us noticing the problem, acknowledging our own part in it, and choosing to work toward something better. It starts with each of us doing our own work every day to make better choices. It starts one step at a time with each of us doing what we can with what we have to make a better world.

People protesting with signs that say, "There is no planet B."

I know it seems like the problems are insurmountable. I’ve spent tons of time researching the environmental challenges we are facing, and I see many things that appear to be way past the point of no return. I feel terrible for kids growing up in what seems like an ecological disaster zone. They probably feel like there is no way but down from here. Greta Tunberg is truly expressing the frustration of a generation.

What I want you to know is that no matter what it looks like, it isn’t too late. It isn’t too late to heal ourselves. It isn’t too late to heal our relationship with the world and it isn’t too late to heal all the relationships that make the Earth’s ecology work. It isn’t too late to make significant changes that will allow us all to create our best lives. We just have to know where to start.

Where we start is in the energy world. All healing begins first as an energetic possibility. If you are going to heal, your energy body will start the healing process long before your physical body shows any signs of it. If your emotional life is going to heal, the energy body starts to push out old hurts long before you feel the relief of those hurts fading away. If you are going to change your beliefs, that begins by noticing the blocks and imbalances in your energy body that are holding you back.

Changing the energy world doesn’t happen spontaneously. It starts with changing your intentions. You have to believe you can make a difference and decide to put effort into taking steps to do that. Once your beliefs and intentions line up, the energy of your purpose starts to drive change in your physical world.

It’s the same with ecological change. We have to believe that people can make a difference, even with some of the massive problems we are facing. We have to set the intention to start making changes in our own lives to create healing in the world around us. Even if the change we start with feels really small, the energy of our intentions ripples out and joins the energy of other people’s intentions to create a whole that is much larger than the sum of its parts.

Woman sitting in sunlight meditating.

Why do I believe this? For two reasons. The first reason relates to a study that was first conducted in the 1970s and has since been repeated many times. These studies found that large groups of people could join together in transcendental meditation (focusing on peace and love) and reduce local urban crime rate. Earlier studies found that when just 1% of a given population practiced transcendental meditation, the crime rate was reduced within the entire population. More recent studies record an even smaller percentage (the square root of 1%) could reduce crime rates. (Read a summary of the studies here.) So, the intention of a very small percentage of a population can have energetic effects for the whole. That’s pretty cool.

The second reason why I believe that this is possible is that on an energetic level I’m already seeing this happen. I don’t pretend to be a psychic or a mystical prophet of any kind, but I do work with energy enough to know that things are moving and changing on the global level. In the physical world things look pretty bleak, but on an energetic level healing is already starting to happen. That’s because enough people have formed the intention to fix the problems that the energy is starting to shift. We are starting to see plenty of small physical changes in the world already (for example, there are tons of cool sustainability projects and pollution cleanup projects going on) but there is more in the works. It’s exciting.

I have no idea if we need 1% of the global population to get on board to heal our ecological crisis or if we need 10% or 50%. The actual number doesn’t really matter, though, because what we really need is every possible person to care enough to make a difference and start to create actual change. The more people who form the intention to change the more energy we can direct toward ecological healing. The more people who follow up their intentions with physical actions the faster we will see physical improvement.

I know it can be a challenge. I think where a lot of people get sidetracked is by feeling discouraged by the incredible scale of the problems we face. How can my intention and my simple everyday choices possibly make a difference? It seems like too big a problem to tackle with some simple fixes.

Which isn’t wrong. Even if every person on the planet stops using herbicides and buys organic foods, we won’t fix the all the issues. But we can't just make one or two changes and then stop. The key is that we need to keep taking steps consistently to live more sustainably and create ecologically balanced lifestyles. That goes way beyond just switching one thing in your life. But even this doesn’t have to feel overwhelming.

Let’s think again about intention and doing your own work. If you want to heal your body, you start with the intention to do so and then you hold that intention every day as you take the next step that needs to be done to reach your desired outcome. You can’t just walk one day, eat a healthy meal, and expect that to be enough. It takes a million tiny steps to get where you are going.

The same is true of ecological healing. We must hold that intention over a long period of time and make consistent tiny steps to create a physical reality that lines up with our intention. If we take it one day at a time, it isn’t as overwhelming. We start by changing one thing in our life and then move on to another. Each one improves our relationship with the world a little more.

A pile of used water bottles and food containers.

