Joining Forces For Collective Environmental Change

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

– Helen Keller

 

Hallowe’en is one of the best holidays of the year — a chance to pretend to be something we’re not, along with eating scads of sugary goodness, and seeing our friends emerge as horrific creatures or dead superstars. Sure, there’s commercialization, as with any major holiday, but Hallowe’en still feels like it has its roots grounded in embracing imagination and creativity.

It also means joining together with others, and witnessing peoples’ daring natures. Tonight, my friends are joining forces in a Skeleton Dance Flash Mob, at the historic Thapae Gate in Chiang Mai. Here, they’ll perform a ‘Skeleton Dance,’ which is essentially a time to break out your most awkward moves — and look totally odd, yet sort of wonderful simultaneously. Since I’m unfortunately house-bound due to my ankle injury, I’ve instead had lots of quality thinking time over this spooky holiday to reflect on these traditions. What’s arisen from this is how vital the concept of togetherness is.

 

No man is an island.

– John Donne

 

There has perhaps never been a quote so universally true. While we munch on yummy candy tonight, let’s take some time over the coming days to get back to the importance of coming together in collective unity in honor of creating environmental change, by healing our planet, and ourselves. Even though our own search for food is usually fairly straightforward, this is not the case for many of our world’s creatures.

For several years now, I’ve been following a dedicated, Seattle-based photographer, Chris Jordan, who has been chronicling the plight of the albatross birds who congregate on Midway Atoll (a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii). This space has tragically been appropriately re-named The Great Garbage Patch. Jordan has been documenting the direct affects our plastic consumption has had on these birds, whose babies he found lying dead in droves. Further investigation proved that they’d all died from consuming bits of plastic and other garbage, which had been fed to them by their parents. The elder albatross found these toxic pieces in the ocean, and had mistaken them for food.

If we stretch our minds and think like a bird for a moment, the sadly surreal nature of this situation becomes all too apparent: why on earth would a bird ever expect to discover anything other than natural, organic findings in an ocean? Our emotional and mental separation from our natural world has led to our ability to destroy our natural environments and, subsequently, our fellow creatures.

 

 

Jordan passionately describes how he feels upon witnessing the direct consequence of this destruction, in the tragedy of the myriad dead baby albatross:

“For me, kneeling over their carcasses is like looking into a macabre mirror. These birds reflect back an appallingly emblematic result of the collective trance of our consumerism and runaway industrial growth. Like the albatross, we first-world humans find ourselves lacking the ability to discern anymore what is nourishing from what is toxic to our lives and our spirits. Choked to death on our waste, the mythical albatross calls upon us to recognize that our greatest challenge lies not out there, but in here.”

 

 

 The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.

– Nathaniel Branden

 

What Jordan’s work has forced him to do is get up-close and personal with this difficult subject. Facing the effects of our actions is never easy, nor comfortable, yet necessary to move forward in creating environmental change. Taking some time to reflect on his work can help us to come to terms with our current reality. The photographer echoes my own sentiments on the matter:

“Simply allow yourself to feel whatever it is you feel about this, without jumping to the way to solve it. Because I think we really need to feel these things, even if the feelings are uncomfortable, because those are the feelings that will turn into the fuel and drive passionate action.”

In order to help fix this incredibly heartrending situation, we need to use our collective power to help heal our environments and living beings. However, we first need to come clean about how we really feel — the initial step of any long-term change is always to recognize, and then accept.  Decreasing our overall consumption, and choosing products that will not end up in the bellies of innocent, baby albatross — unintentionally killing them in the process — are small environmental changes that we can easily move forward with.

 

“The desire to change these things will put the human race on a journey to do so, and we are in the midst of it. (…) What can we do about this problem now? As much as possible, support eco-friendly products. Avoid being wasteful and purchasing new products each time a new version comes out simply so we can be up to date with the latest greatest.” — Collective Evolution

This is where products like the all-natural Soma water filter come into play, in a major way. We know by now that we all need to filter our water, and that we need to be making mindful choices about consuming environmentally friendly items that are sustainable in the long run. Thoughtful companies like Soma not only share these sustainable values and long-term vision, but they’re also intent on building community to help spread awareness.

Coming together in a unified collective is the way forward: starting from within, and reaching outward to spread the word will strengthen our individual abilities, and prove the old adage true — where there’s a will, there’s a way!

 

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.

– Thomas Merton