In 2005 my guy and I left hectic Los Angeles for a simpler life in a sweet house near Hilo, Hawaii.
Our new life was a blessing and, I believe, the blessing of our yoga teacher Sri K. Pattabhi Jois who assured us, “Don’t worry soon you will have a house.” And through a sequence of insights and ingenuity we came to buy an affordable and lovely house in lush and rugged Pahoa, Hawaii.
Part of the year we lived on the island and taught yoga, made friends, shared meals and stories and remained awestruck by sky and land. We fixed up our dear place both indoors and out. We now had enough room to display an abundance of art collected over 10 study trips to India and I the inspiration to sew curtains and pillows from the global textiles I adored.
We surrounded our home with 25 new fruit and flower trees. Big Island earth is a mass of black volcanic stone gripped firm with a mesh of roots and dense gravel. We split the earth with a heavy stake, throwing it deep, then rocking the 3-meter iron rod to dislodge the stones. The stones we dug out encircled our plantings and in these dark damp holds we placed bananas, papaya, coconut palms, cherimoya, lychee, avocado, hibiscus, passion fruit and, in honor of our many trips to Mysore South India, a curry leaf tree just outside my kitchen window.
The other part of our year we travelled from the island to cities around the world to teach yoga, return to our Los Angeles students, and continue our studies in India with our wise and beloved teachers.
I visited India for the first time in 1995, and witnessed an astonishing super-saturated cultural feast. So different and seemingly disorganized I was impressed with the integrated systems for recycling and biodegrading. At market, spices, grains and fruits were packed in cones or sacks made from newspaper. Many women carried their steel canisters to market, had them filled and returned home. Butter was scooped into cups made from from dried leaves stitched together with slivered wooden pins. Weddings and festivals served meals on banana leaves or dried leaf bowls. When all this refuse went to the trash, it was hungrily enjoyed by cows, dogs and monkeys or burned in trash heaps. In North India chai was served in unbaked clay cups which were tossed to a pile that heaped high until the monsoon softened the shards back to damp clay ready for the potters wheel.
Plastic and styrofoam have replaced organic materials and now the rivers, forests, parks, and animals are choked with poisons and debris.
In Hawaii, truly one of the most beautiful places on our planet, the garbage of 1.4 million consumers is hauled onto barges and dumped into the ocean killing and endangering a vast marine world. The magnitude and reach of this system is horrifying. In my home, I reduced trash by not brining it in my door.
You’ve have heard me say, “Don’t lead a disposable life!” I mean it.
Rather, lead a rich life. Let’s prize our lives, communities, and planet.
Each and every time we shop, we have the opportunity, really a responsibility, to avoid excess and unnecessary waste relating to our purchases. Oversized packaging serves as an advertisement in the grocery store, an incentive to choose big brands. The brands actually purchase the shelf space for a big bang impact with their billboard size product display. We can shop to stop the junk we bring in the front door that is walked right out to the back door, and support our near and extended community. The consequence of buying food free from packaging is the adoption of a whole foods based lifestyle and kitchen.
A whole food is a just one thing. Whole unto itself. Papaya. Rice. Lentil. Squash. These are whole foods. Don’t worry , there is no long list of ingredients to decipher. We can also choose foods that are minimally processed and very close to whole like organic olive oil and nut butters.
As we adopt a whole foods lifestyle we begin to detoxify our palates and tongues and to taste the complex flavors of authentic foods rather than crave the boosted addictive zing of chemical additives. And slowly but surely these harmful chemical foods – leaders in obesity and diabetes – no longer have a hold or a place in our lives.
Here’s a playlist on smart daily detoxing.