However, even this is a very additive view of what is going on. Energetically, making an intention and following up with action is actually exponential. So, if you choose to make an intention to help heal our relationship with the natural world, you add your energy to support what is already happening. Then every day you make small changes to do your part to help out. Maybe you stop buying plastic water bottles. Maybe you switch one of your grocery purchases to an organic version. Maybe you stop buying cleaning chemicals or switch to a more ecological friendly laundry soap. These tiny steps multiply over time because they affect more than just you. They help the people whose water is being taken by big bottling companies. It helps the agricultural workers who can now do their work with fewer chemicals. It helps the watershed where your cleaner water waste is sent.

As you make changes you will also start to affect others. Maybe you give someone a reusable travel mug as a gift so they can stop using single-use coffee cups every day. Maybe you buy someone fair trade chocolate or purchase one gift that will last much longer than four cheap items that will barely make it through the year. Maybe you donate money to an organization working to create green spaces in your area. In these small ways you spread the intention to heal our relationship with the world to others. You indicate that this is important and give them the opportunity to get on board. The energy of your intention starts to ripple out to create bigger change. Your small choices multiply and spread at the same time.

It is so easy in our current social and political climate to feel like healing the ecological wounds we’ve created in this world is not even possible. (There are some who still want to argue that it isn’t necessary, but that group grows smaller every day.) We give up because it seems too big a problem. But it’s not. It starts with as many people as possible choosing to do what we can to make a change and then taking tiny steps in the right direction. Then our tiny steps allow others to take tiny steps and those tiny steps turns into larger steps somewhere else. The energy of change multiplies exponentially as it flows through the world. We have to believe that our collective baby steps will create significant physical healing in the world. We do this for ourselves all the time. We can do the same for the world we live in.

So where do you start? First, make an intention to become more aware of how your everyday choices affect the people and environment around you. Then make an intention to create small, consistent changes to live more sustainably. If you’ve never done this, here are some completely random but easy places to begin right now:

  • Turn off lights (especially outdoor ones) as much as possible to save electricity.

  • Take a walk outside rather than use electronic exercise equipment.

  • Pick up some trash.

  • Decide not to buy something you really don’t need.

  • Clean out your used plastic packaging and recycle (dirty things can’t be recycled!).

  • Commit to not buy any more chemical cleaners for your house.

  • Take your own bags shopping so you don’t use any more single-use plastic bags.

  • Try to use a little less water today than you did yesterday.

  • Reuse a plastic baggie instead of throwing it out.

  • Commit to never buy vegetables packaged in plastic again.

Some of these are so simple it amazes me that people don’t do them. They are also so simple that it seems like they can’t possibly make a difference. But that’s the power of intention. If we commit to doing these basic kinds of things with the intention of healing our relationship to the world, that energetic purpose creates change that is bigger than just one tiny action. And if you commit to taking tiny actions every day and every week and every year, it adds up quickly.

Have you ever heard of that couch potato to 5K app? It helps people who have never run a step in their lives work their way up to running a 3.1 mile race. It works because it takes someone’s intention and gives them tiny steps to take to create bigger change.

I wish I could create an app that does this for people to be more ecologically minded. Wouldn’t it be nice to have it all laid out there step by step for you? Unfortunately, I don’t have an app and it would be hard to create one anyway because everyone has different life situations that make sustainable living hard to generalize. Some people live in urban apartments while others are in huge rural homes. Some have families they need to get on board with changes while others are single and can switch things up quickly. Some people have very limited finances while others have very limited storage space. Each of these situations create different kinds of ecological needs. That’s why I don’t want to overly generalize what you need to do to create change.

What I can say is that we all need to do SOMETHING. Every single one of us can make better choices. Every single one of us is part of the problem and part of the solution. There are no excuses. I know it can be hard, but nothing is going to get better unless we consciously work to repair our relationship with the world around us.

The ecological crisis is real. The problems are big. There are huge things we don’t have direct control over. But that doesn’t mean we give up. It means we all have to step up and choose to make a difference in any small or big way we can. Healing our world means healing ourselves first. It means doing our own emotional, mental, energetic, and physical work. Part of that work means making choices every day to be more ecologically conscious. To take steps toward more sustainable living. You make the intention to change and add your energy to the energy that is already making a difference.

5 ways to make Laundry more eco friendly pinterest pin

I could throw a whole lot of resources at you right now but that would be overwhelming. Start with the easy things we all have in common: buying food, brushing your teeth, using toilet paper, recycling, and other basic things like that. Most of these things are easy to get information on and easy to change to be more sustainable. Once you get a few simple things under your belt, you can expand into other areas.

If you are a Pinterest fan, follow my sustainable living board for resources and ways to get started! On the board you can find my pin about how to do laundry in a more eco-friendly way and other ideas.

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