Breathing February 11, 2011

Winter sunlight and shadow

“I look for what needs to be done. After all, that’s how the universe designs itself.”

R. Buckminster  Fuller

Never underestimate the power of compassionately recognizing what’s going on. –Pema Chödrön

Last night at a meditation group that I go to, the teacher suggested that when we wake up in the morning we pay attention to our first breath.  Was it an inhale or an exhale?–just that.  From there she went on to how we allow our day to unfold, being mindful as we go along and as we remember.  Breathing.  Breathing all of the time.  So, just in case you are curious, I woke on the exhale this morning.  The day is cool and sunny.  On the way back from swimming at the Y, I remembered to think about my breath again in the car. And I think to myself, ” All this is interesting, but what does breath have to do with my daily life?” And then an inner voice answers me quietly and very definitely –“Everything Bryant, just everything.”  Okay, so here we go.

After my last post which was also my first post of this new year, friend and fellow blogger Rebecca Currie asked me a big question–“So Bryant,” She said. “How did you do it?”  By this she is asking me how I pulled off a year without single-use plastic, which if you look around, you know is everywhere.

So Rebecca, here are the answers as best as I can figure:

1–I “did” it because I really wanted to.  I saw it as my job.  So I was vigilant.  I said NO to the plastic lids on cups and plastic straws as well.  NO to all plastic bottles in stores.  Have you noticed that many bottles look like glass, but when you really feel them, they are plastic?  NO to all styrofoam take out stuff.  NO to plastic bags in stores which are so easily given to us.  Lots and lots of “no-thank-yous” everywhere.

2–I went to my local farmers market almost every Saturday.  There I found produce unbagged that I could slip into my own bags.  Also, bread  and baked goods always packaged in paper, eggs–the list is endless here.

3–I brought my own bottles and tins to Whole Foods and they weighed them for me.  Then I could get many things from the bulk bins there.  Where I live we also have Weaver Street Market,  a co-op with bulk bins as well.  I would not have been as successful as I have been without these alternatives.

4–Cousin Monty’s Granola.  Making this up every 3 or so weeks, full of almonds and flax seed and many good things, meant whenever I was hungry and needed a boost it was there and it was good.  Really good.

5–I made my own yogurt.  This proved to be much easier than I had ever imagined and very good as well.

6–I carried my own steel water bottle.  To make this work I kept 3 in circulation in case I forgot, which was often.

The above are the basics as to how I did it.  And mostly how I am still doing it.  I am in a groove .  No stopping now!

As an experiment and to give myself a break–this month I bought a few things packaged in plastic.  These were a box of Cherrios, 2 snickers bars, and 2 boxes of crackers.  I enjoyed all of them–especially the

My January 2011 plastic detritus--missing the Snickers wrappers

Snickers bars–certainly all that high fructose sweet sticky stuff is a powerful drug.  I wanted to see what I was missing, plus, well, I am not perfect here.  What I really want to continue buying is, believe it or not, crackers, though even this may change as my young friend Lydia has begun to send a group of us passionate emails about her new found love of making flat breads, chapattis, Korean pancakes, the list is amazing.  (A note on packaged crackers here–the stuff inside the cardboard box is not waxed paper–It is made to look like it but it is NOT.  Try putting it in your compost and you will see that it does not decompose–yep– it’s plastic.)

Recently several people have forwarded this video to me of Van Jones speaking of plastic pollution in our world and its connection to economic injustice.  He makes a powerful case for our paying closer attention to how we use and dis-use plastics in this world.

He speaks of our addiction to disposability.  How we feel good about putting our plastic bottle in our little blue bin but do not consider the consequences of recycling this bottle, which is burning it, thus releasing very  toxic fumes into the environment.  Mostly this is happening in Asia where environmental air standards are much lower.  Because of all of this burning of plastics in Asia, the clean air gains of Los Angeles have been wiped out and are back to their pre 1970’s standards.  He challenges us to think of the very idea of disposability–of species, of raw materials, of people themselves–because it is the very people who work making and “recycling” plastic products that suffer the most.

The very air we breathe is suffering from our addiction to our use-it-once-and-then-toss-it mentality.  And all of us are breathing all of the time–every diatom, every cell, every species.  Inhale. Exhale. Repeat and repeat again.  To live, to be alive, we breathe.  Everyday, all of the time. Spiders, earthworms, palm trees, porcupines, whales and goldfish, monkeys, dogs and people– All species of everything alive on earth..all of us.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are moving back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.


elliott February 11th, 2011

bowing to you dear bryant

Kaferine de Nerve February 15th, 2011

i am reminded when i say to myself “i am doing the best i can” that i can stretch myself and do better.

John Morrison March 23rd, 2011

This is a great entry!

Sena April 7th, 2011

I just wanted to let you now that two weeks ago I had a sudden urge to give up plastic entirely… I live in Chapel Hill as well, and just today somebody tipped me off to your blog. I am doing some of the same things you’ve been doing, buying in bulk at weaver street and such. Very happy to see someone else serious about getting plastic out of their life! I just hope more people catch on 🙂

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