Practicing yoga for close to a decade has had a positive impact on my mentality toward marine conservation and shifted my approach to activism.
What I’ve learned is this: We can look at the issues the world is facing and easily feel overwhelmed; however the philosophy and practice of yoga provides tools for us to integrate our practice from the mat into our daily lives. Just by calling on these tools, the world’s problems start to look like opportunities to grow and transform on an individual level, which of course ripples into our communities, countries, and planet.
We also feel more hopeful and optimistic, which empowers others to join us!
Yoga teaches us that we are merely reflections of one another, that there is no separation, and that all beings are interconnected in this miraculous, beautiful, life-sustaining world. The philosophy behind yoga, be it in the Yoga Sutras, the Upanishads, or the Bhagavad Gita, provides us with layers upon layers of ancient wisdom that is still so relevant in today’s modern age.
We are reaching a critical tilting point in the future of our planet, and as yoga practitioners, it’s time we embody this philosophy. It’s time we extend our practice beyond the borders of our yoga mat.
Our oceans are dying and the biggest issue they are facing, aside from climate change, is plastic pollution. We are living in a time where we are being called to show up and show up well. As yoga practitioners, we are ready to take the next step. We dedicate ourselves to a practice of being the best version of ourselves daily. We are conscious of what we eat, think, and say—it’s time to up the anti and practice consuming consciously.
Plastic pollution is an issue that can seem astronomical and devastating, however when we break it down and look into it, the potential for change is obvious and becoming more prominent everyday. People around the world are coming together, developing exciting new products and inventions to help better our planet and reduce plastic pollution.
Below are some ways that we can switch to a plastic-free lifestyle with grace and ease:
1) Learn about the issue and find a reason that resonates.
When it comes to plastic pollution, it can feel overwhelming as there are so many reasons why we should eradicate plastic from existence. Scientists predict that there is more plastic in the sea than there are fish; that every day, globally, more than 8,000,000,000 kilograms of plastic enters our oceans—and never completely breaks down. In China, they have discovered plastic micro-beads in their sea salt shakers. Scientists are finding that a large percentage of the fish consumed by humans and the agricultural industry have plastic in their bodies.
Once we know the facts, we can look inward and sit with it; find a reason why making the switch to a plastic-free lifestyle would be beneficial on a personal level, as well as globally. Feel all the emotions that arise—anger, frustration, sadness, they’re all normal—but always drop back into the space of hope and empowerment.
2) Observe lifestyle choices we make daily.
We might be ocean crusaders without even realizing it! By observing the habitual choices we make daily—judgement free—when grocery shopping, grabbing a juice or coffee, or even when topping up on shampoo and conditioner, we are able to see where there is room for improvement, or what we may already be doing right.
Going plastic-free means practicing radical self-study and honesty. Be gentle.
3) Start small.
What can we really do without? What can we do right now? Don’t try and do it all at once. I repeat, be gentle. Start with the easy things, like switching to reusable bags when food shopping, or saying no to straws. Just like there is a process to learning more advanced asana, pranayama, and life in general, there is a process to going plastic-free. Understand this process and the switch to a plastic-free life will become habitual and sustainable.
4) Be prepared.
Keep a mug or reusable cup in the car. Have reusable bags ready at all times; if you forget them, buy less and carry it. Carry a non-plastic water bottle and refill it at any tap. If you plan on eating out, pack a container and fork so eating next to the ocean and not feeling guilty is possible! Be prepared to have a broken heart when saying no to the yummiest vegan cake if it comes packaged in plastic. Oh, and straws—always, always say no.
5) Farmers make the best kind of friends.
Get to know the local farmers. Not only are they normally legends, but they generally avoid those little stickers we forget are plastic. By buying from farmers, we support our local economy and avoid plastic packaging and nasty chemicals used in the process of mass farming. Also, find the local bulk food store. Most bulk food shops allow you to bring your own jars to fill up with plastic-free goodies. And definitely buy chocolate from the large selections available when bulk shopping.
6) Get creative and D.I.Y.
You know all those bathroom items, like toothpaste, that are wrapped in plastic but you can’t imagine there ever being a plastic-free alternative? Good news! We can make most of these things with ingredients from bulk food stores for a fraction of the price. There are plenty of online resources and recipes floating around, however the fun part is trial and error.
7) Personify satya.
Yes, plastic is more convenient. When starting our plastic-free journey, we will probably spend an hour in the bulk food shop deciding what sweetener would work best in our D.I.Y. toothpaste. Yes, we’ll make mistakes. We might get looked at like crazy people when we juggle our produce away from the shop. We’ll probably even become a little fanatical when we first begin. But it’s crucial to remember to be gentle with ourselves and others. Stay integral to the plastic-free mission. For best results, convey the cause through actions. Lead by example, and others will follow.
8) Join a beach clean-up.
There are organizations all across the globe that do weekly or monthly clean-ups on their beaches and shores. Clean Coast Collective, Responsible Runners, Take 3 for the Sea, Jala Yoga, and Sea Shepherd are a handful of groups doing amazing things here in Australia. It’s quite shocking to see the amount and type of debris we will find at a beach clean-up, but it’s a great way to connect with a like-minded community while saving a few turtles—and our oceans—along the way.
9) Tell a friend, or five!
Imagine how quickly and effectively we could spread the message if every yogi in the world told five people that they are going plastic-free, or posted a handy plastic-free tip every now and then on their social media platform. Now let’s go do it!
Author: Mollie Cox
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Supervising Editor 1: Danielle Beutell
Supervising Editor 2: Callie Rushton