I want to digress from my series on coffee grounds for a moment, to write about a more general idea that has been on my mind lately – abundance. It’s not completely off topic though, as I started thinking about this a lot during my research and experimenting with grounds for the coffee posts. The same thing has struck me with every benign natural material I look into and begin using. The range of uses and benefits, and the absence of unavoidable harm, in each one astounds me every time.
The contrast with the single-purpose, highly specific nature of most commercial products is striking. Instead of being limited to one specific use, each natural ingredient seems almost boundless in its potential to help us. Instead of the frightening range of harmful side-effects and potential dangers, both to our bodies and the environment, of most manufactured products, those plucked from nature’s closet tend to come with an array of added advantages.
It’s one of those mind-shifts so useful in making change easier, and helps shatter the illusion of need that so often enslaves us. Once we see the riches bursting from the simple, natural materials around us, the products sold to us to do whatever particular task, suddenly appear completely mean and narrow in their promises, not to mention duplicitous in what they fail to mention. Seen next to the true value in just about any natural material, the enticing packaging and near-magical abilities of manufactured products can no longer hide their fundamental lack of real goodness, nor can they possibly outweigh the lavish wealth of what is freely available in nature.
Our culture has taken us so far from seeing the bounty in nature, and at the same time we’re often blind to the hazards of the things we buy. It’s an upside down way of thinking, and recognising this makes the alternative easier to embrace. I have been struck particularly by how often materials that are very powerful and versatile, are ordinarily seen as waste. (Two examples I’ve written on recently are used coffee grounds and eggshells; citrus peels are another that spring to mind). That old adage, “waste not, want not” has more meaning than I ever realised. We need to reclaim it, because despite its twin negatives, it has an incredibly positive and important message. So often our culture and our economy encourages us to do the opposite: to waste what we have and want what we don’t. Sadly, this inevitably leads only to more want and more waste.
The positive aspects of a spotless approach make this mind-shift naturally rewarding. It’s really not about sacrifice and making do with second-rate alternatives in order to “save the planet”. Rather, it is part of freeing our minds from habits that do not serve us, others, or our environment well, so that we can take advantage of the abundance we’re missing out on.
Gaining freedom can seem like a difficult task from the inside of a prison we have never left, but once we begin to walk about outside, we can’t help keep seeing more and more rewards. Come and look for yourself.