I may be a bit cynical about greenwashing, eco-friendly marketing, and how corporations deal with Earth Day. It’s the one day out of the year where everyone pretends to care about the planet, the one day where people pledge to use less single-use plastics, where people pledge to reduce their carbon footprint, and where companies get away with greenwashing and screaming, “Our products are sustainable and eco-friendly!” from the rooftops and bringing in a lot more consumers because of their greenwashing and marketing tactics.
Despite most common Earth Day practices, marketing, and products being surface-level, Earth Day can be that cracked door open that leads people to more sustainable and eco-friendly practices in their life, and that includes witchcraft. Just because Earth Day is highly marketable, full of buzzwords, and full of eco-friendly and sustainable products doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t care about it. Earth Day is important.
What’s Earth Day?
Earth Day is an annual event that was created in the ’70s to help bring awareness to environmental issues. It was originally created as a teach-in event for universities and other places of education. In the ’90s, the coordinator at the time, Dennis Hayes, took Earth Day international and developed different events in 140 different nations across the world. This year’s theme for Earth Day is Invest in our Planet and you can find more information about Earth Day, this year’s theme, and any past initiatives on their website at EarthDay.org.
So, why Earth Day?
Why as a witch am I taking time to talk about Earth Day? Well, that’s because it’s really freaking important to me to be sustainable, or as sustainable as possible, to live an eco-conscious lifestyle whenever I can. I want to encourage other witches, pagans, polytheists, spiritual people — everybody actually, but that’s not my “target audience”. I want to encourage everybody to think about the different ways that they can live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Not Everyone Cares
First off, despite paganism being touted as an earth-centered faith or an earth-centered umbrella of a faith, not all pagans, polytheists, or witches actually care that much about the planet. I think — and this is just my own thoughts on it — I think some of it has to do with cynicism where we might feel like we’re just one person, what can we do, right?
But I think the other side of it is our society, our consumeristic capitalistic, “the earth is a resource not a gift” type of thinking. Not all pagans, witches, polytheists, or spiritual people find Earth Day or find eco-friendly living or eco-conscious living, or even sustainability, important to them.
A Note on Accessibility
I don’t want anyone to feel like you have to do any of these things, or even live a sustainable lifestyle, if that’s not accessible to you. Zero waste is a buzzword. Sustainability is a buzzword. Eco-friendly is a buzzword, right? They’re all generally seen as marketing tactics. I don’t want anybody to feel like anything that I mention is something you have to be doing if you can’t, you know?
There are people in the world who can’t afford to buy the most sustainable option or who have more important things to worry about. Sustainability and eco-conscious living should be accessible to everybody — that’s my opinion obviously, but it’s not. Not everybody can do all of these things because it’s not accessible to them and that’s okay. I don’t want anybody to feel bad that they can’t do something because they literally cannot do it. It’s not accessible to them.
One of my favorite eco-conscious YouTubers signs off of her videos with the phrase, “You cannot do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that you can do,” and I feel like that fits in perfectly here. Do what you can with what you have and don’t feel bad about what you can’t do.
Five FREE Things for Sustainable Witchcraft
Not everyone can afford to buy cool sustainable pieces for their craft or home. The best thing about these five things I’m going to share is that they are free (or mostly free) so you can help save the planet without hurting your wallet.
Ecosia – A Search Engine that Plants Trees
I ran across this search engine called Ecosia and I haven’t gone back to Google since! Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees when you search the internet. Their company was founded in 2009 and puts money back into the planet just by being used. The way it works is their ad revenue from being a search engine is put back into initiatives that are good for the planet. They are a B-Certified corporation which is a really important certification for a corporation to have.
