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Humans Are Completely Dependant On Plants, By Saving Mother Nature, We Save Ourselves

July 12, 2019
As I've worked through learning the circular stories of provenance behind the products and services I consume daily, I've become more aware of just how much we use and abuse the living world - which wholly supports all our lives, each moment of every day.

Not a shred of our collective reality would exist without the benevolence of our biosphere, and it is our disconnection from this truth that sits at the base of just about every issue we face.

For our entire lives, we breathe oxygen produced in an act of reciprocity through the carbon exchange of plants in our biosphere. Every morsel of food we've ever eaten was created through symbiosis with the elements, allowing plants to not only feed themselves but also offer up nutrients to us as well (and other heterotrophs).
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The shelters we live in were built from the torsos of forests and ripped from the depths of quarries to protect us from the elements. Plant fibres frame our bodies too, whether our clothing is made up of natural materials, or Frankenstein fabrics derived from fossil fuels - which themselves were made from cycads (seed plants) that died millions of years ago - plants dress us too. Even when we find refuge or decoration in the skins, furs and feathers of fellow heterotrophs, their bodies were formed from plant persons also. 

Potable water is a product of plants as well, filtered through soil, which when healthy is made up of living and decomposing plant life. If the soil has been cared for by plants, rainfall is filtered through its system, delving deep through its various layers until it reaches impenetrable clay, where it follows the flow of gravity leading it to escape into a spring, which leads to many of the streams and rivers which come our way. If soil isn't healthy, because it is void of plants, then that soil turns to clay and the water cycle which brings us life never penetrates to be filtered, running off into our waterways to create brown, undrinkable water. 
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Every one of our physiological needs is met directly or indirectly from the living world.
It is crazy, when you think about it, that we don't whisper words of thanks throughout our day in awestruck gratitude. It's crazier still that our whole society developed with such a lack of humility, to take without return, nor regenerative reciprocity. 

The earth has offered us endless acts of Love, perhaps in our bid to save her, our duty is to offer endless acts of Love in return. If we can edit our personal actions to reflect this conscious circularity, perhaps we can edit our politicians, and with it, their policies.

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Displaced Carbon Has Caused Climate Breakdown & Forced Migration

July 04, 2019
Since the dawn of time, there has been the same number of carbon atoms on this planet. Never increasing or decreasing, just moving - usually by choice, but more recently by force - between its three storage systems (soil, life, atmosphere).

If you anthropomorphize carbon, thinking of it as the nomadic peoples our ancestors once were, you can imagine the holistic migration it had. Unfixed, borderless, and regenerative, it flowed naturally, and benevolently, bringing balance between all life above and below the ground.

Carbon prefers, given the choice, to store itself safely in the soil humus (the topsoil we grow our food in), aiding carbon-based life forms (like plants, animals and humans) in existing, before shapeshifting to the atmosphere to complete/continue its cycle.
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If you think of this in human terms, humus is home. The place we prefer to be and thrive best in. Ideally where we live in symbiosis with our communities and all living things. Once in a while, we might like to travel, like carbon does; rising into the atmosphere to collect tales, tastes and memories from other places. As long as we're not gone too long, we usually have our chosen humus to come home to.

The problem is, that due to the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, conventional farming practices, deforestation, mining, tilling, pesticides, chemicals, and so on, we have fiercely forced carbon from the humus it calls home. Leaving behind insufficient biosphere for it to find its way back into the soil.

In our frenzy of uncontrolled consumption, we have cultivated a relationship with the world and each other that is void of belonging, filling the hole dug with a false bounty of belongings. Driven by greed, not need, we've thickened the blanket of greenhouse gases; warming our oceans and dramatically impacting our climate.

Like many of the 70.8+ million people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes due to violent conflict (caused directly or indirectly by the practices listed above), or the estimated 25+ million “environmental refugees” whose homes have been made inhabitable due to the effects of climate breakdown (droughts, flood, environmental disaster, sea level rise etc ...), both carbon and humans have been coercively displaced from their humus/homes.
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To reverse global heating, to make this earth fruitful and inhabitable for everyone, carbon needs to go back into the soil. To do that, we have to stop pumping out of the ground and into the atmosphere through the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. We must revert to renewable energy, take up the various forms of agroecology / regenerative agriculture (a product of Traditional Ecological Knowledge), which can quickly and effectively draw carbon home to its humus, creating resilience from drought and protection against flooding while offering food security, clean water, shelter and safety simultaneously.
The wisdom to the ingredients of a healthy human society rests in the provenance of healthy soil. A place where diversity is welcome, relationships of reciprocity are intrinsic, and gracious respect of fellow earthly kin is inherent.

