Victoria Satsang

Plastic Challenge in Victoria

Plastic Challenge in Victoria
"Nature is the wish-fulfilling tree that gives humanity all abundance.
But today, our situation is like that of a fool sawing off the very branch upon which he is sitting."  ~Amma
North America GreenFriends is challenging us all to reduce our use of plastic - within the next month - so we can tell Amma about it when we see her in Seattle.
Many satsangs are really rising to the challenge!
Oregon is having a beach clean-up day on March 24th and others have contributed ideas and photos to the Plastic Challenge Facebook page.
You can also take a photo of yourself or family trying out a plastic-free alternative, etc.
Send photos to Diya Heal at so she can post them.
In 2016 on the European Tour, as well as last year during the Santa Fe Q&A, Amma talked about the importance of reducing waste at its source.
Amma has said that mankind, at this time, is like the live frog in a pot of water being heated on a stove. Because the water heats only gradually, it keeps feeling safe and comfortable until it's too late.
Let's not be like that! Let's act while we can!
If you have ideas about how we can reduce our use of plastic, please send them to Tirtha at and she will share them with everyone else in future newsletters.
We can do this! Let's have fun with it!
Rema Devi, a senior disciple of Amma's, also reminds us that the campaign to reduce waste at its source (us) is in itself a spiritual practice, to increase awareness...
Let's make the most of this opportunity!
More about Plastic
“Every small effort we make towards environmental conservation is precious because it helps to sustain life. This is actually more precious than any kind of material wealth. 
Through our schools, we can awaken in our children an interest in protecting nature, just like the interest we have awoken in them for amassing money."  ~Amma

- The truth about 'compostable plastic' ... Compostable plastic sounds like a great idea. Naturally we expected it to mean it could biodegrade in our home compost pile. However, most 'compostable' or 'biodegradable' plastic will only break down in large-scale industrial composting. There, it is shredded, mixed, and kept at a temperature of about 40 degrees celsius -- much warmer than a normal backyard compost pile. The CRD food scraps program uses this kind of industrial composting, so we are permitted to use compostable plastics there. There are some promising new developments in biodegradables, but they are not widely available yet.

 - Instead of single-use plastic containers of shampoo and conditioner, try buying refillable kinds from a shop like the Soap Exchange, or using castile soap, which comes in a concentrate. Some people swear by using baking soda and vinegar, and even feel it leaves their hair looking better.

There are many recipes online for shampoos, conditioners, and even shaving cream that you can make yourself with simple ingredients. Check out this link for 10 shampoo alternatives: or this one by the same author for conditioner alternatives:

- A recipe for shampoo which can also be used as shaving cream:

- Some recipes for healthy alternatives to store-bought, single-use-plastic facial cleansers:
and there are many more online.

- Be aware of microfibre pollution: Synthetic fibres, used to make many of the clothes we wear, as well as other products -- fleece, polyester, acrylic, etc. -- shed tiny fragments when they are washed. Because the fragments are so small, they are not all caught by wastewater treatment, and end up in the environment. 

It is believed these tiny fragments are the single largest contributor to watershed plastic pollution in developed countries. They are also a significant portion of the plastic waste entering the ocean.

These plastics release toxins in the water or groundwater. They are also eaten by aquatic animals because they are the same size as the food they eat. They can cause gut impaction, hormone disruption, liver damage, and death by starvation when they cause an animal to feel full. 

More than 60% of our clothes are now made of synthetics. The demand for polyester is increasing faster than for any other fabric. We may want to think twice about the fabrics we buy. Natural fabrics like cotton, hemp, silk and wool do not create this problem.

(For more info, read:

- Next week - some good news from around the world! Remember, as anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

"We must strive as much as possible to recycle and reuse waste. Mother Nature has her own miraculous ways of recycling and reusing waste, thus preserving life. Let it be our aim to create a world with zero waste."  ~Amma

I promised some good news about plastic this week... Yes! The tide is slowly starting to change... 

- The EU plans to make all plastic either recyclable or reusable by 2030. 

- In 2016, the first bacteria that have evolved to eat plastic were discovered at a waste dump in Japan. Since then, scientists have isolated the enzyme produced by the bacteria, and accidentally made it more effective. They hope to increase its effectiveness still more, with the goal of breaking plastic down into its component parts so it will be fully recyclable and no more plastic will need to be produced.

