I recently visited Bali, Indonesia, and guess what – there was an acupuncturist in one of the small towns I visited!
One of the main concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine is that every small part is an integral part of its larger environment. This is reflected in the way we can use acupuncture on one part of the body to treat another part, or how we as humans affect and are affected by our ecosystem.
Bali was gorgeous. I was struck by both the beauty of the beaches and how much plastic trash floated freely in the surf.
I got to see how Balinese people traditionally ate and drank – serving food in banana leaf bowls, and fitting young coconuts with a type of spout made from part of the husk so that the coconut water could be poured right into the mouth. I saw a fruit that was inedible, but whose rind could be used as a bowl. There was no need for Styrofoam to go containers or plastic drinking straws – yet straws were some of the most prevalent things I saw floating in the ocean.
One of my fellow travelers, an Australian, commented on how the beach vendors used to be more diligent about tidying up the beaches each morning, and she expressed dismay that things had gotten so much messier.
But this got me thinking. Even if we are careful about picking up trash, it still has to go somewhere. Bali is a very small island – how much room could they possible have for landfill, and what would be the alternative? Putting trash in the ocean?
Long ago I used to joke about what I called “constructive littering” – throwing all our trash on the ground so that people will realize that trash is a problem, and hopefully inspire them to recycle, but more importantly, to use less. I never had the heart to actually do it, but I still sometimes think it’d be a great idea. When our trash miraculously disappears each week, going who knows where, it is easy to just ignore it.
I know there is no way to be perfect in this, but it’s worth making the effort to use just a little less, and recycle a little more.
So the small contributions I make are these:
I carry a stainless steel food storage container in my car at all times. I am rarely able to eat all the food I am served at restaurants, so I am prepared and don’t have to use a throw-away Styrofoam container.
I keep a stainless steel travel mug in my car, so I am prepared for any stop at a coffee or tea shop (some places even give a small discount if you bring your own cup).
As a great example of imperfection – the previous two examples are things are things I do from my car! And we all know that our cars are a huge problem, environmentally.
At home, I do vermicomposting – otherwise known as worm composting. My little worm pets get all of my fruit and vegetable scraps, tea leaves, and coffee grounds. Their compost is an amazingly nutritious fertilizer for my trees, yard and garden (and my friends’ gardens)! I learned everything I know about it here: http://www.redwormcomposting.com/)
Lastly, I take advantage of the city’s recycling program.
It doesn’t sound like much. But it is a little, and I hope it inspires you to do a little, too. The more healthy our environment is, the more healthy we can be.
Wising you the best in health,