We have to burn down our idea that indulgent self-interest equates success, transforming the definition of 'quality of life' to one which ensures every single human on this planet has their basic psychological and safety needs met.

None of us should be climbing Maslow's hierarchy without pulling our communities up with us. If this ship sinks, we’re going down together, and we'll have no one to blame but ourselves.
It is said that historical studies suggest that it takes 3.5% of a population engaged in sustained nonviolent resistance to topple brutal dictatorships. 'Refugees' make up nearly 1% of the world's population, Indigenous peoples make up 5%. All that is needed to make this movement happen is the support of privileged societies like ours joining hands to amplify voices of wisdom and reason. Together we can drive the dark dictatorship our species reigns over this earth and replace it with a legacy of light led by respect and reciprocity.
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The Most Sustainable Jean Shorts Available

July 01, 2019
With a commitment to constant improvement, collaboration over competition, and regenerative thinking, Sustain By Kat has created what she calls 'the most sustainable jean shorts ever'  (apart from, of course, the ones you already own, or ones you can find second-hand).⁣⁣⁣

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The ones she creates are made with GOTS certified organic cotton denim, undyed organic cotton sewing thread, and organic cotton labels, every aspect of Sustain By Kat‘s creation is as sustainable as currently possible. ⁣⁣⁣In addition, each item is produced ethically and sustainably in Los Angeles.
⁣⁣⁣
For her entire collection, Kat uses plant dyes from Botanical Colors or Aura Herbal Wear which is organic and locally sourced. To create the deep denim blue of these shorts, she collaborated with Aura Herbal Wear using organic indigo leaves to replace the chemicals found in most productions of denim wear.
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For the label on these shorts, Kat embarked on her first collaboration with her local Fibershed, marking the first step in her transition from supremely sustainable to regionally regenerative by investing in fibre systems that protect and regenerate the soil.

The partnership was small but mighty, making labels for the shorts with upcycled offcuts from Farrier Leather's sustainable leather bag production, which are created with the byproduct of animals raised on local farms practising regenerative agriculture. This partnership ensures nothing is wasted from either production, in attempt of mirroringIndigenous honourable harvest.

You'll find SUSTAIN BY KAT's Organic Indigo Leaf Dyed Jean Shorts HERE
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The scent of soil stimulates the same chemical that bonds mother and child

June 25, 2019
In your hands, the spongy structure of healthy soil looks and feels like moist chocolate cake, offering more life in one teaspoon than there are people on the planet.

The segment of the soil which creates this telltale texture is called 'humus', and despite its contribution to the tactile-ness signalled by its existence, it's shapeless. Without any scientific knowledge of soil at all, you can spot humus' assassination when instead of chocolate cake beneath your feet, you find parched dirt in its place.
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In many ways, humus offers the same benefits to the soil that colostrum offers a newborn. Like the human body, humus absorbs elements emitted by animals and plants in varying stages of decay (compost), converting them to nutrients which lets soil feed, reproduce, suppress disease, fix nitrogen, and retain moisture; creating a womb in which plants can grow. 

Its motherly acts don't end there either, recent research has shown that our species subconsciously remembers where we stem from as "the smell of humus exerts a physiological effect on humans. Breathing in the scent of Mother Earth stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin, the same chemical that promotes bonding between mother and child".

'Humans' and 'Humus' share the same etymology of being 'from and for the earth', their roots intertwined with 'Humble', which is how one feels when these tales of reciprocity from the kingdom below, surface.
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HOW HUMUS HELPS REVERSE GLOBAL WARMING
The existence of humus in the ground is one of our main aides us in reversing climate breakdown, as it stores the overpopulation of carbon we've pumped into the atmosphere, converting it into topsoil (the part of soil we grow our food in). Humus also offers resilience against drought and flooding, storing 80-90% of its weight in moisture like a reservoir, so life above and below the ground can thrive and survive.

Like most mothers, humus is incredibly resilient, but current conventional agricultural practices weaken it. When weakened or killed, its benevolence is blocked from continuing, and without it, no life can survive on this planet.