Every month they post their profit reports and they show you a breakdown of where their money goes. Click here to see the latest. I really fully appreciate that sort of transparency because, not to name names of other search engines but like, what do they do, right? If I’m going to have to see ads in a search engine, at least by using Ecosia I know that the ad revenue is being put to good use. Their average breakdown says that it takes 45 searches to plant a tree. So when you’re researching your spiritual practice, when you are researching different spells or herbs or correspondences or folklore and history, use Ecosia. I guarantee you that in a week of searches you can plant a tree. It’s that easy. And if you’re already searching the internet you might as well use it.
Think Before You Buy
In her book Rebel Witch, Kelly-Ann Maddox discusses something she calls Magpie Eye. This is basically when you’re walking around or you go into a shop and you see all the shiny pretty sparkly things and you feel like you have to collect everything. Like everything is just so pretty you just have to have it, right?
So you become a collector of all of these things that eventually serve you no purpose. You just bought them and you have no reason for buying them, and that’s problematic. In my most recent podcast episode, I spoke with Betty (@thewitchfromthenorth) about the commodification of witchcraft and spirituality and that plays a big role here.
Today’s society is very much about hyper-consumerism and fast fashion, just buying all the things because you can. But hyper-consumerism doesn’t just hurt our pockets. Keeping up with trends doesn’t just hurt our pockets. I mean, if you think about the haul videos of fast-fashion company Shein (who is in hot water right now for stealing an artist’s designs) — people buy hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of Shein clothing because it’s super cheap and then turn around and donate all of it or throw it all away because they don’t like it or it doesn’t fit.
That doesn’t just hurt their pocket. They didn’t just waste a bunch of money on stuff they’re never going to use. The amount of carbon emissions that that takes, the shipping cost, the exploitation of labor of the people that made it — because honestly, how can someone get paid enough money to make a three-dollar shirt, right? That’s an exaggeration. I have no idea how much Shein actually costs. It doesn’t just hurt our pockets. It has an environmental impact, especially
if you just buy and buy and buy and buy for no reason other than just to buy it.
The same thing can be said about making purchases for your practice. I don’t want to discourage people from buying things that have a purpose, that have a use or reason behind them. That’s totally fine, but one thing I very much dislike is buying things just to buy them because you end up with a bunch of clutter. You end up with things that you don’t actually use. They will either end up in the trash, collecting dust, or you’re going to donate them.
I really encourage everyone to think about the things that they’re going to buy before they buy them. Don’t just buy things because you think it’s pretty. Don’t get sucked into the idea of a collector’s item and something being exclusive, you know? Those words, they tug on us and make us feel like we’re missing out on something. But if you don’t actually need it and it serves no purpose then don’t buy it.
So just a little bit of forethought, I guess, before you make purchases, especially if you’re buying new. And that leads me to point number three.
Secondhand, Thrifting, and Buy Nothing Groups
When you can, shop secondhand. Shop at thrift stores. Check out your local Buy Nothing groups if you have them in your area, and get things used. Now obviously this isn’t going to apply for everything, but within our witchcraft community, it’s totally fine to go to the thrift store and see something that you like that you might need in your practice and get it.
And when you buy it from a thrift store, you are giving it new life. You are repurposing it and you are subsequently not creating more demand for more new products. I think — and I haven’t done any research on this. This is just me speculating off the top of my head — but I think if we were to take everything that was ever donated to a thrift store, we probably wouldn’t have need to buy anything new.
I can walk into a thrift store and there’s just so much stuff. There’s so much stuff! And I know half the stuff that’s donated doesn’t even make it to the storefront. It doesn’t even make it into the store. It gets thrown away or employees take it first or what have you, but it’s 100% okay to shop secondhand, to buy things from thrift stores, to even swap or borrow things from other witchy friends.
That’s okay, and I think if you do need to buy something new or you do need to buy something that you can’t find at a thrift store, your next option if it’s available to you again, is to buy from your local community. Buy from a small business. If you don’t have anybody in your area that sells what you’re looking for, buy it from someone that makes it. Buy it from an artist or a creator. Support the small businesses before you resort to supporting larger corporations that really don’t care about us and they really just want our money.
