My Attempts at Decolonial Living

I was going around in circles on how to refer to the project I have been on this year. I said my New Years resolution was to get closer and to connect more to the earth. I imagined that working out in different ways, and yet what do I call that? I kept saying I'm becoming a hippie, I said that because people immediately understood what that meant, kind of. But as an Ethnic Studies scholar I take seriously the historical and racial implications of words, and thus I'm not sure hippie was quite the right word for me. So I thought decolonial living made more sense.

You see becoming a hippie implies hippies discovered and have the last word on green and sustainable living. When in fact, many native cultures around the world lived and continue to live that kind of life. In my own ancestral history, prior to Spanish colonization, most Meso-american cultures lived in a deep reciprocal relationship with the earth. It wasn't until colonization and later industrialization did that change. So to say I'm becoming a hippie doesn't really apply because what I'm really doing is trying to tap into my ancestral ways of living. I am trying to de-colonize the way I live my life to be more inline with the way my ancestors lived.

That being said, it's most definitely a process, not something I can accomplish overnight. After all, I live in a time so deeply colonized by industrialization, mass production, consumerism and chemical overload, that prioritizes convenience And this world is VERY alluring, easy to disconnect from the realities of colonization. For example, it's really easy not to think about the hormones in our food and the consequences on our bodies and the environment, because the food tastes so damn good. But the more I read, the more I study, the more I learn, the less I can stand by idly. I need to engage in the process of change, I need to move toward decolonization, even if it's just baby steps, even if it's just for myself and my family.

It is with this in mind that I being my attempts at decolonial living. So what does that mean? Here are my goals:

- begin to compost- We waste so much STUFF, this can be a simple and direct way to literally give back to the earth.

- make as much food from scratch as possible- So much of what we buy, even things that are supposed to be healthy still have so many artificial chemicals in them. Why not make things like almond milk that at first might seem inconvenient but will overall be better for us, and actually kind of fun.

- eat clean as much as possible- for me it's so hard to do this all the time because there is so much emotional attachment to foods, but if I can switch the percentage of clean food to processed food, so that most of my meals are clean, that is an accomplishment. Not looking for perfection just movement in a better direction.

- cut back on the waste I create- This goes along with the compost thing, I kept noticing how much trash we create and it's astonishing. I feel like I am directly hurting mother earth every time another bag of trash goes out. So compost food waste, and try to find other ways not to create waste, suggestions welcome.

- cut back on the toxins and chemicals my family and I are exposed to- This is a big one and kind of goes along with the clean eating, more clean + less processed = less toxins. I also got rid of my microwave which I will discuss in a future blog post. And I switched over to cloth pads, which I will also discuss in a future blog post.

This was all sparked by the continuous articles I came across of the ways our mother earth is being destroyed. Chemicals in food, on plants, in feminine products, chemicals everywhere!!!! I also keep imagining trash dump sites and what they look like, how much waste can we actually produce, where does it go, what happens to it? Most of us get to live out of site and out of mind with our waste. No wonder there is climate change, mother earth is pissed at us. Sometimes when I think about all this I get overwhelmed, feel saddened and depressed. And on top of other sadness I've been feeling lately, it takes a toll.

So I decided to take charge, and make steps toward decolonization. This doesn't mean I'm going to be perfect at it, this doesn't mean I'm going cold turkey on my processed food, (too much emotional attachment I need to work through). But it means I'm going to try to be more conscious about what I put in my body, what I put in the trash, and how I treat mother earth. It also means I hope to create habits that can be passed on to my children so that they can establish a better relationship with the earth, but of course that won't be perfect either. I distance myself from perfection, because so often perfectionism is my weakness. I tend to have an all or nothing mentality and almost always end up on the nothing side.

Today I vow to focus on the PROCESS of moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, attempting decolonial living. And I guess we'll see what happens....

Renee Lemus