This is not the post I imagined I would write this week, but the truth is, I am overwhelmed. It’s only temporary, I know, but as I try to make a gentle living, tend the still ripening garden and the rest of life, and slowly put together this movement…it’s all swirling. While I wait for it all to settle out a bit, here is a post I wrote for Wisteria & Sunshine almost eight months ago (I called it “small ways, large ways”) when I was trying to get to same message I have today…when you don’t know where to turn, or where to begin-to simply think of the trees-in all that we do-might be the best first step. I’ll add some new thoughts at the end…
Small Ways have been a part of Wisteria & Sunshine from the very beginning. In fact, the page where I introduced them was created a month before I opened the doors here, in January of 2012. They will always be valuable and integral to what I see as a life of wild simplicity & deep domesticity…
“with less plastic, less thrown away, less to care for and store, less time spent consuming and more time enjoying the beauty and tactile pleasure of more traditional and earthy things and ways.”
These ways bring peace, influence others and do make a difference. But when I wrote about Small Ways nine years ago, we didn’t realize how dire the climate crisis was…how imperiled the plants and seas and creatures of all sorts-including us-truly are. And all that the zero-waste practitioners and other conscious folk have been doing isn’t changing the shops and chains and corporations as quickly as we might have hoped when these approaches began…or as they continue on.
And I wonder if, like me, you have found some of these approaches very difficult to live out, at least, without it taking more time and money than can be spared? Or at the cost of bodily energy and mental health? That sounds a bit dramatic, but depending on one’s circumstances (and local) it can become a complicated, unsustainable practice. All the times I have started a conversation in the stores I frequent, asking about how the loose, organic apples arrive at the store and where they come from…what they do with packaging afterwards…then weighing that against the more affordable organic apples in the plastic bag. Just one tiny example.
Lately, with all I have been hearing and learning, I’ve decided it is important-imperative, in my opinion-to add some Large Ways to our lives. Discouragement is probably what has most moved me in this direction, along with all that scientists are finding and sharing. I am just not confident that enough people, companies and governments will begin to care for the planet (in the ways it needs and deserves) quickly enough. As much as love and honor Mary Reynold’s new movement that is her response to the urgency, I see how difficult it will be to gather momentum. So much more understanding is needed…even within my own household! So.
While we go on finding and deepening with all of the Small Ways we care for the earth, some Large Ways may help keep her going (and us) while all of the individual, personal caring takes root. And it seems to me, to focus on trees is a simple, worthwhile path. If carbon emissions aren’t going to be lowered as quickly as they ought to be, let’s protect all of the trees that exist now and plant more and more and more. They will reduce emissions for us, lovely beings that they are.
I already give monthly to treesisters.org, in Wisteria & Sunshine’s name, but will be giving monthly to conservation.org so they can plant and protect even more than they do already. Have you taken the carbon footprint quiz there, that I linked to in our ebook? It is illuminating. My carbon footprint is equal to what 237 trees can offset, annually. I didn’t include Doug’s driving (with a Prius, thank goodness, but still…) because I don’t have those numbers yet. All of the helpful tips at the end of the calculator, I already do, but they may motivate you if you haven’t thought about or acted upon meat-eating or travel and many other facets of life.
Listening to Robin Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass as I tried to fall asleep last night, she spoke about the basketmaking by the local tribe and the respectful practices they use from the felling of the ash tree (or not, if they don’t perceive permission) to the weaving. She spoke of our almost total disregard for paper and what went into the making of it, and I was in tears to think how little progress has been made in this way of caring for the earth. The trees, again. Agriculture and all it’s terrible impacts (and hope for turning things around if it can become regenerative and circular again) are destroying forests…all of the needless construction that goes on…the logging…and the trees that are dying across the planet because of acidic rain and chemicals. We owe so much to these wise and wonderful beings and if it makes the Large ways simpler to approach to have one focus, perhaps this should be the one.
Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them. Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer.
Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
In honor of our focus on caring this month, it would be encouraging if you would share your thoughts on Small Ways and Large Ways…if you’ve chosen a Small Ways focus this year?…what is challenging and what is rewarding with all that we are called to do…
And in October, I am thinking that to remember the trees, in all we do might look like…
-giving as much as you can, as often as you can to groups whose mission is to protect and grow the forests of the world. I gave links to two in this post. Please share any others that you know are doing this!
-being more thoughtful about your use of paper (for home office use, for crafting, for the bathroom, for the kitchen, and so on.) This is a longtime focus and passion of mine. Use what you have, for a start, then when you need more, buy only tree-free, 100% post-consumer recycled paper or use alternatives.
-stop buying new magazines and books. In the U.S. alone, more than 30 million trees are cut down a year to make printed books. Add magazines and newspapers and it is mind-boggling. So much waste. And there is no excuse for it as there are wonderful completely recycled papers out there especially made for this. If there are magazines you feel you can’t live without (I used to feel this way!) contact the makers and demand they change. This is the sort of large way (going beyond our own households) that I am working on to share here, to make it easier and more impactful.
-honor, appreciate and protect any tree you come in contact with. Express your love and gratitude for all that they give. Learn more about them (there are so many books available at the moment-at your library!-about the lives of trees. They are so much more like us than we ever knew and it is my secret hope that all they do for us will end up saving us, if only we would let them more of them live and thrive.)
That’s what I’ve got for now. I need to get to work in my studio, designing some more tree-free alternatives for calendars, planners and stationery. : )