Monday, June 29, 2009

What does gaia mean?

What is this word—gaia?

For mythology buffs, Gaia (guy-uh) represents the Earth Goddess, Mother Earth—protector a
nd nurturer of life.

There is also the gaia hypothesis—an ecological hypothesis proposing that the biosphere and the physical components of the Earth are closely integrated to form a complex interacting system that maintains the climatic and biogeochemical conditions on Earth in a preferred homeostasis.

IN OTHER WORDS, everything is connected, and has an effect on everything else.

To ME, it’s a philosophy—the idea that all of us are connected.

I believe we are here to educate each other, to help one another, to
spread positivity, and to love as much as possible. It’s both energetic and also very tangible. Our choices have a ripple effect, that impact the world at large. We need to understand that small choices have big consequences.

Because, as a society, we have such a direct effect on the environment, this is the best way I know how to illustrate this.

An old friend of mine (whom I hadn’t seen in years) and I decided to attend a festival together. There had been a flurry of incidents prior to this trip that lead up to my ultimate “aha moment,” but the biggest inf
luence on my decision to reduce my plastic footprint stemmed from a conversation with my friend.

“Plastic is evil,” she said, “Every piece of plastic that has ever been manufactured still exists on the planet today.”

She proceeded to tell my about the Pacific Gyre, aka the Garbage Patch. It’s a traffic-jam of man-made plastic, larger than the size of the US, brought there on the ocean currents from the beaches on our planet. Today, the plastic continues to gather there, gaining in size day after day after day.

The entire eco-system is affected. As the plastic is broken down by photosynthesis, it decomposes into tiny toxic pieces. These pieces look like plankton, which are ingested by ocean creatures and birds. The animals either end up dead on our beaches or they cycle back into our food stream, and eventually, back into us, with high-levels of toxicity caused by the reaction of the sun hitting th
e plastic. The garbage patch is so large and unmanageable due to its slushy and grandiose content and location, it is likely nothing can ever be done to improve it.

I was inspired by this video. Immediately, I stopped purchasing plastic water bottles and began using recycled grocery bags every time I went shopping. It has even motivated me to bring lunch to work more often, since I generate way too much waste if I get lunch “to-go” too regularly.

Beyond the day-to-day stuff, I was inspired to create and share my knowledge with others—children and adults—through an “Environmental Stewardship” exhibit. Within a week, I had collected enough plastic from six different households to create a full-size plastic man—who became part of the installation. I was proud of my sculpture but even more so, I was honored to share the story, knowing that it was possible that plastic man’s existence had a long-term effect on one of the show-goers, just as my friend’s story had on me.

This philosophy—that ALL IS ONE—it goes so far above and beyond our relationship to the environment. It translates to all we do and all we are—community, philanthropy, volunteerism, and connecting—on a real human level—with others around us. The struggle of our families and friends today—it’s creating an opportunity for us to relate to one another on a level unlike ever before. I'm excited about the chance to make this a priority in my life. I hope you are too.

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Please consider others and maintain positivity in your posts. Mutual Respect. All is One. Gaia Groove.