by guest author Elissa Jordan in honour of Blog Action Day 2010 | Water
Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action.
Everything you do in this life carries with it a weight. The food you eat, the transportation you choose, how well you remember to turn off the lights and even what’s in your wardrobe. These are the footprints you leave behind as a result of your choices. And in a world as fragile as ours we each need to tread lightly.
As yoga has been embraced by the Western world and has entered the mainstream of society our capitalist culture has latched on and given us props, shoes, books, DVDs and clothes, clothes, clothes. When I practised in London, UK there were times when I felt like I was part of a fashion competition more than a yoga class, with everyone decked out in their bamboo, cotton and Lycra best.
Having a wardrobe just for my yoga practice seems an unnecessary luxury. And when looking at the price tag attached to these exclusive items designed to make my yoga practice more comfortable, I’m happy to stick with my old t-shirts and shorts. But that’s just me.
That I’m able to reuse elements of my wardrobe that have outlived their usefulness to keep me covered when I’m on my mat helps my wallet but has the added benefit of helping the world as well. Because it’s not just that marketers and advertising tells us we need separate tops and bottoms to suit every activity of our day from asleep to awake, relaxed to active, but it’s also a matter of what goes into creating these vast wardrobes we each need.
How much water does it take to make:
- To grow the cotton needed for one pair of jeans you’re spending 1,800 gallons of water
- For your cotton t-shirt you’re looking at 400 gallons of water
- Even when you’re not wearing cotton the dyes and synthetic fibres used to make your clothes create waste that contributes to water pollution
How to lighten your fashion footprint:
- Never throw anything away: when clothes lose their usefulness donate them to charity, cut them up for cleaning rags, meet up with friends for a swap, give them to your local creche for dress-up, or make do and mend.
- Line dry your clothes as much as possible and limit your ironing to only when necessary. Both of these things will drastically reduce your environmental impact. Machine washing, tumble drying and ironing equates to 240kWh of energy per year.
- Wash your clothes in cold water when possible as having to heat the water for laundry uses more electricity in a year than leaving the refrigerator door open 24 hours a day for an entire year
- When you do need to buy something new invest in something that will last, change your habits from quantity to quality and decrease your fashion footprint
- And look for more natural fabrics and natural colour practices, it’s no good to get a bamboo t-shirt if it uses the same old wasteful dying practices
All of this melds beautifully with the yogic lifestyle. The five yamas of Pantanjali are: non-stealing, non-violence, non-covetousness or non-possession, non-lying and physical continence. The concept of non-possession, or Aparigraha, means that as you seek a higher state of being you further yourself from material possessions, from worldly associations and ties. By letting go of our possessions and our insatiable need of things we ‘want’ living on only what is necessary and important.
What we need to live each day is food, shelter and of course water. Everything else is a luxury and it’s up to you to decide on your priorities: a fantastically tailored, brightly coloured outfit to wear when you come to practice on your mat or a habitable world for your grandchildren, great-grandchildren and mine.
A British guy has come up with a fun little toy that helps you calculate the impact your wardrobe has on the earth. It means counting up the contents of your t-shirt drawer and your pants drawer and dividing everything up by the fabric it’s made of, but it does drive the point home quite effectively.
It’s not just about greening-up a little or riding the latest trends. Water has become an issue to the point that people are waging wars against each other for access to more of it. Due to poor sanitation and sewage-contaminated drinking water and the diseases related to unsafe water kills 42,000 people a week around the world.
It all comes back to the same message. We don’t live in a throw away world. Your choices have consequences. Although it’s not much fun, it is reality. Take a minute to think about the changes you can make. You’ll help protect the Earth.
When she’s not earning a living as a Digital Marketing Manager with a leading New Zealand charity, Elissa is a belly-dancing, blog-writing, cycle-commuting, vegan-cooking yogi.
She started seriously following a regular yoga practice about three years ago after several start-stop attempts. Never one to give up on something she cares about, yoga and Elissa are now crossing paths on a daily basis.
Elissa is new on the Wellington yoga scene having recently immigrated from Canada by way of London, England. She’s looking forward to the day AcroYoga makes it to New Zealand and has brought with her teaching qualifications from the British School of Yoga, A.M. Yoga and the Sivananda Vedanta Ashram in Neyyar Dam, India.