- Even the Queen of England (reportedly a great fan of David Attenborough, the  narrator of the influential BBC TV nature series, Blue Planet II) has banned the use of plastic straws, plates and bottles on the royal estates. 

- Since 2005, an organization in Kenya called Ocean Sole has cleaned up over 1000 tonnes of discarded plastic flip-flops from Kenya's beaches. The 'conservation entrepreneurs' use the flip-flops to create sculptures, jewelry, doorstoppers, etc., and also provide steady employment for 150 people.

- Last month a British horticultural packaging firm introduced a new line of plant trays made from the pulp of recycled paper. Some UK garden centres allow customers to return their plastic trays for re-use after planting what they've bought.

- Companies in various countries, are introducing biodegradable packaging alternatives: 

In India, Narayana Peesapaty makes an edible spoon made of millet flour.
In Poland, Biotrem makes edible wheatbran plates.

In Indonesia, a company called Evoware recently introduced an edible seaweed packaging that can wrap a burger or noodles.

In the US, Loliware has introduced an edible seaweed cup, and is working on an edible straw.


- And in Canada last November, Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on the federal government to develop a national strategy to tackle marine debris and create a fund to help pay for shoreline cleanups. 

The environmental group SumOfUs has created a petition to encourage the Canadian government to follow through -- a good idea, as Prime Minister Trudeau has said Canada wants to use its presidency of the G7 to create a zero-plastics-waste charter. Critics point out that many other countries already have national bans on at least some plastics, while Canada does not, and that we'd make a more effective role model if we did.

- Kenya and Rwanda have banned plastic bags, and you could end up with jailtime if caught selling or smuggling them in.


What alternatives to plastics are you trying out? Please let us know. In a discussion after satsang several people were trying new things -- buying milk in glass bottles, buying more foods from the bulk section, and buying refillable products. How about you?

"We strive as much as possible to recycle and reuse waste. Let it be our aim to create a world with zero waste."  ~Amma
Plastic fact:

Scientists estimate the total amount of plastic ever created at 8.3 billion tonnes (and growing by the day). That amount equals the weight of 25 Empire State Buildings, or a billion elephants. All of it was created within the past 65 years, the majority in the last 15 years.--

If you are interested in checking out bulk foods, to cut down on plastic waste, the Bulk Barn is having an Earth Day special. We are always welcome to bring our own containers, and have them weighed at the front of the store before we shop, but until Wednesday this week, that will get us15% off our entire purchase. 

Check out the store's website, they have many products you might not expect, including non-GMO, vegan and organic alternatives, and even things like pet food and organic maca powder. They have a store downtown and one in Langford.

More suggestions for reducing plastic:
- buy bread in paper bags instead of plastic. You can wrap it in a tea towel and keep it fresh inside a tight-fitting tin or container.
- if you love drinking pop or seltzer water, consider buying a soda maker to make your own fizzy drinks.
- Eat fresh fruit, or make your own fresh juice, instead of buying it in plastic containers. 
- for those who buy wine, consider buying bottles with cork stoppers instead of plastic. (It turns out buying cork helps protect cork forests and animals too --  )
- if you drink soy, almond or rice milk, consider making your own at least some of the time. Recipes and instructions are easy to find online. Many people find these homemade milks easy to make and taste even better than store-bought.
Don't expect yourself to cut out plastic completely, overnight. It's easiest to just try some alternatives to plastic, and plan to use them at least some of the time.
Remember Rema Devi's advice, to use this challenge as a spiritual practice. We can bring more awareness to our choices, more of the time.

More good news: 

- An Amsterdam supermarket opened the world's first 'plastic-free aisle':

Diya, the PNW Plastic coordinator, would like to present Amma with a report on what Her children in the PNW are doing to reduce plastic use.  Please let her know what you are doing to reduce, reuse, refuse, and/or recycle plastics and how it's going over time, and she will include your story.  Email her at

“Negative thoughts and actions contaminate the atmosphere

and the consciousness of humanity. If we don't change our ways,

we are paving the way for our own destruction.

This is not a punishment, but an injury we are inflicting on ourselves.

We are not making use of the gifts God has given us to think, 

discriminate and act wisely.” -- Amma