Happy Earth Year

Ashland's Earth Day celebration is Saturday.

But, guess what? Every day is Earth day.

It's nice to take time to reflect on our habits and find out what others are doing to conserve — but we should take what we learn Saturday and apply it to every day for the rest of the year.

Ashland's big Earth Day gathering takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the grounds at ScienceWorks, 1500 E. Main St. The event is free and will feature dozens of booths, vendors and activities for kids and adults.

Here are my goals for this Earth Year, and some ideas for accomplishing them:

1. Buy less packaging.

For example, instead of buying pre-wrapped tea bags, sealed in a cardboard box and wrapped in plastic, I'm going to buy loose tea and a strainer. After the tea has steeped, the tea leaves can go in the compost pile.

An easy way to avoid packaging is to buy household staples in bulk, which I often already do. But instead of using a new container or plastic bag each time to transport the bulk food to my house, I'm going to start reusing the bags and bringing my own containers, such as mason jars, to the store.

2. Raise chickens and grow more vegetables.

I'd like to make my backyard into its own ecosystem. I'm thinking of using the chicken manure for compost, for example. I'd also like to keep my garden growing year-round, by paying attention to seeding times. This summer, I plan to try canning some fruits and vegetables so I can eat them in the winter months.

The more I can produce myself, the more sustainable my life becomes.

3. Simplify.

I believe one of the best ways to help the Earth is to use less stuff. Do I really need five different shower soaps and seven different yoga outfits? Wouldn't one or two suffice? I'm not going to throw away things that I still use, but when something wears out, I'm going to seriously ask myself whether I need to buy a replacement, or if I'd be just as happy going without.

Somehow in the last 50 or so years, manufacturers have convinced us that we need many products that humanity was perfectly fine without for thousands of years. Fabric softener, which often contains toxic chemicals, is just one example. Little do most people know, they can add just a half cup of baking soda to the wash to make clothes soft and eliminate the need for fabric softener.

4. Nurture the inner environment.

This step, I think, is most important. If we paid more attention to creating peace within ourselves and treating ourselves with kindness when we interacted with each other, those qualities would manifest. If we can stabilize our collective emotional and psychological environment, I believe we can make big progress in healing the physical environment as well.

To this end, I'm going to try to be kind to myself and do things that make me calm. I'll keep going to yoga class. I'll take long walks in Lithia Park. I'll make art.

A few months ago, I met a Buddhist traveler who had just attended a weeklong retreat in Eugene with a renowned monk. The traveler was kind to everyone he passed on the street, but he didn't talk much. So when he did talk, I listened. What he said has stayed with me because I think so much suffering in our world and environment could be avoided if we followed the traveler's simple advice:

"Remember to be good to yourself."

Happy Earth Year.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or hguzik@dailytidings.com. For past columns see dailytidings.com/ecologic.

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