This Friday marks the 46th annual Earth Day—but as lovers of animals and the environment know, every day can (and should) be Earth Day. That’s because every single day we make small decisions about which products to use, whether or not to recycle something, whether we should buy local or not, and so on. And day after day, these seemingly small decisions add up—big time. Sure, living green is a conscious effort, but as you’ll see below, it doesn’t have to be a difficult one.
If you share your life with dogs, check out the following 14 easy and inspiring ways both you and your pooch can go green, every single day. (If you’re more of a cat person, keep in mind that a lot of these tips will work for you, too!) From donating unused products to shelters and buying in bulk to choosing organic food for your favorite furry friend, we’ve got you covered with easy tips and tricks for living greener and smarter. (A big thank you to our friends at Ultimate Home Life for sharing this fun and inspiring infographic with us!)
What are you up to this weekend? I’m still catching up on things, after spending last week in the UK. But I’m also kind of in the mood for a truly inspiring documentary, something life-affirming that can teach me something new. Here are a few of my favorites, which also happen to touch on very important subjects:
1. Beyond the Myth: The Truth About Pit Bulls
All dog lovers should see this film, which highlights the problem of discrimination against pit bulls, which can actually be wonderful companions. It also examines the harm done by negative media coverage and breed-specific legislation.
It’s easy to get really down about the future of this planet when you read the news: polluted water, oceans and air. Genetically modified food. Animal testing. Lost biodiversity. Climate change. But then I see teens and kids already working passionately to make our planet a better place—and I see a ray of hope. Check out these amazing youth advocates, who have already dedicated a good portion of their young lives to educating others and enacting change:
1. As a child, Birke Baehr started reading food labels and researching the ingredients of everything his family was eating. “I discovered the dark side of the industrialized food system,” he said in his popular TEDx Talk at age 11 (he’s now 15), which covered the topics of factory farms, GMOs, pesticides and herbicides. He soon turned his passions for natural food into a website (www.birkeonthefarm.com), a children’s book, speaking appearances and a solid foundation for a future in organic farming. His tips for other kids (and adults): “Think local. Choose organic. Know your farmer. Know your food.”
I’m all for superfoods—you know, healthy ingredients high in nutrients that give your immune system and well-being that extra oomph. Kale, broccoli, quinoa: bring it on! But did you know, there are also a bunch of superfoods you can safely feed to your dog or cat? Next time I’m snacking, I won’t feel so guilty sharing a bite or two with my dog Mystic. Here are a few animal-friendly superfoods I’ve come across in my research:
1. Organic coconut oil: A spoonful a day can help allergies, improve their coat, support bone health, minimize dreaded “doggy breath” and more. Plus, you can also use it topically to sooth cuts and inflamed skin. For safe feeding, the recommend amount is 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds body weight. (Too much can cause loose stools.)
This fascinating article in The New Republic declared 2014 the year of mindfulness. Because meditation is such an important (and beneficial) part of my life, I love that it’s starting to take off in such a big way and that people in general seem more open to this idea than ever before. But the article left out a very important factor: animals. In my work with Reiki, I’ve realized they just “get” meditation and the idea of living in the moment more than we ever will. In fact, by following their lead, it’s easier than ever to find that mindful “ideal” we’re all striving for.
With that in mind, here are some easy ways we can all practice daily mindfulness with our animals (a.k.a. our best meditation teachers):
1. Savor the sun and smell the roses. Yes, it’s cliché. But next time you’re on your daily walk with your dog, instead of rushing through so you can get back to your next task, take a few moments to experience everything around both of you in nature. Smell the salty air, breathe and feel the sun on your skin. Resist the urge to do your daily walk on autopilot. You can even wander in a new direction; the two of you can just enjoy the moment and see where it takes you. If you’re more of a horse person, take the same approach on your next trail ride with your horse.
2. Give 100 percent full attention to your animal. This isn’t always easy. Next time you cuddle with your cat and talk sweetly to her, do so without any other distractions—no TV, laptop, phone, magazine or the like. When grooming your horse, focus on the moment and truly take it in: the sweeping of the brush, his nickers, the shine of his hair. Sit with your dog and give him your 100 percent attention. Really try to feel and embrace every aspect of the moment—sights, sounds and so on—instead of letting your mind fall back on other distractions, like your to-do list or what you’re cooking for dinner tonight.
3. Practice mindful eating—for both you and your animal. We all know the benefits of thinking about what you put into your body. Support your health by eating fresh, wholesome foods—and support your animal’s health, too, by doing the same and serving natural, nutritious foods. Thankfully, due to consumer demand, premium and organic dog and cat foods are easier to find than ever before. And when you want to spoil your favorite dog, whip up some easy (and deliciously healthy!) homemade treats.
4. Meditate and “be” Reiki with your animal. I’ve created a special series of six 20-minute meditations to help you tune into and connect energetically with your animal, with the natural world around you, and with that deep inner space of peace and strength within yourself—all important ingredients to mindful living. Click here to get started.
5. Take 10. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or the very last part of your night, take 10 minutes to breathe, be calm and just “be.” If they’re not already, your dog or cat will probably end up in your lap!
How do you practice mindfulness in your daily life?