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Living a Simpler Lifestyle Closer to Nature
I’m thrilled to learn about brands that are trying to be less wasteful while also offering more planet friendly products. One business that is doing it well, is based in Margate, U.K. called Haeckels. It’s a skincare brand that creates natural and effective products that honor the earth while nourishing your skin. They are deep into sustainable business practices whether it’s creating packaging that is natural and compostable, to sourcing renewable ingredients locally to providing something unique and beneficial to the whole community (featured at the end of this piece). Even their soy based candles- each one is described in earthy terms- come in wonderful reusable glasses. I stopped by their store a few years ago, and it’s stunning.
This past Christmas, I received a gift set by Haeckels that was “grown to order.” Once your order is placed, the team at Haeckels manufacture the products and grow the mycelium packaging, which can then be returned to the biosphere through composting.
“grown to order” products
I reused the glassine packaging. It’s now an envelope ready to use
I love their community sauna. It’s free. It’s owned by all. A public space for health and well-being. Thank you Haeckels for being so inspiring!
On January 22, the world lost a huge lover of nature, Thich Nhat Hanh. The Vietnamese Thien Buddhist monk was the author of more than 100 books, and one of the pioneers of spiritual environmentalism. He was renowned for his advocacy of individual responsibility for such worldly concerns as the environment and nonviolence.
Emergence Magazine featured 10 Love Letters to the Earth by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Below is number 5, titled Heaven On Earth
Dear Mother Earth,
There are those of us who walk the Earth searching for a promised land, not realizing that you are the wondrous place we’ve been looking for our whole lives. You already are a wonderful and beautiful Kingdom of Heaven—the most beautiful planet in the solar system; the most beautiful place in the heavens. You are the Pure Land where countless buddhas and bodhisattvas of the past manifested, realized enlightenment, and taught the Dharma. I do not need to imagine a Pure Land of the Buddha to the west or a Kingdom of God above where I will go when I die. Heaven is here on Earth. The Kingdom of God is here and now. I don’t need to die to be in the Kingdom of God. In fact, I need to be very much alive. I can touch the Kingdom of God with every step. When I touch the present moment deeply in the historical dimension, I touch the kingdom; I touch the Pure Land; I touch the ultimate; and I touch eternity. In deep contact with the Earth and wonders of life, I touch my true nature. The exquisite orchid flower, the ray of sunshine, and even my own miraculous body—if they do not belong to the Kingdom of God, what does? Contemplating the Earth deeply, whether a floating cloud or a falling leaf, I can see the no-birth, no-death nature of reality. With you, dear Mother, we are carried into eternity. We have never been born and we will never die. Once we have realized this, we can then appreciate and enjoy life fully, no longer afraid of aging or death, nor caught in complexes about ourselves, nor yearning for things to be different than they are. We already are, and we already have, what we are looking for.
The Kingdom of Heaven exists, not outside of us, but within our very own hearts. Whether we’re able to touch the Kingdom of God or not at every step, depends on our way of looking, our way of listening, our way of walking. If my mind is calm and peaceful, then the very ground I’m walking on becomes a paradise.
There are those who say that in their heaven there is no suffering. But if there is no suffering, how can there be happiness? We need compost to grow flowers, and mud to grow lotuses. We need difficulties in order to arrive at realizations about them; enlightenment is always enlightenment about something.
Dear Mother, I promise to cultivate this way of looking. I promise to enjoy the practice of dwelling peacefully with mindfulness in the here and the now, so I can touch the Pure Land, the Kingdom of God, day and night. I promise that with every step I will touch eternity. With every step I will touch heaven here on Earth.
Thich Nhat Hanh is the subject of a documentary Walk with Me, a journey into mindfulness, narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch. I haven’t seen this film and look forward to watching it.
This is great news! Atlanta has created the nation's largest free food forest with hopes of addressing food insecurity. Thanks to a grant from the USDA Forest service and a partnership between the city of Atlanta, the Conservation Fund, and Trees Atlanta, there are now 7.1 acres of land ripe with 2,500 pesticide-free edible and medicinal plants only 10 minutes from the Atlanta International Airport. Thousands of pounds of food have now cropped up in the area where the closest grocery store was a 30-minute bus ride away. Learn more about it here
This past fall, I received my certification in medicinal plants through an intensive course offered by Cornell University. One of the valuable resources I learned about is Consumerlab.com. It is the leading provider of independent test results and information to help consumers and healthcare professionals identify the best quality health and nutrition products.
Did you know that the FDA's Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for dietary supplements allows each manufacturer to determine the quality standards and analytical methods it uses to evaluate the quality of its products. Some choose to use less specific standards and/or lenient test methods that can make a low quality product appear to be high quality. It’s often not until enough people get sick from taking a supplement that the FDA get involved.
Since the supplement industry is largely unregulated (skin care and beauty products are too), it’s important that each of us are aware and knowledgeable about any supplement we plan on taking, whether it’s advertised as natural, herbal or non-drug. If you do take vitamins, supplements, or herbal products, always read any safety labels that are included with the packaging and look for third party certification, such as the CL seal of approval.
I used Consumerlab.com to research turmeric powder, and found out that the brand I was using wasn’t one that was recommended. Ugh. The best turmeric to buy is by McCormick. It’s not organic, but has the highest concentration of curcuminoids, costs less and contains less filth (rodent hair) than others. Apparently, one of the best turmeric supplements is by a brand called Root2 Turmeric Extract curcumin C3.
I’m a big fan of Robin Kimmerer, and will leave you with a video called The Honorable Harvest - with narration by Robin Kimmerer. This video is part of a series called Seeding the Field: 30 Years of Transformative Solutions, which celebrates some of the best moments of the Bioneers conference through the last 30 years. I’m also a fan of Bioneers , a nonprofit organization that promotes practical and innovative solutions to global environmental and bio-cultural challenges. The organization operates within a philosophy that recognizes and cultivates the value and wisdom of the natural world.
Hope that you found this newsletter entertaining as well as nourishing for your spirit.
Wishing you and your loved ones all the very best,
Photographer unknown-(would love to know who took this)