Imagine practicing Yoga in the majestic Rocky Mountains in the fall amidst the glowing gold aspen trees, with abundant clean air filling your lungs and the sunshine warming your face. Large herds of elk have descended from higher elevations for their annual mating season. The yogic sense of connection with natural surroundings is effortless.
Now imagine thousands of disposable plastic water bottles littering the scene. These may have been trucked halfway around the world to this mountain retreat, in order to quench the thirst of you and 1,500 other attendees at Yoga Journal’s annual Colorado conference in the mountain town of Estes Park.
This was the actual scenario for thirteen years. But in September, 2009, a new story was written. The nonprofit Green Yoga Association teamed up with Yoga Journal to just say “No” to a mountain of disposable plastic water bottles.
Water is always necessary for our health and well-being, especially at Estes Park’s elevation of 8,010 feet above sea level. Proper hydration at this altitude is very much a medical necessity, which is why as many as 8,000 disposable plastic water bottles would be delivered to the conference every year.
The problem with disposable plastic water bottles is that they are produced from petroleum, get used once, and then stick around in the environment for centuries as they are broken down into thousands of tiny pieces which then become part of the food chain. This could be seen as a very physical manifestation of bad karma.
We are also finding out that water from plastic bottles can sometimes be worse for you than the water from your tap. The Environmental Working Group and the University of Iowa tested bottled water from several major brands and found an “array of chemical contaminants in every bottled water brand analyzed.”
Scientists in Germany have found that plastic water bottles may also leach hormone-disrupting chemicals into the water, leading them to report that, “if you drink water from plastic bottles, you have a high probability of drinking estrogenic compounds.”
The Green Yoga Association, which engages in conscious environmental action grounded in Yoga, stepped in to help Yoga Journal set up an alternative system. Water filtration systems were brought in to remove chlorine from the otherwise healthy tap water and stainless steel water bottles were made available by donation to participants needing a reusable solution.
A chorus of happy and well-hydrated yogis praised the new era that featured a fresh partnership among organizations, yogis and practice.
Green Yoga Association Water Bottle
Alan Zucker is on the leadership council of the Green Yoga Association. After years of picking up plastic water bottles in Estes Park, he was inspired to promote a green solution.
Find out more about the Green Yoga Association at: greenyoga.org. If you join the organization at any level, you can receive a stainless steel water bottle if desired.