As you start to become more aware of yourself, your thoughts, your compulsions, your moods, you might also start to notice the connection between what you think and what you do. Your unconscious thoughts are manifest in your actions. Maybe you’re down about the ending of a relationship. You don’t feel good enough. You go shopping. That lovely dress will make you feel better – more lovely, more lovable, it brightens you, it suddenly makes you feel enough. For a while. You’re trying on a new identity, but it only lasts till the dress hits the back of the wardrobe. And you forget that new, good-enough you. The wardrobe is creaking with momentary shifts in consciousness, when you were someone else for a short moment, someone whose heart wasn’t breaking.
What is the connection? Buying stuff you think you need that quickly becomes something you don’t need. The environmental impact?
- Waste disposal? – one more contribution to overflowing landfill or transportation via charities to a sorting centre, then distribution to shops or other countries (carbon emissions). On the good side, there are benefits to the Salvation Army who recoup 1/20th of what you spent (why not just give them the £100 you wanted to spend on the dress instead of buying it, and make yourself feel even better? At least you’d be doing some good with your cash!).
- More storage space? You’ll soon be needing bigger cupboards, a bigger house, moving to a housing estate that spreads out over the countryside. Your bigger house will need that bit more heating, use more energy, emit more carbon dioxide, increase the chance of global warming that tiny bit more (why not buy a sweater and wear it rather than heating the house – no-one’s going to be looking at you anyway!)
- The smart paper bag you get the dress in – non-recyclable because it’s made from mixed materials, sent to landfill rather than recycled, toxic inks leaking into the water table
- Biodegradability? If the dress is polyester, or any other fabric made from an oil derivative, the odds are it’s not biodegradable, though the chances of you asserting your buying power and intelligence and choosing a biodegradable dress while in the depths of depression are fairly slim. The dress, even if you chuck it out, will outlast your next several love affairs. Out of sight is not out of mind.
- Resource depletion? If the dress is cotton, you will have caused the consumption of around 5,200 litres of water and a third of a kilo of chemicals. Did you know that conventional cotton is chemically dependant, needing pesticides and fertilizers to grow. It accounts for 10% of all agricultural chemicals and 25% of all pesticides used worldwide every year. And the people tending the cotton can be affected by acute or chronic toxic poisoning leading to illnesses such as neurological problems, learning difficulties, reproductive defects, susceptibility to cancer and changes to DNA. So, if you are going to hit rock bottom after the bust up with your boyfriend, at least chose organic cotton and then others are less likely to suffer for your emotional state!
More food for thought:
- Do you eat more when you’re depressed – chocolate, carbs, Big Mac, processed rubbish – but never an apple? Read “Eat Your Heart Out” by Felicity Lawrence and find out how the food industry is impacting the planet.
- Do you drive fast when you’re angry? Anger is bad for your heart, but also uses up more petrol as you put your foot to the floor and try to overtake all the idiots who are driving too slowly.
- I know someone who, every time she falls out with her mother, goes on a cleaning frenzy in the house, using so much household bleach (the thick powerful variety, it seems to really kill germs and bacteria fast!) you can’t breath when you go inside. Sodium hypochlorite gives off toxic fumes that irritate your lungs. It is really dodgy for people with heart conditions, asthma or emphysema. In the workplace, the use of chlorine is regulated by legislation, but not in homes! It’s a serious air pollutant.
- Does reading about the latest gadget from Apple make your heart race? You could be one of the millions who are completely addicted to needing to have the latest technology. Not just any technology, but the latest. Millions of discarded mobile phones lurk in desk drawers, millions more chargers sit in boxes in hotel lost property cupboards. The biggest issue with all these gadgets , however, are the billions of electronic devices which are left on standby (and confess, how many do you have in your house now, compared to only 10 years ago?). A UK energy review in 2006 found that standby mode accounted for 8% of all domestic power usage. In America, it was calculated that wasted energy from electronic gadgets left in standby modes amounted to the equivalent of 18 working power stations! I don’t know how many tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions that would account for, but I’m sure if standby was banned overnight, global emissions would reduce by several percentage points.
These are all examples of how our emotional state can have a direct impact on the environment. As there are currently 7 billion people on the planet, all of whom have feelings, we can safely say that emotions can make a difference. So here’s some questions for you:
- How do you see yourself? What does your self-image drive you to do?
- How does your emotional state motivate you?
- Do you feel you can made a difference? Do you feel you have the power to make a difference?
- What will it take for you to stop for a moment and find the connection?