You’ve probably heard the term “slowing living” before– a possible antidote for our rushed, frantic society. Right now, it’s a radical act to stop and smell the roses. As Charles Eisenstein, author of The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible said in a phone interview, “Really what [slow living] is advocating for is that when it is time to be slow, be slow. And when it is time to be fast, urgent, and forceful, do that, and learn to recognize the difference. I think that in our culture, we are habituated to always be doing things fast and efficiently and forcefully … So we get into a pattern of urgent action, even when it’s not appropriate…”
Slow living is a green lifestyle that finds methods to reduce the speed of everyday life, especially the ways we travel, eat, and spend money. This slowing down is beneficial to the planet as well as our bodies, minds, and spirits.
According to Wiki SlowLife, “The concept of slow lifestyles started with the slow food movement, which emphasizes more traditional food production processes as a reaction to fast food emerged in Italy during the 1980s and 1990s. Slow food and slow living are frequently, but not always, proposed as solutions to what the green movement describes as problems in materialistic and industrial lifestyles.”
April 22nd is Earth Day, a day chosen 50 years ago in order to bring awareness to environmental initiatives. Senator Gaylord Nelson, a junior senator from Wisconsin, was inspired by the anti-war movements of the time, and wanted to create a movement that would bring more consciousness to air and water pollution. You can read more about Earth Day and check out their amazing timeline of historical events here!
How are Slow Living and Earth Day Connected?
Many aspects of our frantic, hurried lifestyles harm our environment. For those of us who travel, our cars, planes, and Ubers all contribute to air pollution. Our food and coffee on the go (plastic containers, disposable water bottles) contribute to landfill waste.
Awareness of the earth means paying attention to the world around us, which is impossible without slowing down! However, slowing down is hard when working many jobs to pay the rent. There’s a link between capitalism and our “fast living” that will take time, effort, and awareness to undo.
To be bioregionalism activists, connected to our earth and willing to fight for her means slowing down in various ways. By learning about plants and animals in our local environments, by choosing to cook for ourselves when we are able, by taking time away from screens– we can feel connected to our earth and incentivized to do whatever we can do to make lasting change.
As Jenny Odell writes in her book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, “If I had no choice about the age in which I was to live, I nevertheless have a choice about the attitude I take and about the way and the extent of my participation in its living, ongoing events. To choose the world is… an acceptance of a task and a vocation in the world, in history and in time. In my time, which is the present.”
We are alive during a time when we are quite literally being forced to slow down due to COVID-19. We are home, most likely cooking most of our meals, not driving, and producing less waste!
While we all can’t wait for the quarantine to end, we might consider ways to continue protecting our environment. Since this virus has forced us to slow down our normal ways of living, air and water pollution has begun to clear up, and many animals have returned to previously abandoned habitats.
Below are some slow ideas to consider this earth day!
The slow food movement popularized the slow living movement, so it’s a wonderful place to look for guidance. Cooking from scratch is a great place to start– it reduces packaging and nourishes your body! If you normally buy bread, try making it yourself (same for sauces, drinks, and other condiments). If you can access nature spaces, you might also think about learning to forage! For some recipe ideas, click here.
Now is a beautiful time to support local farmers– you can subscribe to a CSA box or farm share. Many local organic farms supply restaurants and work at outdoor markets during the spring and summer, and many are worried about their income this year! Fresh vegetables taste delicious, and a farm share is a beautiful way to eat food that grows where you live.
The slow food movement also extends to how you eat– try setting the table, making time for a poem or prayer at the beginning of a meal, and avoiding technology while eating.
If we are going out right now, most of us are walking or biking to get to where we need to go. This way of movement is certainly slower than driving, flying, or even taking public transportation. How far we can go in a day is limited. However, a smaller travel circle allows you to connect to the landscape and businesses around you and reduces environmental pollutants.
Abstaining from flying as much as possible is a massive help to the environment, as air travel makes up 2.5% of all CO2 emissions per year ( less than power plants). For example, a round trip from LA to New York flight produces more C02 than the amount per person allotted per year for a stable climate, according to FlightNook (whose carbon footprint calculator can help you to find ways to be “carbon neutral” when traveling).
Walking and biking are slower alternatives of getting to where you need to go, but are nourishing for your body and nourishing for the environment! They allow us to take in our surroundings instead of speeding by.
When caring for yourself, focus on incorporating herbal products that avoid sulfates and endocrine disruptors, such as fragrance (that isn’t derived from essential oils). The less packaging, the better, so you might turn towards bar soaps for both body and hair! Products with compostable packaging are also a great choice.
Our skin is our bodies’ largest, most permeable organ, so avoid putting anything on your body you wouldn’t be comfortable eating! You might consider making your deodorant, toothpaste, and shampoo with household ingredients (Youtube has some great tutorials). If you’re still considering purchasing, check each product’s score on the EWG comprehensive database.
There are so many ways to slow down this Earth Day! Comment other ideas you have or will be practicing in the comments below.