Archives for March 2013

Andrew Koch: Surrounded by beauty…and garbage?

Surrounded by beauty…and garbage?
by: Andrew Koch



Traveling internationally has always been a strong desire for me. From when I was a kid and wanting to sleep outside in the lawn verses my bed or wondering around the neighborhood always curious what’s over the next hill or around the next corner; found me further and further from home. Whitewater kayaking, surfing, climbing and stand up paddle boarding have encouraged my need to travel but they have also allowed me to immerse myself in nature more than ever before. Through this connection I have come to realize that humans, animals, plants and the natural world are all interconnected. NOT separate. I have found that humans who do not have this connection tend to treat the environment with the lack of respect because they believe they are separate from our natural world. I am not a psychologist, a scientist or a botanist. I am simply a traveler who has been observing the world around me.



I traveled to the other side of the world to South East Asia in search of the lushness of Bali and the towering island crags of Thailand. I pictured a way of life that was simpler and more in touch with the natural world. I found this to a degree but also discovered a modern world quickly suffocating an old culture. Potato chips, bottled water, processed sugar snacks or in other words “Modern” snack foods had replaced fruit and vegetable stands. The effects these modern foods have on the human body is something I will not cover in this article however I will talk about the excess waste these products create.



In the USA we “clean up” our trash for the most part. You don’t see huge piles of non-biodegradable garbage everywhere. The garbage finds its way to a land fill which gives the illusion of a clean environment. This only hides the problem. In third world countries the “modern” garbage piles high and it is evident on pristine beaches and remote mountain landscapes. They have no infrastructure to hide it so their wastefulness is in plan sight.



In the US we are constantly told to consume these modern products not thinking about the impact it will have on our environment. We consume then throw it away not thinking about where that trash will end up. It simply goes away “Out of sight out of mind” Now that its gone your free to buy more. Not being mindfully of your consumption is leading to pollution on a global scale. Yes let me repeat the word Global. Your garbage is everyone’s garbage because we all live on this planet together. By buying goods from environmentally irresponsible companies you are helping them grow which in turn will effect you and those you care about


I could go on and on but the point is to put to practice a new mindfulness with what products you choose to consume. You can start in small ways. What seems small can turn out to be a global movement if everyone took the same small steps. Here are a few helpful tips:


Practice the three RRR’s (Reduse, Reuce, Recycle)


Reduce: Start at the grocery store. Don’t buy foods that are prepackaged instead buy bulk food items and food without packaging. Buying Organic fruits and veggies will help support organic farms, reenergize your own body and keep harmful pesticides from entering our bodies, soil and water ways. Don’t buy bottled water and anything that can’t be recycled. Turn the lights off when not in use. Support your local farmers and local shops by buying their products. By supporting your local community you help Reduce imported products and build a strong awareness for those around you which in turn will keep you motivated to help.


Reuse: Think thrift stores. Be creative with old jars ,plastics, card board etc. Bring your own coffee mug to the coffee shop, say no to plastic bags and bring your own to the store, etc



Recycle: Recycling anything that can be recycled. If your town doesn’t have a plan spread the word and get folks on board who care about the well being of all living things


Media: documentary called “No impact man”
Book: “The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight” by Thom Hartmann
Politics: Vote for politicians who care for the environment  @


To lower the impact on plastic from bottled water some cities and small towns in Southeast Asia have set up refillable water bottle stations using reverse osmosis.


Kelly Slater 11 time world surfing champion donated one of his boards for auction and matched the auctioned price. 8000.00 US dollars was donated towards the Bali pollution problem and education.