Words for the Wise: Eat your Greens. Reduce your Trash. Find Simple Pleasures in Life. Enjoy the Little Things. Embrace Sustainable Living!
From virtual book clubs to drinking wine on zoom, sustainable living has become important as our lifestyles have changed dramatically in the last year. It’s been challenging to connect over a screen rather than the in-person connections we’ve depended on for so long. And let’s face it as new ‘norms’ set in, we’ve all made lasting changes to the way we cook, the products we use, who we spend time with, and what’s important in our lives. Chris Kelly Glavin, Editor-in-Chief of The Mama Lama Wisdom Collective, interviewed Diana Hoscheit, “Yoga Therapist Extraordinaire,” to shed some light on her experience.
One of the topics touched on in this interview with Diana is how takeout dinners are (mostly) old news, and not only is she doing her cooking at home, she continues to cook as healthy as possible. She discusses how she remains loyal to her plant-based eating program and shares some tricks picked up along the way to live a sustainable lifestyle.
Diana Hoscheit wears many hats; community inspiration, yoga therapist, yoga and meditation instructor. She’s been on the leading edge of sustainable living long before those words were in vogue.
Diana clearly expresses how to build a bridge between the mental body and the physical body finding peace within every aspect of her life. She has been a steady guide through my entire learning experience and continues to mentor me with her wisdom and friendship.
Each time I talk to Diana, I feel much better. I’m hoping you will too.
A Virtual Life
Chris: First question: What did early quarantine look like for you?
Diana: Early quarantine was a bit of a retreat for me. I enjoy spending quiet time at home, and while I love being out and about, teaching students and clients in-person, I quickly adapted to life at home.
Of course, it’s been very different as we’re trying to connect virtually with so many people rather than the energetics of being in-person with each other. Luckily, I’ve converted the majority of my classes and my private clients to the virtual platform. One or two have decided that this just isn’t a platform that necessarily works for them. Although most of them have been very open to it, even my ninety-five-year-old client has come on board.
Chris: What challenges have you faced in this new environment?
Diana: We’ve pretty much continued without a hitch. While I spend most of my time in my home, I leave twice a week to care for my grandson. We pick up our own groceries versus using a service like Instant Cart, but many of our friends take that route. We follow all safety precautions to stay safe.
We’re not in contact with too many people and have learned to keep a tight group of friends and family together. We’ve been doing a lot of happy hours and celebrations through Zoom. That’s what quarantine time has been for me; it’s learning how to translate what I do in-person to an online format.
I also had to up my ante with my own yoga and meditation practice to help me stay level-headed and manage my own stress. Although I am moving on my mat when I’m teaching a yoga class, that’s not my practice; that’s just moving my body. Sometimes, that’s a little challenging because I have to find space and energy for my own practices, which look different from what they did before.
“I’m committed to living a sustainable lifestyle and wanted to be sure I could maintain and improve what I was doing.”
Chris: Did you carve out some time for yourself?
Diana: Yes. That’s one thing that I definitely made sure that I was doing because I’m not practicing with other teachers right now. So it was so great to connect with Rolf Gates, a mentor and teacher of mine from way back. I’ve been on retreats with him and feel a deep connection.
Just to hear his voice gave me a sense of ease. It’s less about what the physical practice was, but listening to him talk and his Dharma lessons gave me a sense of normalcy.
In fact, every Sunday now, I’m taking his online class at 4:00 in the afternoon, and the physical practice really doesn’t change much. What changes is his message; that’s one thing that I’m making sure that I do each week for myself. And the rest of my practice kind of looks a lot like getting outside, you know, taking nice long walks in nature.
Cooking While Quarantined
Chris: So can you tell me about your quarantine cooking?
Diana: I love to cook when I have the time to do it. I thrive on cooking, not just for Jo [Diana’s Partner] but for myself, my family, and my friends.