Soil lacking in humus contributes to global heating instead of reversing it. When tilled, left bare of plant life to cool and shade it, it scorches in the sun as any of us would. When drenched with chemicals, it becomes sick and cannot function. Without compost, humus is left to starve and quickly dies off.

As it passes away the carbon it was sequestering, which offered a future of food to all life on earth, escapes and rises into our atmosphere. Then when it rains, without humus to hold it, the water runs off silting and flooding our waterways. Without stored moisture, the soil turns to dirt and is devastated by drought, marking it infertile. Without fertility, the earth cannot support life.

This is a humbling reality that science - in 'verifying' Indigenous Peoples Knowledge - is just beginning to come to know. Reminding us that though we might like to think we've got it all figured out, in truth, we hardly understand the ground we stand on.
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HOW CAN YOU PROTECT SOIL HEALTH? 
The good news is by listening to the wisdom of Indigenous Peoples, there are solutions already available, offering food security and reversal of climate breakdown. You can aide in the protection of our soil's health by spreading this information, adjusting your purchases, and lobbying and voting in support of regenerative agriculture. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Support Regenerative Agriculture: shop at your local farmer's market so you can ask the local farmers directly what type of farming they do. To be regenerative the farmer needs to check off as many questions as possible, Kiss The Ground has a great PDF you can save on your phone to use as a guide, just click HERE to get yours.

2. Support Regenerative Fashion: either buy nothing, buy second-hand, buy clothing made from upcycled natural fibres, or shop on Fibershed's Marketplace.

3. Compost! The breakdown of organic matter is what creates humus, an amazingly effective way to protect humus is to make humus from your own organic waste.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Kiss The Ground is holding a new soil advocacy and regenerative lifestyle courses, click HERE to sign up. They also have courses for farmers and businesses which can answer any questions I can't and inspire you on your own path.
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How Mob Grazing Grasslands Could Reverse Global Heating To Pre-Industrial Temperatures

June 19, 2019
"Desertification is a fancy word for when the land that is turning to desert and this
happens only when we create too much bare ground, there is no other cause"
- Allan Savoy

While I know the subject of livestock is a touchy issue, especially for those committed to a vegetarian or vegan diet, the science behind holistic managed planned grazing offers results too beneficial to ignore.

As more countries declare a "climate emergency" across the globe, our responsibility as environmentalists is to look at the most effective solutions available in reversing global heating and aiding in their implementation. 

By now, most of us understand that desertification is a problem, one caused by livestock overgrazing, tilled land, bare soil, and insecticides, pesticides and herbicides poisoning the ground.

What most of us don't know, is that by shifting how livestock grazes, while simultaneously putting a stop to land tillage, covering bare soil with plants, and halting the use of chemicals in our agriculture, we can reverse global heating and climate breakdown rapidly.
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HOW DOES GRASSLAND DESERTIFICATION OCCUR?
The way healthy grasslands developed, orginally, was through herds of grazing animals which were kept on the move by packs of hunting predators. Grazers would help grass defoliate (the same thing leaves do in fall) then dung, urinate, and stomp them, creating a natural compost which fueled healthy plant growth.

Currently, about two-thirds of the world is desertifying, causing a myriad of problems across the globe. Bare soil lacking in organic matter is susceptible to both flooding and drought because rainfall is unable to absorb into the ground and instead runs off silting our waterways. In addition, uncovered earth allows carbon to escape into the atmosphere as, without any cover crops, there are no plants to suck carbon in, nor living organisms to transform its surplus into humus (bonded by surplus carbon, humus contributes to soil's retention of moisture and nutrients).

In grasslands specifically, the natural lifecycle requires grass to decay biologically before a new growing season can occur, if the grass doesn't decay naturally (with the help of planned mob grazing) it starts to oxidize, smothering all life below and releasing carbon into the atmosphere as it goes. Traditionally, humans have dealt with this dead grass by burning it, but burnt grass gives way to bare soil, allowing carbon to escape and releasing, per hectare, as much pollution as 6,000 cars
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WHAT IS HOLISTIC MANAGED PLANNED GRAZING?
One of the key aspects of soil regeneration and reversal of desertification is something called holistic managed planned grazing (also known as managed grazing, cell grazing, mob grazing), which mimics the natural movement and behaviour of wild herbivores. This 're-discovery' is so beneficial, that if we mob grazed just half our world's grasslands, we could reverse global warming back to pre-industrial times. In fact, a third party sustainability science firm recently validated that White Oak Pastures, a farm in Georgia, is storing more carbon in its soil than its pasture-raised mob crazed cows emit during their lifetime, proving livestock managed responsibly can be carbon negative.

