As Above, So Below

As an ode to the nourishment and beauty of nature we are focusing on an issue that is jeopardizing this paradise that we call home… Plastic-free July is an important reminder of our daily plastic consumption and a time to gain further awareness around what we can do to support the regeneration of our earth.

‘As Above, So Below’ is an ancient alchemic saying from the mouth of the original alchemist Hermes Trismegistus, who is thought to be the living embodiment of the ancient Egyptian God Thoth. These words, ‘as above, so below’, are related to the philosophy of holism. What we commonly perceive as dualistic in nature, such as the sun and moon, masculine and feminine, heaven and hell, are not separate things but together create a whole. Sun and moon create one whole cycle of a day. Masculine and feminine create one whole spectrum of mental and emotional qualities. Heaven and hell create one whole experience of the vicissitudes of life. With this in mind we not only come to perceive the body in its wholeness, rather than separate mechanical parts, but we also come to perceive that our external environment influences our internal environment. To further our understanding of As Above, So Below, we could say, As Outside, So Inside.

Our external environment is a reflection of our internal environment. In fact, every moment of our lives we are perceiving the external environment unconsciously via the hypothalamus in the center of the brain. From this perception and evaluation the master endocrine glands, pituitary and pineal, communicate with the rest of body in order to respond to and synchronise with the external environment. Our skin separates us from the external environment, creating a boundary between ourselves and everything else. However, this boundary is permeable. We all know that we absorb whatever we put on our skin but we also absorb whatever pollutants are in the atmosphere. More obviously, we absorb whatever we eat as the natural process of digestion, but we also absorb whatever pollutants are in our food. It is worth considering how much our consumption of plastic in our daily lives – from plastic bags, coffee cup lids, bottled coconut water or plastic wrapped super-foods, skincare bottles and jars – literally leads to the consumption of plastic through the air we breathe and the foods we eat.

Plastic is a crucial issue for our internal health and the health of our external environment. Here are three simple facts to remind us of why we need to have a vigilant  focus on this issue such as with Plastic-Free July:

40 percent of plastic produced is packaging, used just once and then discarded.

Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.

Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.

Sea creatures are consuming plastic as a source of food, such as the whale that died on the shores of Thailand in June this year because it had consumed 80 plastic bags! This is a crude example and a rude awakening but what about all of the micro particles of plastic in the ocean that we cannot see? Plastic has become an unavoidable food source for every sea dwelling creature, and if we consume sea creatures then it is an unavoidable food source for us too. Even if we do not consume creatures of the sea we certainly consume foods that are heavily packaged in plastic, and we know that plastic particles leach into the food or liquid that it is in contact with. We drink water that is contaminated with micro-plastic fragments, there are also micro-plastic particles in the air we breath.

As above, so below…

What is plastic doing to us physiologically? There is a lot of research going into this matter, and although there is a lot more to investigate, there are insights into how particular constituents in plastic effect the endocrine and immune systems. This is commonly associated with female and male hormonal imbalances, obesity, allergies, and inflammatory conditions. The most commonly studied chemical constituent of plastic is BPA (bispherol-A), and so now we have access to BPA-free products such as drinking bottles. This has been a good way of bringing plastic toxicity awareness to the public, however, lets not be fooled by another product that claims to be better for our health, when in fact these products are still plastic! Where do you think these new BPA-products will end up in 5 years time? Most likely in the ocean with all the other plastics that take hundreds of years to decompose.

Now that we are gaining a clearer perspective of how our world full of plastic is effecting our internal and external environments, what can we do about it? Who is responsible? Companies who produce plastic? Yes, however it is not within a companies interest to stop producing a product that is the main source of its income. Who is a company anyway? A company is not a person, not a human being with thoughts, emotions and morals. Although perhaps it should be, because after all a company is not an entity in itself but a production run by human beings. We cannot rely on companies to change the way we consume, only we can change the way we consume. The responsibility is with us, the people. You, and I, and us.

The more we learn about the destructive realities in the world the more we tend to become numb or dis-empowered, because after all, how much of a difference can I make on my own? Well, I am one voice that is in unison with hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands of others who share the attitude of hope. Hundreds of thousands of us are reclaiming our power to change the world by the choices that we make. And it is not about being a raging activist. You do not need to go picketing outside your parliament doors to make effective changes in the world (although you absolutely can). It is also not about persecuting others for not knowing what they do, we all consume plastic in varying degrees whether we choose to admit it or not. We are all in this together. Reclaiming our power to create meaningful change in the world first requires that we bring our attention to our own daily choices, habits and even attitudes.

Choice. It can be as simple as using your purchasing power to support local companies and businesses that are actively seeking to adopt more sustainable practises that are not reliant on plastic.

Habit. It can be as easy as using a glass or ceramic up for your takeaway coffee, or taking a cotton bag with you to collect your groceries. More than this, it can be as easy as buying bulk nuts, grains, cereals, seeds, beans, peas and dried fruit in brown paper bags to avoid all the small and excessive plastic packaging.

Attitude. It can be as humble as acknowledging that perhaps we do not need all of the things and stuff that mainstream social media and advertising train us to believe. If we each purchased one less plastic thing a month I wonder what impact this would have on the landfill and the ocean?

Becoming a witness to the destruction we see in the world does not need to be paralysing, it can be an opportunity to reconnect with the natural world. It can be an opportunity to claim your right to be a powerful co-creator in the future of our world. It can be an opportunity to make effective changes to the health of the external environment. And in doing so it becomes an opportunity to realise that you can make effective changes to the health of your internal environment. You can transcend the all to common doom and gloom that we witness in the world by remembering that we live in a world that is becoming more and more connected. The gap in social and environmental relations that led to the destruction we see today is becoming smaller and smaller. We live in a very exciting time where we are beginning to remember our interdependence with the natural world. And I, for one, am hopeful.

 

 

Here are a few reference sites for your perusal…

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/plastics-facts-infographics-ocean-pollution/

https://plasticoceans.org/the-facts/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/03/whale-dies-from-eating-more-than-80-plastic-bags

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(17)30121-3/fulltext

http://iciscenter.org/plastics-and-their-impacts-on-human-health/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2713042/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3299092/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2901120/

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/plastics-facts-infographics-ocean-pollution/

https://plasticoceans.org/the-facts/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/03/whale-dies-from-eating-more-than-80-plastic-bags

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/28/teabags-plastic-free-co-op-eco-friendly

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