It’s been a little bit of a challenge because Jo’s not really good with leftovers. So aside from not always getting the ingredients that I might be looking for, I’ve had to find substitutions, or I’ve had to get creative and cook in small amounts.
I cook pretty much every night. Early on in the pandemic, I didn’t feel comfortable doing takeout. That meant there was a lot of cooking, but I really enjoy that. I subscribe to a menu plan that I get weekly.
It’s called Forks Over Knives Menu planner, and it is phenomenal. It’s economized my time, there is variety, and the recipes are great. It also organizes my shopping lists. I just go right to the store with my shopping list digitally on my phone – I can check the things off as I find them. It’s a tool that aids in my quest for sustainable living, nothing goes to waste!
Chris: Oh, I need this. Thank you for telling me about this.
Diana: It was instrumental in my shift to vegan eating because it is a plant-based diet with no highly processed or refined foods. They don’t use any oil, but I add a little bit of olive oil to it.
Eat Your Greens!
Diana has been an early adopter of plant-based eating, which goes hand-in-hand with taking care of the planet and living sustainably.
Chris: Next up, Tell me about why you eat the way you do?
Diana: I have always been interested in eating a plant-based diet more because of the practice of “Ahimsa” in yoga.
Ahimsa means non-harming in Sanskrit and is one of the yoga tenets I live by as much as possible in my life. So, the idea of factory farm animals does not sit well for me. I believe that we are all energy and that the animals’ experience is present in the animal, which we eat. For this reason, I became interested in removing animal products from my diet. Yet, I didn’t feel like I had the knowledge or the time to eat sustainably and realistically.
Initially, I moved towards a vegetarian diet, but I couldn’t make that leap to more vegan until I had that menu plan that I mentioned. I don’t hold on to it rigidly, which I think is very important. I don’t feel that this is an all-or-nothing thing; day-to-day, I do the best that I can to leave as small of an imprint on our planet to follow my sustainable living lifestyle.
Overall, a plant-based diet has been proven to be environmentally sound and a healthy decision for my family. I feel as if even if you are eating one plant-based meal a week, it’s better than none.
Chris: Yes, I agree. A person must decide the degree that makes sense for them. We all have different compositions, and we all need different things. It’s good to explore many different eating options.
Diana: The more plant-based choices that you can make, the better, the less footprint that you’re going to leave.
Chris: Well, let’s talk about your footprint then. As you move towards more natural products, is there a direct correlation to a reduced footprint?
Diana: Yes, well, last year, we went to Washington D.C. and saw Jane Goodall’s exhibit at the National Geographic Museum, which is phenomenal. That sort of reignited something in me because she is such an environmental advocate. I’ve done her master class online as well, and that just rekindled my fire as I began looking for other ways to reduce my carbon footprint.
Jane Goodall may have said it best,
“One individual cannot possibly make a difference, alone. It is individual efforts, collectively, that make a noticeable difference—all the difference in the world!”
During the pandemic, many parts of the world reduced emissions from vehicles, and you know we started seeing an impact on the environment. There were reports of dolphins returning to Venice’s canals; birds are coming back around because pollution and smog were reduced.
As we start to look at transitioning back into some semblance of the life we had before, are there ways that we can economize our driving? I have a grocery store that I can walk to, but I’ll jump in my car more often than not, and I’ll drive there. Maybe going forward, I’ll grab my bike instead of my car to go to the market. That is something I’m going to continue to do. I love that, actually.
Changing Our Habits
Chris: I’ve been in contact with my friends in Rishikesh, India, in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. The population of fish is coming back! They are reporting fish in the Ganges River as never before. It’s happening everywhere; even the flamingos are back in Mumbai; it’s fascinating. We can’t deny that humans are creating a negative impact on those species’ habitats.
Diana: At the end of the Jane Goodall Exhibit, there was a challenge to commit to look at one area of your life and see how you can improve. There were a couple of different opportunities. Already, I was taking reusable bags to the store and ate a plant-based diet, but I wanted to do more. Next up, I began looking at familiar objects around the house, like plastic containers.
