Celeb Yogi Tara Stiles Wants You To Ditch Your Straw

Photo: mbg Creative

Today, most of us live by a "drive through and toss out" mentality. We want to have it now and pay later. We got lured in by the shiny idea of being too busy for our lives and started believing that disposable products would make everything better. This romanticism of convenience has contributed drastically to the dirty mess of a planet we are in today.

The generation before us knew better. My parents were straight-edged hippies who built their own passive solar home, grew their own food, and took us on weekend litter cleanup adventures. They looked for ways to save time, money, and energy, which gave our family more time, money, and energy to direct toward the experiences that fulfilled us.

They taught us to live in a way that was better for our family and the environment. Back then, this kind of crunchy, green lifestyle wasn't trendy. They didn’t Instagram or blog about it. They just did it because they knew it was a good idea on all fronts.

Living simply was a way to boost our well-being. So, too, was living in harmony with our community and our surroundings. Mindbodygreen's You.We.All. mantra reminded me of what I've always known but can be distracted from, that wellness is about nurturing the self as much as it is it is also about nurturing our neighbors and our precious planet. So how do we lose sight of that, and how can we get on track?

The birth of convenience culture.

The generation before me remembers where they were when JFK was shot. I remember where I was when I first learned water was available in plastic bottles. I thought it was a joke. Bottled water? You could collect water from one part of the country, ship it to another, throw it in a bottle, and people would actually buy it?

I believe in a better way. I know you do too.

I remember watching the beginnings of convenience culture foster detachment behavior. It desensitized a generation to what it feels like to think, conserve, cook, and converse. Bad decisions became easy, and they tempted us everywhere we looked.

Our personal and global health is doomed unless we choose a better way, every day.

Now we are at a heightened pressure point where we are hyper-connected yet utterly disconnected from ourselves. We argue on the internet with strangers while consuming mounds of trash. We toss it all out and then take to Instagram to photograph ourselves looking fabulous. I believe in a better way. I know you do too.

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One small tweak at a time.

I'm certainly guilty of playing into our throwaway culture, and I look for moments when I can become more sensitized. One such moment came this summer, when I was hosting a three-week program at Strala's home base in New York.

Hot summer days in SoHo meant staying hydrated was a must, and grabbing a drink on the go—iced coffee, iced lemonade, iced whatever—was easy. Plastic to-go cups were in everyone’s hand as they pounded down the street and into the studio. But one day, Sam Wells, an awesome Strala guide and environmental activist who was in town for the program, walked into the group and handed out reusable straws. She simply said, "Stop!" and called us all out on our mindless action.

She told us that Americans alone use 500 million plastic straws every day, and most of them are so small that they end up in the ocean, harming marine life. When Sam got fired up about this to our group, it made a lot of sense. We can do better, and switching from plastic straws to no straw or a reusable straw is a manageable fix. I thought "Yes, I can do that, and I will do that."

I suspect more space, clarity, and inspiration are coming my way.

Ditching straws has been easier than I imagined, and I'm shocked that I let such a mindless choice slide for so long. A welcome side effect of skipping over plastic straws is that I'm now spending more time enjoying drinks in cafes instead of taking everything to go and running to the next event. I'm noticing how I want less takeout, run-out, and toss-out culture in my life altogether. And it feels like paying extra attention to this one good thing is washing across all things. I suspect more space, clarity, and inspiration are coming my way.

Giving up straws has also inspired me to ditch plastic tops on coffee and reduce other single-use plastic as much as possible. Since I made this commitment, I've noticed plastic more and more. It's everywhere and will take some more planning to get out of my life completely. But I'm going to try.

So now, it’s your turn. Get involved. Be an influencer for positive change. This week, I challenge you to nix single-use plastic straws in favor of reusable ones and get your friends to do the same. Giving up straws or carrying your own reusable one is easy, and anyone can do it. I know it’s sometimes hard to believe that your daily actions have global effects. But they do. We always have a choice. We can each change everything around us by changing what's in us.

Ready to take on Tara's challenge? Be sure to share your progress by tagging #mindbodygram, and check in to mbg this week for more information about why single-use plastic straws are so bad and how you can give them up for keeps.

Tara Stiles

Strala Yoga Founder
Tara Stiles is the founder of Strala Yoga, a revolutionary approach to healing through movement. Thousands of guides are leading Strala classes around the globe in partner studios, gyms, and clubs. Strala has been illustrated in a case study by Harvard Business School, and its philosophy of ease and conservation of energy are incorporated by business leaders, entrepreneurs, and well-being professionals around the world. Tara teams up with W Hotels on Fit with Tara Stiles—a program bringing Strala Yoga classes and healthy recipes to W properties around the globe. She has collaborated with Reebok, working closely with the design team on their yoga lifestyle range as well as developed a line of knitwear and homeware with Wool and the Gang. Tara has authored several best-selling books including Yoga Cures, Make Your Own Rules Cookbook, and Strala Yoga, all translated and published in several languages. She has been profiled by the New York Times, Times of India, The Times (UK), and featured in most major national and international magazines.

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