We have all heard the term sustainability; we've all seen companies claim to be sustainable. But we are at a point in time where we need to go beyond sustainability and towards regenerating the resources that we have lost. Regeneration doesn't just mean changing agricultural practices; it means considering the needs of the planet and all its inhabitants. It means creating a culture of reciprocity and respect towards all things from minerals, animals, plants, economies, and all communities.
Many organizations and companies are leaping to plant trees, sequester carbon, and cash in on carbon credits. However, most of these tree-planting actions happen in a monoculture system, and they do not consider why the land was deforested in the first place. The needs of local people to generate revenue. Global commerce has exploited the planet's resources to create products and fuel industry internationally, but often at the expense of destroying the local landscapes while utilizing exploitive labor practices that leave communities in poverty with no natural resources to feed themselves. This is not regenerative.
While regenerative culture should include healing soil, restoring habitat, and putting back what we have taken, it also means moving towards cultural and ideological shifts. These shifts must consider the effects our actions take (especially in commerce), on land, water, soil, animals, and people. Regenerating the planet requires a holistic approach, making radical changes in farming, in the production of goods, in the way we treat water, ourselves, each other, and the way commerce flows.
We must strive to create an inclusive, equitable, and just future for everyone, including nature. This idea is not new; it is the practice of most indigenous cultures, who are responsible for the concepts behind many conceptualized phrases, such as "permaculture". So what is reciprocity? In large, reciprocity informs every aspect of a functioning ecosystem. In short, it means that when you take something, you also give back, which is a way of life that has not been widely practiced since the colonists of the world "civilized" so much of the planet. Capitalist culture has spread across the globe, and generations of corporations have been taking and taking to the point where species have become extinct, the soil has been contaminated, and water has become polluted. As individuals, we have become disconnected from nature and our roles as caretakers of the planet.
Companies put a lot of weight and responsibility on the individual consumer to make the changes needed, and while our choices are powerful, they can not compete with the excessive production and manufacturing of products. Their packaging fills landfills, bodies of water, bellies of birds and fish, around the globe and it is time to make a change, to demand accountability, and for environmental reparations to occur. plantLust Botanicals is a small company that aims to model what regeneration and reciprocity look like. We source ingredients from organizations like the rainforest regeneration project Camino Verde and FairSource Botanicals (which works to save frankincense from destructive harvesting). We also give back by donating to United Plant Savers and have plans to contribute proceeds of every Wild & Organic Yoni Steam blend to Lotus House in Miami to uplift women and children in transition. We want to use commerce as a model of a circular economy. Meaning that we are utilizing ingredients from a place and our purchase of these ingredients helps catalyze social and environmental changes that align with our values.
It is like taking your food scraps and composting them; you are giving back the nutrients from the food to the earth and helping to build rich soil. Then, in turn, the planet continues to grow food for you. And if you have the privilege of having access to land, you can go beyond a seasonal garden with your compost and try to create a mini agroforestry system in your backyard; this helps restore habitats, produces food, brings birds, and other wildlife into your yard.
Regeneration also requires us to have a deep look at ourselves. We are connected to this planet just as much as mycelium, birds, worms, trees, and their health is our health. When we begin to understand that everything that is done to the earth–resource extraction, pollution of waterways, pesticide spraying, loss of biodiversity–is in fact reflected in our own bodies, then we can begin to see the interconnectedness of all that we do and make the real changes. Realizing that our consumer choices, relationships, and work we contribute to affect all living beings and the delicate life support systems on this planet should be a powerful incentive to do and demand better.
There is no "other ", there is just us. We are in this together, as animals, plants, water, soil, air, trees, fungi, and people. When we collectively participate in the wholeness, one small healthy act at a time, we can share abundance, hold space for our personal creativity, expansion, inner growth and engage meaningfully in all that life has to give.
Most people around the globe are working for less than a living wage, and their work only serves to further the wealth of a few. It seems like an endless cycle: the poor get poorer, the rich accumulate all the resources, exploiting them for their personal benefit. That benefit is the freedom to live their lives in enjoyment and good health. At the same time, capitalizing on our basic needs. However, we can shift our mindset by releasing our fears, the feeling of scarcity, and becoming collectively nurturing by healing our own personal traumas, ending repeating cycles of abuse, exploitations and finding our inner wholeness. This process, in reality, takes time that many of us do not have. We work to survive, to pay bills, to purchase food; this is the endless cycle that seems impossible to get out of. But this inner work is the work that brings true happiness. It leads us to become better versions of ourselves, more present in our relationships, responsibilities, and communities. Doing this work leads us to ideas and inspiration that guide us away from oppressive and fear-based living. We can become a healthy functioning cell in the body of the cosmos. We need this inner work more than ever– it is the key to regenerating our planet. What is inside us manifests the world around us.
There is a growing trend towards using the word "regenerative," just as there was for the word "green," "eco-friendly," and "sustainable." So when you are choosing to shop for food or products that are contributing to regeneration, know that you should look for three key aspects: plants (farming and soil practices), money (what is your purchase supporting?), people (were people and their land being uplifted by this product?). Be wary of large companies touting the terms above. Often what we think is a small company is actually owned by a much larger company. These trojan horse-type products are even found represented among the shelves of our small, local cooperatives. Be aware and reflect on the interconnected relationships of within and without and the holistic nature of our existence. Support local makers, farmers, and native communities! Pay respect to rare and precious ingredients like cacao and frankincense. Make sure your products are sourced from companies that prioritize positively impacting the communities they touch. We do.
Founder of plantLust Botanicals