Wouldn’t it be great to say of some great, earth-shattering event: “Ah, that was the moment in my life when I became aware of the Oneness of it all.” As silly as it may seem, my reverence for the Oneness came in a simple tote bag.
I don’t know exactly when I woke up to the fact that my lifestyle was contributing to the destruction of our environment. My shift in awareness came upon me gradually. It helped to make several trips to California where environmental issues are a priority. Unlike my community in mid-America, Californians in the San Francisco area are required to recycle their trash or be fined. They also have a steady news diet that reports on environmental abuses. Their awareness eventually led to the banning of plastic bags in San Francisco.
I can’t pass up this opportunity to share a few facts:
- Every year, between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide.
- Plastic bags tossed in our garbage break down into toxins that eventually contaminate our soils and waterways.
- Eliminating plastic bags would greatly decrease the use of fossil fuels that are used in the manufacturing of plastic bags. It’s been estimated that China’s ban on plastic bags saves 37 million barrels of oil each year.
- Other countries have successfully banned plastic bags. The Irish probably didn’t feel very lucky when they had to start paying 35 cents for every plastic bag obtained at the store, but six months later, that country was 95% compliant in using alternatives to plastic.
And what, you might ask, does all this have to do with Oneness?
As I looked around and realized that I do impact the world, my first response was to feel hopeless and helpless. But knowing that others are taking steps to heal our planet encouraged me. I could see that I was wrong to think “What difference does it make? I’m only one person.”
It was a struggle to use tote bags. I’d forget them in the car or leave them at home. But eventually, I trained myself. Then I became a sort of crusader, reminding my friends that tote bags were best for the environment. I began to feel smug about my new habit as I watched in judgment as other shoppers loaded huge numbers of filled plastic bags in their cars.
When I finally found some balance in my thinking, I found that my shift in consciousness affected my life in other ways.
Using a drizzle of water to rinse a sticky bowl so I would not affect the hot water flow of my husband’s shower brought on another aha moment. I pictured a woman in a third world country carrying a bucket to a stream to get water for her family, maybe not even clean, fresh water, while I gave no thought to the gallons of water I freely use just to rinse a few dishes. And, I learned that that drizzle of water was just as effective as a full blast from the faucet.
Reverence grew within me. I became more and more aware of the wonderful unity of which we are all a part. I see that my actions can either reflect that I care about this world and the people I share it with, or show that I see the world and other people as something to use and abuse.
Recently, reading from the Unity publication “Daily Word,” I came across this beautiful affirmation:
“I am keenly aware of the powerful connection I share with all inhabitants of Earth. I honor and protect the delicate balance necessary to coexist.”
Often during my morning prayer time, I greet all the people across the world who are also in prayer at that moment and invite myself to join with them as we pray together in our diversity for the oneness we all share in our desire for peace on earth.
It’s easy to feel powerless in a world that seems to be more divided every day. I take heart in the fact that when I work to stay aware, I catch a glimmer of the oneness of all life.
A MODEST ESTIMATE
If one person uses tote bags, that person eliminates:
- 6 plastic bags a week
- 24 bags a month
- 288 bags a year
- 22,176 bags in an average life time
It costs more to recycle a plastic bag than to produce a new one.
Rose Mary is a retired writer and public relations director who currently does freelance writing while she explores her spirituality, seeking ways to live more peacefully and respectfully on the planet.
Photo by Lucian McAfee