Stop Burying Your Spells
Stop burying things in the earth. Stop throwing things in bodies of water or sending them downstream or anything like that. I can’t tell you how many times I have read in a book that has spells in it that suggests putting jars in bodies of water or burying jars or other non-biodegradable things in the earth. Stop doing that.
I am sure we now have more options available to us. We don’t need to bury things in the ground that aren’t going to biodegrade, that aren’t going to break down and replenish the soil. If you need to bury something and you absolutely don’t have an alternative, get a pot of dirt and bury it in a pot of dirt. And you know, if the spell is to bury something by your front door, put the pot of dirt by your front door with some flowers on top or something. That is an alternative. That is earth contained in a pot and you’re not actively harming the soil of your home.
But we seriously, seriously need to stop littering our planet for our witchcraft purposes. It’s not necessary. And of course, I’m not speaking from any sort of cultural context where that’s part of cultural practice. I can’t and I have no business speaking about things like that so I’m not going to, but just in general, I really think that people should stop burying things in the ground that don’t belong there and putting trash in the water — ocean, lake, river, pond, what have you.
It doesn’t belong there. I’m pretty sure that we have better alternatives for spells that require something like that.
Grow Your Own Green Things
Grow your own herbs. Grow your own food. Grow your own flowers. Grow your own whatever you can, basically. There are a few reasons for this. One, it cuts down on having to go to the grocery store, the metaphysical store, or the botanica if you are capable of growing your own herbs and supplies at home. It’s also a good way to help you learn about replenishing the soil and how different plants deplete the soil of different nutrients, how different plants replenish the soil, soil breakdown and composition, soil pH, and how plants grow and how they can thrive.
In my experience, growing my own food has given me a new appreciation for the food that I eat, the supplies that I use, and the land that I live on. It has helped me understand the interconnectedness and really shifted the way I approach my land, my garden, and the food I buy or grow.
I also think it’s a really good way to connect you with the cycles of life, death, and rebirth if that’s something that’s important to you, but also to the cycle of the seasons in your area. Because let me tell you, learning the seasons in Florida, learning what grows here when has been an adventure because it was the middle of December and I’m planting and harvesting in my garden. In parts of the northern United States, it’s still covered in inches of snow and ice! So it’s definitely helped me gain clarity on how the cycles of seasons work where I live now in a place that I wasn’t born and that I don’t have that much experience living in yet.
It’s also super easy to do pretty much anywhere. You can have a little pot of herbs on a windowsill. You can have a container garden on your patio. If you’re like me and you have space, you can have a full-blown vegetable garden in your backyard. Obviously, this is going to depend on the space that you have available to you, but even just a small container, a small pot that has one plant in it can help you connect deeper to the cycles of nature and get you closer if you feel that sort of disconnection.
It’s also pretty good for the planet because you are cutting out one person’s need for consuming products that are sold in stores. Granted it’s one person, but again, we can do a lot just for being one person.
Earth Day shouldn’t be just one day. Earth Day should be every day. We should care about the future of our planet every day of the year. What kind of world am I leaving for my daughter? What kind of world am I leaving for my daughter’s children if she decides to have kids in the future? What kind of world am I leaving for the kids 10 generations from now?
I mean, the burden doesn’t all fall on my shoulders of course, but I still am capable of doing something, and I think even those smallest actions, while they may be so small to me and they may seem inconsequential, they matter. They matter to me, they matter to the planet, they matter to the wildlife in my area, and they matter to the people 10 generations from now.
It’s up to us as individuals to hold ourselves accountable but it’s also up to us as individuals to hold corporations accountable for what they’re doing and what they’re not doing. It’s up to us to hold the government accountable for the things that they’re doing and the things that they’re not doing.
“Blessed are those who plant trees knowing they will never benefit from their shade,
for these people care for the lives and comfort of their children and their children’s children.”
Be kind to one another, do the best you can with what you have, and make every day Earth Day. She is our only home and we have no plan B.
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