Recently, non-violent environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion took to the streets of London to protest governments investing in fossil fuels. Regardless of your political affiliations, we can all agree that looking after our planet is good for everyone, human and otherwise! Here is an excerpt from Mabh Savage’s upcoming book, Practically Pagan: An Alternative Guide to Planet Friendly Living, considering ways of fighting the systems that contribute towards an unhealthy planet and global ecosystem.
I think some Pagans and spiritual folks may avoid intense environmental activism because they may be concerned that their practice may become too political. It’s easy to get bogged down in politics, which as we all know can be extremely divisive – a reason why many try to avoid it.
However, I think it’s important to remember that, as I said in the introduction to this book, environmentalism shouldn’t be political as we all need to live here, regardless of our beliefs. Sadly, green issues often become political issues, because of the policies that certain ruling bodies and governments put into place. Forests and ancient woodlands go unprotected from the relentless plod of “progress”. Our immense and beautiful oceans slowly fill with plastic while corporations who are the prime culprits in many cases receive tax breaks. Other companies fail to follow basic ethical practices while politicians turn a blind eye.
I’m not here to judge or make outspoken political statements. I’m not qualified to do so. But, I would hope that anybody who is following a spiritual path that is somehow involved in the care of our Earth would always look to those in power to see how they are treating the planet. This might mean governments, corporations, local leaders, or even leaders of community organisations. I find a good litmus test for any organisation is to see how they treat the world around them – and how they encourage others to do the same.
Using Your Power
Regardless of your views on magic or other supernatural forces, hopefully, you have at least two forms of power. One is you can vote, or if you’re not old enough yet, you soon will be able to. Use this vote wisely.
The second power you can wield is your money. We live in a mostly capitalist society. Where you spend your money has enormous power. If we all stop spending with corrupt corporations or businesses that won’t listen and do better, those businesses will eventually cease to exist. Look up the companies you love. Do their ethics sit well with your own? Are they producing sustainably? I’m not here to name and shame companies, but there are certainly plenty of resources out there for anyone looking to shop with a more ethical mindset.
Even if you don’t have spare cash to spend with companies who are supporting environmental causes or ethical production, you can exercise power in other ways. Share their advertisements. Review previous products from them. Leave comments on their social media. Your voice is more powerful than you know, and it’s a powerful form of magic to use your voice as a catalyst for change.
As I said, this book is not the place for political or social debate. I’m not here to tell you who to vote for or who to buy with, as my views on that could fill a whole different book! Come visit me on social media for that type of debate.
How you use your power is entirely down to you and your own personal ethics. Choosing leaders or local politicians is about weighing up everything that’s going on in your life and the lives of those you care about, against the policies on offer, and also seeing how those policies will affect disadvantaged folks. You never know when something might happen to leave you in a worse position than you are right now, so always vote for those who will help get you back on your feet should that happen.
I would always suggest you take a look at the green policies on offer. Does this party or organisation support the reduction of greenhouse emissions and other environmental impacts? Or, if you’re looking at a company, are their products ethically sourced and sustainable? These are the types of questions we need to start asking as a matter of course. It should no longer be a chore to get this information, as companies should be transparent and providing these facts upfront.
The fashion industry is a surprising example of action being taken to do the right thing for the environment. There is now a scheme to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals to zero during the manufacture of clothes and fabrics: The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals campaign which is working towards an industry standard of safer chemistry. Some really big fashion names have joined up, but again, you have to do a little research to find out who is certified to say they are a part of the scheme.
This might not seem like an inherently Pagan topic, but at the end of day we all wear clothes (sometimes!), so when you’re buying clothes it’s so helpful to see a certification on the label that reassures you that the materials used to make it were sustainable and ethically sourced. Wouldn’t it also be amazing to know that during the process of making the item of clothing, local waterways were kept clean and hopefully the air was not polluted? Or, perhaps, that any emissions were offset in some way? Look out for these certifications when buying a beautiful rug for your yoga room or your healing area, or the stunning robes that you need for ritual purposes, or special scarfs, bags, or boxes to keep your tarot cards or runes in.
What other ways can Pagans and spiritual people make a positive difference to our world? Mabh is available on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, and you can pre-order Planet Friendly Living now in America and the U.K. and Ireland.
About the Author:
Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.