In addition to the climate breakdown reversal, planned grazing minimizes financial inputs, meaning it is an easy cost-effective way for farmers and ranchers to transform degenerative habits to regenerative without risk, making it an approchable and sustainable transformation which can be practiced by farmers across the world.

From an animal welfare perspective, mob grazing provides a solution to factory farming, as animals are no longer are fed in confinement off fossil-fuel intensive grains monocrops. Instead, they receive nutrients naturally available on diverse grasslands. Because of these nutrients and living a ‘nomadic’ life outdoors, the animals require no antibiotics either, increasing their health and overall wellbeing.

Since the animals control the weeds through their grazing, the land requires no chemicals either, detoxifying the plant's soil, surrounding waterways and air.

In addition to having plant life which draws carbon down through the grass's double-sided stomata (grass have little mouths on both sides to suck carbon in feeding life below ground), the strength of soil aggregates is greatly increased, preventing flooding and drought.

The healthy soil aggregates create increased nutritional value in the soil as well, offering food and nutrient security to all living things above and below ground.
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HOW TO SUPPORT GRASSLAND REGENERATION?
Nature is incredibly complex, to save her, we have to learn to listen to her needs and wishes, understanding it is us that has to compromise, not her. 

Try to eat regeneratively and seasonally, supporting your local economy. You can support the regenerative movement and grassland regeneration by purchasing regenerative meat or dairy from local farmers in your area. Type into your search engine: "Regenerative Agriculture (your state / province / country)". You can also find regenerative fruit, vegetables, pulses, and grains this way!

Questions to ask farmers at your local farmer's market are:
1. Do you practice no-till agriculture
2. Do you use cover crops?
3. Do you use synthetic fertilizer, fungicides, or herbicides?
4. Do you rotate crops?
5. Do you pay your workers fairly? 
6. Do you use holistic managed planned grazing?

WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Kiss The Ground is holding a new soil advocacy and regenerative lifestyle courses, click HERE to sign up.
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IMAGES: Unsplash

Switching To LED Lightbulbs Is The 33rd Most Effective Way Of Reversing Climate Breakdown

June 12, 2019
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I first learned about the 'Light Bulb Conspiracy' in Tara Button's book 'A Life Less Throwaway'.

The story goes that representatives from Osram, Philips and General Electric formed a group called the 'Phoebus Cartel' in order to commit the first known act of planned obsolescence. Previous to their scheming, lightbulbs lasted an average of 2,500 hours; however, since this crew loved money more than light, they hatched a plan to increase their sector's sales by collectively bringing the lifespan of their lightbulbs down to 1,000 hours. 

LEDs REVERSE CLIMATE BREAKDOWN
Light bulbs contribute significantly to global heating due to their high use of energy (which is powered by the burning of fossil fuels). According to Project Drawdown, by simply swapping our lightbulbs from regular to LED, we can avoid 7.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide, halting one contributor to climate breakdown.

LEDs use around 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs and half as much as compact fluorescents. Making this swap is the 33rd most effective way of reversing global heating making it one of many changes we can make at home or at work that has an incredible impact overall.
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LEDs PROVIDE A SOLUTION TO LIGHT POVERTY
LEDs work like solar panels but in reverse, converting electrons to photons instead of the other way around. Because of their lower energy needs, they can also be powered by individually captured solar energy. This is an amazing reality for the billions of people around the world who do not have access to power, offering a significantly safer and cheaper solution to the noxious kerosene lamps currently relied on. ⁣

You can aid the LED revolution by swapping your bulbs. For screw-in bulbs, check out Cree (3-year warranty) and for fancier looking ones with a 10-year warranty, check out Plumen. To help reduce light energy poverty, I’ve also selected some @kiva.org projects you can invest in. Each time your investment gets paid back, you can invest in another one, making it a gift that keeps on giving through the magic of impactful microloans. ⁣
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* some affiliate links mixed in // IMAGES: Unsplash

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