As a result, I chose to reduce my plastic usage, and Shampoo and Conditioner bottles were my first target. My mission was to try different shampoos and conditioners that didn’t come in plastic bottles without compromising on my hair, which is very thick and can become unruly without the right product.
But guess what, I found a great shampoo product. My hair feels as great and looks as great as it did before. Plus, now, I feel better because I’m not throwing another plastic bottle into the recycling. The shampoo bars have many other benefits; they travel better, and they last. Finally, the packaging fit’s right in with my desire to live sustainably.
Chris: I actually ordered them! I’m going to test them out, and I’m looking forward to that. So already, you’re passing it along!
Diana: My next target was coffee.
We buy reusable ‘k cups’ instead of all of the plastic and typical disposable kind. We fill it with our own ground coffee and use it over and over and over and over again. I’m also looking at my laundry detergent use and those big old plastic containers. I’ll update you on that once I find a good idea.
For Christmas, we moved towards making our own beeswax wrap. We gave it to all of our friends and family. It’s 100 percent cotton and effortless to make. We researched cosmetic grade beeswax directions, and although they do use pine resin, it is a healthier option.
So we chose to do it without the pine resin, which worked out just fine. So we’re not using plastic wrap anymore.
Sustainable Living comes in many forms.
Chris: Everything you’re doing builds on itself; from a plant-based diet to a reduced footprint, transformation is happening. And that’s something I’ve always learned from you, no matter where we are in life, we can move in a direction that impacts not only our lives but others. Can you speak to that just for a moment?
Diana: Well, I think that again the essential thing is it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Often, what happens we set a goal, and when we can’t do it 100 percent, then we don’t do it at all, and these little things add up.
Last January, one of the things that I wanted to do was to reduce the sweet-n-low in my coffee. Everybody was a little shocked at that, but I decided to reduce my coffee intake and my artificial sweetener intake. I actually calculated it because I was only drinking one coffee a day instead of two or three.
I calculated how many little packets of sweet low I had cut out at the end of the year because it doesn’t seem like a lot when it’s just one or two packs a day. Yes, but it adds up. It was like some crazy amount of cups of sweet and low at the end of the year. So the little bits that we give the effort to really do add up, and they matter.
Even reducing the thermostat on your heat, just a couple of degrees can make a difference. So it’s about picking and choosing where you can have an impact and what is sustainable for you and reasonable and not getting discouraged if you can’t do it in every aspect of your life.
Find Your Joy
Chris: That’s excellent advice. OK. So final question: What is bringing you the most joy in your life right now?
Diana: Easy answer, my grandson. When I’m with him, which is two days a week, I’m taking care of him.
He’s into everything. Not only does he bring me to 100 % presence, but he also reminds me of the wonder of figuring out this world of ours. He goes from crawling to standing to walking and now running.
I’m watching him figure out physics. He’ll take a toy and throw it on the ground and listen to the sound when it hits the hardwood versus listening to the sound when it hits the carpet. These are critical years in his development and a lesson on staying present.
Embracing our “new” norm and sustainable living choices
Now that you’ve heard how Diana moved her life towards sustainability, it’s your turn! Consider taking one of these ideas and formulate a “new” goal for yourself. Write it down, and make a plan. If it’s food-related – tac a note to your refrigerator, revisit your coffee intake, or simply start small and try a new shampoo without all the packaging.
It’s important to note the benefits of your actions. Figure out all the good things that will happen if you make a few changes. What will be the OUTCOME for you and the planet? Tell your friends about your plan even if it’s so small. Everything adds up.
Remember, the Mama Lama Wisdom Collective is a community that shares stories. Consider sharing your story. We want to hear what you are doing to save the planet or make your life a little less crazy. Your ideas are what make the Wisdom Collective work.