Earthen
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Earthen

Imagining A Green World for All

Transitioning to the Green World We All Long to See

A old growth tree in Bali, Indonesia — Trees cycle nutrients, sequester carbon, subtract more CO2 than they add, support biodiversity and increase the consciousness of their forest community. Imagine if our homes and enterprises did likewise. -photo by the author

IMAGINE A WORLD where the very way we live is steadily enriching the ecosystems around us. It is a world where our household and communities, just by thriving, make the biosphere a greener, more abundant and more livable place for us and our fellow species. It is a world where every company and corporation, just by doing business, is subtracting carbon from the biosphere and enriching its diversity. It is a world in which all our enterprises, large and small, account for not just their financial expenses and revenues, but also their grey and green ecological impacts and their support of biodiversity. Here, concepts such as ‘minimizing footprints’, ‘net-zero’, ‘zero waste’ and ‘carbon-neutral’ are relics. No longer do we strive to minimize our grey harm, instead we strive to maximize our greening contributions, to repay our carbon debts and to open our spaces to a diversity of life. In this world, our culture and economy are like voices syncing in song with the planet’s cycles; a chorus of ecological harmony rising up with us towards the stars.

I believe that to the extent you and I can imagine this world, it is not nearly as distant as many despair. I also believe that this is a vision we all long for and aspire to. Like our love of a song well sung, of complimentary colors or of symmetrical shapes, the call to harmony unites us across continents and cultures. Whether it is our voice in a choir, our role in a community or our part in the the biosphere, we long to contribute. Indeed, I have come to see that our transition to authentic ecological contribution is part an epic planetary story whose direction is literally in our hands.

So, how do we get to this beautiful world we all long for?

I’ve got one word for you: “Plastic”.

It is said in permaculture that the problem is always the solution. Through my personal plastic journey, I have come to see that our every day plastic is in fact a grand opportunity for awakening.

That ubiquitous material we all love to hate, is in fact a portal.

By looking at it closely and stepping through, a great ethical advance awaits us on the other side. Up until now, our understanding of how to contribute to ecological harmony has been juvenile — our notions human-centered, vague and incomplete. Our definition of ‘greening’ has been limited to simply reducing harm. However, through insights gleaned from plastic’s and the Earth’s primordial story, we can gain unprecedented clarity and confidence into the fundamental principles of biosphere enrichment. With this foundation we can reorient our current households, enterprises and technologies and build deep green ones from the ground up.

But first, let’s address the hate.

Plastic washing up on the beaches of Bali, Indonesia has become an issue that has mobilized the community and government of the island.

Plastic has garnered a bad rap over the last decades and the ire of us all. It has been piling up, clogging ecological cycles, polluting and contaminating. The consequences of our last century of plastic play is the focus of great consternation and condemnation. While, it may not be the most dire of our ecological crises, as we look out upon the polluted beaches, ruined rivers and suffering turtles, it certainly causes us the most shame.i

However, an awakening has begun.

Around the world we’re realizing where our plastic, oh-so carefully segregated and recycled, is actually ending up. The latest investigative journalism and documentaries are making it clear: no matter what bin we put it in, plastic’s current inevitable destiny is the biosphere. Our observation of the ensuing pollution has evoked a collective despair. It has led to a harsh judgment of ourselves as a ‘destructive’ species and of plastic as innately ‘bad’.

However, as you you will see, these judgments are misplaced.

Although, we’re now seeing clearly where our plastic ends — this is only half the story. Until now, we haven’t truly grasped where plastic begins. Our century story of plastic as human-made and managed has been woefully short-sighted. To the extent we haven’t understood the full Earthen cycle of plastic we have been blind to some startling insights.

While our awakening has come from our understanding of plastic’s destiny, the wisdom to move forward shall come from understanding its origins. As you will see, plastic is innately and tremendously valuable — in ways that we have completely overlooked.

To understand plastic’s true value, we must transcend our self-judgments and condemnations. To do so we must go back and look at how humanity got plastic into its hands in the first place.

Let’s start from the very beginning.

NEXT: Plastics Primordial Planetary Story

This is the second installment a series laying a theory of Green — what I am calling An Earthen Ethics.

Russell Maier is based in Banjar Sumampan, Bali, Indonesia, where he and his partner track, account and disclose their ecological impacts. In 2020, their monthly household plastic consumption was 15% of the Indonesian per capita average while their household CO2 emissions were 46.5% of the Indonesian per capita average. Over the past five years the percentage of their home space open to biodiversity has increased from 12% to 49% and the number of species that they account for has increased by 65%. In 2020, they household removed 2200% more plastic out of the biosphere than they consumed and produced. A full accounting of their impact ecological impact can be found in their household biodiversity and regenerative report at www.russs.net/earthen

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Russell Maier

Russell Maier

Earthen.io → Green ethics, ecological metaphysics, regenerative philosophy. Earth builder & Forest Gardener.